An Online Newsletter of
“The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Welcome to the July issue of The eBullet! Things have been hoppin’ around Mayberry in recent months with a good variety of activities by TAGS stars as well as by chapters, fans at large and festivals. And there’s much more coming up as we blaze on through the summer and into the fall.
Like Andy eating his third spaghetti dinner in one night, let’s just dig right in. Here are some upcoming events followed by reports of recent happenings and other news from around Mayberry:
The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest’s monumental collection of Andy Griffith artifacts, is open! Even with North Carolina’s recent easing of pandemic restrictions, for their own safety and the safety of those around them, folks who haven’t been fully vaccinated are encouraged to still wear masks when indoors and near others.
For complete updates on operating hours, safety procedures or other info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 16-18: 9th Annual Mayberry Meet-Up sponsored by TAGSRWC’s “Two Chairs, No Waiting” podcast gathers in Mount Airy, N.C. For all the details, visit this link: 9th Annual Mayberry Meet-Up in Mount Airy.
* July 17: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents the second installment of his summer lecture series about TAGS with a discussion of the “A Date for Gomer” episode, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with Andy Griffith Museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and under). Visit www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 14: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents his final summer lecture about TAGS with a discussion of the “Goober and the Art of Love” episode, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with Andy Griffith Museum admission ($8 for adults, $6 for ages 12 and under). Visit www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 20-26: 32nd Annual Mayberry Days® in Mount Airy, N.C. Special Guests confirmed so far include Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Rodney Dillard (guitar-playing Darling boy), Dennis Rush (Howie), Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey), Joy Ellison (Effie Muggins, Mary Wiggins and others), Ronnie Schell (two episodes of TAGS and also Duke Slater on “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”), Karen Knotts (daughter of Don), and Bettina Linke (wife of Richard O. Linke, associate producer of TAGS and also longtime personal manager of Andy Griffith and many others with Mayberry connections).
Tickets are already available HERE for some concerts and presentations, including Collin Raye (actually on Sept. 18, the Sat. before Mayberry Days® week), two shows (one as part of the banquet for the Mayberry Days® Golf Tournament) by T. Graham Brown, The Doug Dillard Tribute Show by The Dillards featuring Rodney Dillard, Ronnie Schell Presents: “Andy, Don & Jim–My Memories of Three Mayberry Legends,” Karen Knotts Presents: “Tied Up in Knotts–A Book Talk” and Professor Brower’s Lecture with Neal Brower.
Tickets are also available for Tim White and Troublesome Hollow’s “Tribute to Mayberry,” Allen Leath’s “Mayberry Melodies,” Michael Hoover’s “Memories of Elvis” and Colonel Tim’s Talent Time.
Other concert highlights during the week include The Embers featuring Craig Woolard, Legacy Motown Revue, The Band of Oz and James Gregory (“The Funniest Man in America”).
Much more TBA, but for now you can get tickets for these confirmed presentations. Also, don’t forget that it’s always a good idea to make hotel reservations sooner rather than later. And be sure to check our Event Calendar online for updates between issues of The eBullet.
* Oct. 1: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Oct. 30: 33rd Annual Uncle Jesse Big Bass Classic (founded by Denver Pyle) at Pat Mayse Lake in Paris, Tex. The event helps raise funds for Denver Pyle’s Children’s Charities, which remains very active in the Paris community. For info, visit the event’s page on Facebook.
* Oct. 31-Nov. 6: Clint Howard is the special guest for Mayberry Cruise 15, which was postponed with a few tweaks from its original dates in 2020. This cruise aboard Carnival’s Freedom will depart from Miami and travel to the Eastern Caribbean with ports of call in Princess Cays in the Bahamas, Grand Turk, and Amber Cove, the new Carnival-owned village in the Dominican Republic. Rates (including all taxes) start at $625 per person.
* Nov. 26: Roland White and his band perform at 9 p.m. at the Station Inn in Nashville, Tenn.
* Dec. 18: Roland White and his band are back at the Station Inn perform in Nashville, Tenn. The music starts at 9 p.m.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard has completed principal filming of Thirteen Lives in Queensland, Australia. In his spare time, Ron is also directing a documentary about the World Central Kitchen.
In addition to his directing duties, Ron has, by Ernest T.’s last count, a gazillion projects in the works as a producer or executive producer for his various divisions of Imagine Entertainment. One that just came out in late June is the documentary about the origin of the “Peanuts” comic strip (and more) for the Apple+ streaming service.
And all of Mayberry continues to eagerly anticipate Ron and brother Clint Howard‘s memoir, The Boys, which will be published by William Morrow on October 12. Ron and Clint are already busy signing 10,000 special copies. There will also be an audio version of the book. There hasn’t been an announcement yet about who will be the reader(s)of the audio book. We’ll have more about all the book details closer to the publication date.
Clint Howard was the special guest for the NEPA Horror Film Festival’s Spooky Summer Event at the Circle Drive-In in Dickson City, Penn. He greeted fans and signed autographs. That was followed by screenings of two of Clint’s most iconic films, The Ice Cream Man and Rock ‘n’ Roll High School.
Speaking of books, Tied Up in Knotts–Dad and Me, a memoir by Karen Knotts (daughter of Don), is being released on September 21, the Tuesday of Mayberry Days®. Karen’s show at Mayberry Days® will also be built around the book (just as the book itself, in a way, follows in the footsteps of her longtime Tied Up in Knotts stage show).
Margaret Kerry has been active on the book trail as well, including a stop in Leland, N.C., on June 24. Margaret’s Tinker Bell Talks–Tales of a Pixie-Dusted Life was published in 2016. (She’ll be back at Mayberry Days® this fall, with books available.)
On June 25, Betty Lynn greeted fans and signed autographs at the Andy Griffith Museum for the first time in almost 18 months. The session came together with just a day’s notice and was limited to 1oo lucky fans.
Part of the impetus for the semi-impromptu meet-and-greet event was that Ted Koppel and a film crew from CBS’s Sunday Morning show were in Mount Airy that week working on a story about the aftermath of the pandemic, while also sort of taking the pulse of the Mayberry world about various issues. The story is expected to run later this summer. Stay tuned…literally!
The Sunday Morning crew was able to get some good footage of Betty with Koppel and fans. The occasion provided a test run for Betty possibly resuming, at least on a limited basis, regular sessions at the Museum in the near future.
Maggie Peterson Mancuso reports that she is getting stronger and feeling better as she continues to recover from surgeries several months ago. She has settled into comfortable new quarters in Las Vegas.
While long-distance travel is still not on the immediate horizon for Maggie, she has been able to go see husband Gus perform at The Bootlegger once a week. It’ll be a happy day when she is able to once again join him on stage to perform a few tunes together!
That’s a wrap for News of Cast & Crew for this issue.
Mayberry In Memoriam
We’re very sad to report the passing of two actors who made significant contributions to Mayberry: Gavin MacLeod and Arlene Golonka.
Our memorial tribute to Gavin MacLeod is below.
In honor of Arlene Golonka and her two episodes of TAGS and 49 episodes of “Mayberry R.F.D.”, we’ve created a Special Edition of The eBullet: Remembering Arlene Golonka.
So, click the link above for the special tribute to Arlene, and continue to read below for our salute to Gavin MacLeod.
Remembering Gavin MacLeod
Gavin MacLeod, who played two memorable roles in TAGS, died at his home in Palm Desert, Calif., on May 29, at age 90.
Gavin played the bank robber (alias Gilbert Jamel) posing as a film director in “TV or Not TV” in the fifth season. A few episodes later, early in the sixth season, he then played actor Bryan Bender in “The Taylors in Hollywood.”
Because Bryan Bender was playing Andy Taylor in the Sheriff Without a Gun movie, Gavin has the distinction of being the only actor besides Andy Griffith to play Andy Taylor on TAGS.
Just prior to his first appearance on TAGS, Gavin played conman Fred Fay in “Dance, Marine, Dance,” a first-season episode of “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.”
Gavin MacLeod was born Allan George See, the first child of parents Margaret (who had worked for Reader’s Digest and at a bank) and George (an electrician and gas station owner) in Mount Kisco, N.Y., on February 28, 1931. The birth of brother Ron three years later would complete the young family. Sadly, George See, who struggled with alcoholism, died of cancer in 1945, at age 39, when Gavin was only 14.
Gavin was raised in nearby Pleasantville, about an hour’s drive north of New York City. Gavin attended Pleasantville High School, where he played football and performed in plays. He was graduated in 1947 and received a scholarship to Ithaca College in upstate New York. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts in 1952.
Gavin had started acting when he was four years old. He was smitten by the audience’s positive reaction to his performance in a play. While at Ithaca, he studied drama with Beatrice MacLeod, whose last name he later borrowed for part of his stage name. (His first name was taken from someone he had seen on television.) He later said that he felt that the name Allan didn’t sound strong enough and that See was too confusing for a last name.
Following his graduation from college, Gavin joined the Air Force, for which he helped put on plays and other entertainment. After the Air Force, he worked odd jobs, including as a janitor and as both an elevator operator (for $36 a week) and an usher at Radio City Music Hall, where he met first wife Joan “Rootie” Rootvik, a Rockette. They married in 1955 and had four children (Keith, Julie, David and Meghan).
Gavin’s talent and perhaps his elevator and usher connections paid off when, in 1956, he made his first appearance on Broadway in A Hatful of Rain at the Lyceum Theatre. Both he and Steve McQueen were replacements for original cast members.
Encouraged by his success on Broadway, Gavin decided to join the waves of actors who had been heading to Hollywood. Though he returned to Broadway for a short stint in The Captains and the Kings in 1962 (the show had toured the country but, despite a top-notch cast, closed after its first week on Broadway), Gavin generally stayed focused on his film career and doing California-based theater.
As a stout man in his twenties, Gavin, who also had become largely bald while still in college and therefore looked years older than his actual age, was almost always cast as a heavy. To try to get additional and more diverse parts, Gavin started wearing toupées, the first of which he bought secondhand, because he couldn’t afford a brand new one.
The hairpiece seemed to help. Gavin worked in a few films and many top television shows in the late 1950s and into the early 1960s. His first credited movie role was as a bully detective in the prison film I Want to Live! in 1958. (Susan Hayward won an Oscar for her starring role.)
Among the TV shows were “The Thin Man,” “Peter Gunn,” “Mr. Lucky,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Death Valley Days,” “Perry Mason,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show” (his first time working with Mary Tyler Moore) and several episodes of “The Untouchables.” His biggest movie of that era was 1959’s Operation Petticoat, starring Cary Grant and Tony Curtis. Gavin played Ernest Hunkle.
That role prepared Gavin well for his steadiest role to date, when he played Joseph “Happy” Haines in 73 episodes of the hit series “McHale’s Navy.” But all was not happy in Gavin’s life. Though he was staying busy, the parts, including the one in “McHale’s Navy,” were generally small and unsatisfying.
Because he now had two kids and a mortgage on his new Granada Hills home, he reluctantly accepted the smaller roles and their paydays. Still, his career was not progressing as he had hoped. He was drinking too much and he became so despondent at one point that he even began having suicidal thoughts.
Recognizing that Gavin was not on an even keel, his family and friends, including actor Robert Blake, urged him to seek professional treatment. He followed their advice and asked to be released from his contract with” McHale’s Navy” in order to begin to taking better care of his health.
After his time in treatment in 1964, Gavin was able to resume his career with renewed vigor. He worked regularly in theater productions in L.A. and landed guest roles in numerous TV shows, including TAGS and “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” Other credits during that time included “Ben Casey,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Combat!”, three episodes of “The Big Valley,” four episodes of “Hogan’s Heroes,” “Hawaii 5-0,” “Ironside” and “The Flying Nun.”
Once again finding his seafaring legs, Gavin was reunited with Steve McQueen, his old pal from their Broadway days, in The Sand Pebbles, a hit movie of 1966. He was also in Deathwatch with Leonard Nimoy in 1965.
By this time, Gavin had also joined up with the Words and Music theater company in the San Fernando Valley. Productions included A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and High Button Shoes.
Gavin’s next big break came with his being cast as TV news writer Murray Slaughter in “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” in 1970. He had originally gone in to audition for the part of Lou Grant, but he didn’t feel comfortable being Mary Richards’ boss. He persuaded the producers to let him instead audition for her friend and coworker Murray. (He had just finished playing Jigger in a Words and Music production of Carousel, so he already had the sideburns for the part!) It would become Gavin’s signature role. That is, at least until “The Love Boat” launched.
During the award-winning show’s seven seasons, Gavin and Mary Tyler Moore were the only cast members to appear in all 168 episodes. While Mary Tyler Moore, Ed Asner, Ted Knight, Valerie Harper and Cloris Leachman each won Emmys for their roles, Gavin, as would be fitting for Murray, was overlooked by Emmy voters. However, he was twice nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actor.
When the WJM-TV newsroom turned off the lights for the last time in 1977, Gavin was not a castaway for long. He signed on as Capt. Merrill Stubing for what would be the most successful cruise of his career aboard “The Love Boat.”
The highly rated, if not critically acclaimed, show, whose crew included many old hands on deck from TAGS (writers Art Baer, Ben Joelson, Sid Morse and Harvey Bullock and directors Bob Sweeney, Bruce Bilson and Earl Bellamy, just for starters) sailed for 10 seasons and 250 episodes, plus a cross-over episode with “Charlie’s Angels,” two reunion movies and a sequel series. (Gavin, Bernie Kopell and Ted Lange were the only actors to appear in all sailings of “The Love Boat.”) “The Love Boat” and Gavin’s role as Captain Stubing remain iconic to this day.
Back on shore, Gavin’s personal life had not navigated storms as well. He and wife Rootie had divorced in 1972, early in the run of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” His first marriage to second wife, singer-dancer-actress Patti Kendig Steele, lasted from 1974 until 1982, when his heavy drinking caused her to divorce him.
After that marital reckoning, Gavin had a true “come to Jesus” awakening. He credited his newfound Christian faith for saving his life and bringing Patti and him back together. They remarried in 1985 and remained together until his passing. They wrote about Gavin’s troubles and their faith in their 1987 book Back on Course: The Remarkable Story of a Divorce That Ended in Remarriage. They also hosted faith-based “Back on Course” marriage-counseling shows on both Christian cable TV and Christian radio.
During the last decades of his life, Gavin had only sporadic film roles that weren’t related to “The Love Boat”–most notably “Murder, She Wrote,” “Touched by an Angel” and a couple of episodes of “The King of Queens.” Other selected roles tended to be for faith-based projects. He also enjoyed a long and lucrative tenure as spokesperson for Princess Cruises.
Gavin continued to perform in selected productions, including Gigi at the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, N.J., in 1996; Lend Me a Tenor at the New Theatre & Restaurant in Overland Park, Kan., in 1998; and Happy Hour at the Coachella Valley Repertory Playhouse in Cathedral City, Calif., in 2015. He also performed in productions of No, No, Nanette and Gypsy (both opposite Kay Ballard). In 2013, his memoir This Is Your Captain Speaking: My Fantastic Voyage Through Hollywood, Faith and Life was published by HarperCollins.
Through the years, Gavin endured several health problems, including back surgery, heart attacks, quintuple heart bypass surgery (six is the maximum bypasses before you have to start bypassing the previous bypasses!) and prostate cancer. In later life, he and Patti, content in their faith, enjoyed spending time at their home in Palm Desert, Calif., far from the ocean and Hollywood.
In addition to his wife, Gavin MacLeod is survived by both sons and both daughters from has first marriage, three stepchildren, 10 grandchildren, one great-grandchild and his brother. In accordance with his wishes, his ashes were spread at sea..
Gilbert Jamel: “Cut!”
“That’s a wrap,” Bryan Bender!
“Great story, Murray!”
Bon voyage, Capt. Stubing!
**** Chapter Update ****
No new chapters have started since the May eBullet, so we’re holding at a total of 1,471 chapters.
Starting a chapter of TAGSRWC is really easy to do. Just pick a name that hasn’t already been selected by another group. You can check the searchable list of chapter names already taken at www.tagsrwc.com. Then submit your chapter’s name with your location and a list of your founding members by e-mail (to Goober@imayberry.com) or by U.S. Mail to TAGSRWC’s HQ (118 16th Avenue South, Suite 4, PMB 146, Nashville, TN 37203-3100). That’s all it takes!
Whether or not you start or join a local chapter, you can always join our online “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” chapter or any of several exclusively online chapters on Facebook and, more recently, MeWe (see Mayberry on the Web below).
**** Merchandise Update ****
You can always find a wide variety of Mayberry-related items at your fingertips online at TAGSRWC’s Weaver’s Department Store.
Here are some recent and popular items at Weaver’s:
Just a quick snapshot here to remind you that Weaver’s proudly carries the full line of officially licensed Mayberry’s Finest ™ bacon, jams and coffee.
Oh, and don’t forget that there are Mayberry’s Finest ™ Pickles, too! (“Learn to love ’em!”) They really are “just as flavorsome as can be”!
**** Chapter News ****
Chapters have been getting together on their own and in bunches this summer. Bunches? “Bun-ches, bun-ches! Lazy summer that it is for our staff (Staff? What staff?), we’ll rely on the pictures below to tell the storeies of some recent highlights.
But first one more reminder: The 9th Annual Mayberry Meet-Up is happening in Mount Airy the weekend of July 16-18. It’s likely to be the second largest gathering of chapters, at-large TAGSRWC members and fans in general this year–second only to Mayberry Days®. But the Meet-Up is also not too big. The gathering is designed to be a laid-back weekend that provides a chance to visit and just enjoy Mount Airy and vicinity at a relaxed pace.
Few formal events are scheduled–mainly just Neal Brower’s lecture at the Andy Griffith Museum on Saturday (and possibly Betty Lynn signing autographs at the Museum on Friday, but that’s not currently officially planned this year) and some episode screenings and other activities around the gazebo at the Mayberry Motor Inn. Click HERE for details. Come and join the fun if you can!
In the meantime, here are some pictures from recent chapter gatherings and happenings:
That’s the news from chapters for this issue. If your chapter has news or photos (or artwork) to share, we always love hearing about what you’re up to. Send your submissions to Goober@imayberry.com.
Reeling in Mayberry
Post-production for the Mayberry Man movie, written and directed by Stark Howell and produced by Cort Howell (both sons of Hoke Howell, aka Mayberry’s Dud Wash) and co-produced by Greg Schell (son of Ronnie Schell,) is 99% complete at this point. The focus is now on distribution in order to allow as many people as possible to get to see the movie.
Toward that end, three VIP Red Carpet Screening Events are planned in September. This first trio of screenings will be excluively for backers and others involved in the production of the film.
The first of these private premiere screenings will be at the Royal Theater in Danville, Ind., on September 4. It will be followed by a West Coast premiere at Laemmle Theatre in Newhall, Calif., on September 13 and then the East Coast premiere at Creekside Cinemas in Mount Airy, N.C., on September 24, the Wednesday of Mayberry Days® week.
There will also be a private (again invitation only) screening available online for one day only (September 28) and only for backers. (Being a backer has its privileges!) The plan is for the movie then to be available for general audiences in selected theaters beginning in October. The producers are forgoing the usual method of distribution to theaters, which typically involves making a deal with an official distributor.
In true Mayberry fashion, the Mayberry Man team has chosen instead to depend on positive word of mouth to get their movie into those theaters where moviegoers want to see it. So, if you would like to see Mayberry Man come to a theater near you, be sure to let your favorite theater know.
Meanwhile, for those on Facebook, here’s a link to the official trailer for Mayberry Man.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome and Keith “Col. Harvey” Brown. You can check out the fun and sign up for free at: http://imayberrycommunity.com.
The iMayberry Community complements our other online activities, including our main www.imayberry.com page, podcasts, Facebook pages, online newsletters (such as The eBullet!), weaversdepartmentstore.com and chat rooms.
“Two Chairs, No Waiting” is our weekly podcast of TAGS news, interviews and pretty much whatever happens to be going on in and around Mayberry. It’s hosted by Allan Newsome.
There’s a new episode every Tuesday (and you can watch and listen live during tapings on Monday evenings). Past episodes are in an online Archives in case you want to listen to or view ones you’ve missed. (As of this week, there have been an amazing 640 episodes since Allan started the podcasts in 2008!).
And you’ll also find links on our Podcasts web page to another outstanding Mayberry-related podcast: Burke on Mayberry, also a long-running program, hosted by TAGSRWC’s Kevin Burke.
TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook so far has over 250,000 Likes and almost that many followers! You can find us at www.facebook.com/tagsrwc. If you haven’t already dropped by the page, we hope you’ll check it out sometime when you have the chance. We invite you to become a TAGSRWC Facebook Friend!
We also have links in our “Liked by this Page” section to the pages of several TAGSRWC chapters on Facebook (including the Gomer and Goober Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild), as well as to Facebook pages of Mayberry Days®, the Andy Griffith Museum, TAGS actors and others..
Even ol’ Ben Weaver has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. It features all the latest in Mayberry items and merchandise news.
And TAGSRWC also has a growing presence on www.MeWe.com. Mayberry’s pioneering outpost on MeWe is “Sittin’ on a Velvet Pillow” chapter, headed up by Lynn Thomas. That group was followed in short order by Allan Newsome and the “Two Chairs, No Waiting” Podcast and by “Only One Word I Can Think of…Big” (a TAGSRWC group that’s also on Facebook), administered by Myron Clark and Tommy Rainwater and an able crew.
In case you’re not familiar with MeWe, it’s similar to Facebook. It’s just smaller and a bit calmer. It has no ads. So, it’s more along the lines of a quiet street like Willow or Woods Way as compared to the hustle and bustle of Main Street in downtown Mayberry. (“You’re on my foot! You’re on my foot!”) If you’re looking to “relax, slow down, take it easy,” then you might want to check out some of the TAGSRWC groups on MeWe.
**** Post Note ****
You can catch up on Mayberry news with back issues of The eBullet by visiting the eBullet Archives in the Newsletters section at imayberry.com. Each issue is placed in the Archives at the same time that it’s published.
Between issues of The eBullet, keep up with all the happenings in Mayberry with the daily Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board? (aka “WBMUTBB?”) Digest. It’s a free subscriber list that consists entirely of comments, newsflashes, and questions and answers from subscribers. You can sign up for that list by going to the Mailing Lists link at tagsrwc.com. “WBMUTBB?” also has its own Archives where you can follow the ongoing stream of messages.
TAGSRWC publishes Weaver’s Newsletter (our brother-figure publication) in alternate months to The eBullet. Like The eBullet, Weaver’s Newsletter is free. Its focus is tilted slightly more to Mayberry merchandise and collectibles and quick newsflashes. It has some content overlap with The eBullet–sometimes earlier and sometimes later, depending on the timing of the news. To sign up, go to Weaver’s Newsletter Sign-Up.
The next issue of The eBullet, our pre-Mayberry Days® edition, is scheduled for September. Our next issue of Weaver’s Newsletter will be in August.