Welcome to our third issue for 2017! There's a lot of Mayberry news this month, including a bunch of new items we've added to our online shelves at Weaver's. In fact, in the past couple of months, we've added more new items than in any similar period in the past decade. We invite you to browse our Weaver's Department Store site to see what you might find.
Here are some highlights. We'll start with merchandise and then share upcoming events and discuss other news.
**** Merchandise Update ****
With short-sleeve weather in full swing (hooray!), what better time to shop for some new Mayberry T-shirts? We now have more than 40 different designs to choose from.
An item we're particularly pleased to offer is a CD compilation of 45 tunes from three acclaimed Dillards albums (Back Porch Bluegrass, Live Almost and Pickin' and Fiddlin'), all on a new 2-CD set. Check out the long list of tracks (including many songs that The Dillards played as the Darling boys in Mayberry).
GreenLight Collectibles has put our love of Mayberry into a 1:64th scale replica of the Mayberry squad car. This die-cast replica is the same size as the 1961 squad car released in 1998 by Johnny Lightning.
This is an officially licensed, limited-edition run, so don't delay and miss the chance to add this 1967 Ford Custom Mayberry Squad Car to your collection.
Brand new. Just released this week! This is the first time the 1986 Return to Mayberry movie has been released on DVD as a stand-alone product.
Note: If you already have The Andy Griffith Show 50th Anniversary--The Best of Mayberry DVD or the Box Set of All Eight Seasons of The Andy Griffith Show on DVD, then you have this movie. Mr. Weaver doesn't want to discourage a purchase, but Bert Miller also doesn't want you to buy anything unless you really need it.
And remember that Weaver's sales help support Mayberry events and Mayberry-related charitable causes all year long at locations all around the country. Those sales also help keep our online Mayberry newsletters and communities available to everybody free of charge.
Floyd's Barbershop Bulletin Board
The Andy Griffith Museum, featuring the late Emmett Forrest's amazing collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia, is open daily in Mount Airy, N.C. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 16: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 19: A public screening of The Real Mayberry, at 7:30 at Silverspot, 201 S. Estes Dr., Chapel Hill, N.C. A Q&A session with director Bill Hayes will follow. The 2016 documentary examines how Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy is adapting to changing economic and cultural circumstances while also maintaining its small-t0wn values and charm. For advance tickets, visit the Silverspot website.
* June 23-25: Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) and Alan Oppenheimer (Mr. Ruskin in "Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting") appear at the Fan Boy Expo in Knoxville, Tenn. For more info, visit www.fanboyexpo.com/knoxville.
* June 29-30: Roland White and his band perform at the Starvy Creek Bluegrass Festival in Conway, Mo.
* July 8: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents a lecture on the "Convicts-at- Large" episode of TAGS, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with an Andy Griffith Museum admission ($6). Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 21: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 21-22: Coinciding with the weekend of Betty Lynn's July meet-and-greet at the Andy Griffith Museum, the Mayberry Meet-Up will be held in Mount Airy, N.C., this weekend.
This informal gathering is being coordinated by Allan "Floyd" Newsome as a chance for fans to gather and enjoy Mount Airy during a quieter time of year than with the wall-to-wall activities and crowds of Mayberry Days (also not to be missed!) in September.
There's usually a loose schedule of planned activities that folks can pick and choose from. It's mostly just a chance to hang out and relax in Mount Airy with fellow visitors and local friends. Click this link for the Mayberry Motor Inn website for room reservation info. The motel and its gazebo serve as the home base for weekend. Details TBA soon.
* Aug. 5: Mayberry Night in Troy, N.C., starring Maggie Peterson, the VW Boys and most of the Mayberry tribute artists in a fundraiser show for the local DARE program. Dixie Griffith (daughter of Andy) will also be a special guest. Showtime at the James Garner Center is 7 p.m. Reserved seating is $20, General Admission tickets are $15 and admission for kids ages 6-12 is $10. For advance tickets or info, contact Jeff Branch at email@example.com or (704) 985-6987.
* Aug. 12: Mayberry 101 author Neal Brower presents a lecture on the "Prisoner of Love" episode of TAGS, starting at 2 p.m., in the Andy Griffith Museum Theatre in Mount Airy, N.C. Admission is included with an Andy Griffith Museum admission ($6). Visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 18: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 15: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Sept. 20-24: 28th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C. Stars confirmed so far are Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Rodney Dillard (and the current Dillards band), Ronnie Schell (two episodes and also Duke Slater on "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.), Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey), Bettina Linke (wife of late associate producer Richard O. Linke), and Karen Knotts.
Also booked to perform are the VW Boys, Michael Hoover and his "Memories of Elvis" show, the Malpass Brothers, Balsam Range, The Tams, The Lisemby Family, and James Gregory ("the funniest man in America"). Neal Brower will also be presenting his popular Professor Brower's Lecture.
Many more details TBA. For more info, visit www.mayberrydays.org. Tickets are already available for several performances and activities.
* Sept. 23: Missouri Boatride (with Dean Webb on mandolin) performs at the Carl Junction Bluegrass Festival in Carl Junction, Mo. (just a few miles northwest of Joplin).
* Oct. 19: Karen Knotts performs "Tied Up in Knotts" at 7 p.m. at the Gaslight Music Hall in Oro Valley, Ariz. For more info, visit www.gaslightmusichall.com.
* Oct. 20: Betty Lynn greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8 x 10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Oct. 22: Karen Knotts gives the keynote speech titled "Don Knotts Rides Again" at the Wild Bunch Film Festival in Wilcox, Ariz. For info, visit www.thewildbunchfilmfestival.com.
* Oct. 24-29: Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) is the special guest star for Cruise to Mayberry 12. This year's cruise is for five days aboard Carnival's Ecstasy, departing Charleston, S.C., and traveling to Freeport and Nassau in the Bahamas.
Margaret will be joined by the usual cruise company of Mayberry tribute artists and musical entertainers. For more info, visit www.allaboutcruisesnc.net or call 1-800-832-7993.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard is set direct a documentary about the life of the late opera legend Luciano Pavarotti. Imagine Entertainment and other partners from the Grammy-winning The Beatles: Eight Days a Week--The Touring Years documentary (also directed by Ron) return to produce this one.
Other directing jobs currently in Ron's queue include adaptations of the novels Seveneves and The Girl Before.
Ron's "Genius" TV series on the NatGeo Channel continues to get great reviews and audiences. (Ron directed the first episode and is one of the executive producers.)
The new asking price for Ron's apartment in the Eldorado building on Manhattan's Upper West Side (3-bedroom, 2.5-bath unit with a private elevator) is $11.5 million. That's reduced from the original price of $12.5 million.
Clint Howard has several films that are either wrapping up editing or about to start production. And it wouldn't surprise followers of the Nashville-based "Still the King" TV series to see Clint return as Crazy Dave in the second season.
Rance Howard (father of Ron and Clint) likewise has several film projects about to get underway.
And we're late reporting that Rance's wife, Judy, passed away in January of Alzheimer's. Judy was a noted journalist, playwright, and novelist. She and Rance were married in 2001, after both her first husband and Rance's wife Jean (mother of Ron and Clint) died the previous year. Survivors besides Rance and other Howard family members, include two daughters from her first marriage and four grandchildren. The sympathies of Mayberry are with the family.
Though officially retired, Jim Nabors still does occasional performances in Hawaii, where he lives. He has performed a few songs during at least one event so far this year, but mostly is just enjoying a quiet life at home in his tropical paradise.
Betty Lynn wasn't able to attend late April's Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in person this year, but she did participate by phone during a luncheon that celebrated her 90th birthday, which was last August, but it's a year-long celebration! She talked with the audience at the packed banquet hall. The song she requested that the audience sing was "You Are My Sunshine."
Betty's next day to greet fans at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy, N.C., is June 16 (this Friday).
Maggie Peterson and Margaret Kerry attended this year's Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival. TAGS alum Dabbs Greer (four episodes) was posthumously inducted into the Missouri Walk of Fame during the festival.
Margaret Kerry was also at ComiCon in Philadelphia in April, and she participated in a big Easter Egg Hunt event in California. Go Margaret go!
Julie Adams (Nurse Mary in "The County Nurse") also recently made a comic-book convention appearance. Hers was closer to home at the San Fernando Valley Comic Book Convention on June 4.
Maggie Peterson was just getting warmed up for her spring tour, too. She joined TV brother Rodney Dillard and his band (plus David "Mayberry Deputy" Browning) the next weekend for their Mayberry Moments show in Duluth, Ga.
And after a weekend off, Maggie was back on the road--this time with Ronnie Schell for the Mayberry in the Midwest festival in Danville, Ind., where they were joined by Dixie Griffith (Andy's daughter) and several Mayberry tribute artists.
Dean Webb, ace mandolin player of the Original Dillards and the Darlings, celebrated his 80th birthday in March. He has recently been under the weather, but is on the mend at home, though he likely won't be climbing down ropes out of hotel windows again right away!
In her latest "Talk with Jackie" column in The Tolocan Times, Jackie Joseph-Lawrence (Mayberry's Sweet Romeena) writes about recent adventures that she and husband David Lawrence have had, including an interesting cruise to Bora Bora last year.
LeRoy McNees (the Dobro-playing Country Boy) and his Gloryland bluegrass-gospel band have been playing gigs close to home in California.
George Spence, Frank the Boyfriend in "Guest in the House" (Episode 151) and a longtime Mayberry Days favorite, has been dealing with some health issues, but is recovering back at home in North Carolina.
George Lindsey's alma mater, the University of North Alabama, is in the process of trying to complete funding of the George Lindsey Film and Media Endowed Scholarship at the university. It is an effort that TAGSRWC, Weaver's and other Mayberry groups and individuals have been supporting.
As the endowment approaches its funding deadline later this year, we'll be more "pushy" about creating awareness and support for this worthy cause in honor of our late friend George. For now, here's a link where you can make a donation: www.una.edu/alumni/georgelindseyscholarship.
George Lindsey Jr. has recovered well from a health hiccup late last year. He reports that he's booking lots of dates for his Wild West comedy show at fairs. And he and Eric Norquist (son of Margaret Kerry) are working on some new material for their "Eric and George--A One-Man Show" comedy presentation.
Dorothy Best (wife of the late James Best) is starring in a production of Neil Simon's Chapter Two opening June 22 at the Hickory (N.C.) Community Theatre. F0r details, visit www.hickorytheatre.org.
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan "Floyd" Newsome with big help from 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 classic installments you've missed. (As of this week, there have been 430 episodes since Allan started the podcasts almost nine years ago.)
And you'll also find links on that web page to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts: Burke on Mayberry (hosted by TAGSRWC's Kevin Burke) and the Mayberry Bible Study Podcast (again hosted by Allan Newsome).
TAGSRWC's official page on Facebook has over 242,000 friends! 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 Goober and Gomer Pyle Comic Book Literary Guild, which has fascinating daily history contributions by member Randy Turner), as well as to Facebook pages of Mayberry Days, the Andy Griffith Museum, TAGS actors and others.
Ben Weaver also has his own Facebook page at www.facebook.com/weaversdepartmentstore. It features all the latest in Mayberry items and merchandise news.
**** Post Note ****
Between issues of our Weaver’s Newsletter, keep up with the happenings in Mayberry with the daily “Who’s Been Messin’ Up the Bulletin Board?” Digest. It’s a free subscriber list that consists entirely of comments, news flashes, and questions and answers from subscribers. You can sign up for that list by going to the “Mailing Lists” link at www.tagsrwc.com.
TAGSRWC also publishes The eBullet in alternate months to Weaver’s Newsletter. The eBullet is the online successor to our longtime printed newsletter, The Bullet. Like Weaver’s Newsletter, The eBullet is free. It includes some of the same news as Weaver’s Newsletter, but generally with more features and depth and a little less emphasis on merchandise news. To sign up, go to: www.tagsrwc.com/ebullet.
TAGSRWC’s other main vehicle for Mayberry information is simply our website at www.tagsrwc.com (and its sister site www.iMayberry.com). Both sites have extensive content and links for just about everything a Mayberry fan might be looking for.
The next issue of Weaver’s Newsletter is scheduled for August, and the next eBullet will be out in July.