An Online newsletter of
“The Andy Griffith Show” Rerun Watchers Club (TAGSRWC)
Before getting to any other news this issue, we want to begin with...
Remembering James Best
Even as we remember and celebrate his life, Mayberry and the world continue to mourn the loss of James Best, Mayberry’s Jim Lindsey. He died April 6 from complications of pneumonia. He was just 88.
I say just 88, because Jimmie, the youthful nickname he preferred, was always as exuberant about life as anyone I’ve ever known, whether age 8 or 88. He was still living his life with absolute gusto, which is a word that has always immediately come to my mind when being around Jimmie or thinking about him and all that he did in his life—and how he lived his life.
Jimmie was in no hurry to leave this world. He had a lot more that he was ready to do. As he told the Winston-Salem Journal’s Tim Clodfelter five years ago, “When they plant my butt in the ground, I’m still going to be saying, ‘Just one more take!’”
At the same time, Jimmie was prepared. He no doubt had done the math, as we all start to do as we age. With age came great wisdom and perspective for Jimmie, as, again, we all hope they will come for us. But he didn’t let wisdom get in the way of continuing to enjoy his full-throttle way of life, the Best life.
I had the privilege of working with Jimmie on his 2009 autobiography, Best in Hollywood: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful. I was billed as his co-writer on the project, and he treated me with every bit of the respect of an equal partner. But make no mistake—I was basically the student eagerly learning from a person I considered to be a genuine creative genius. I was honored to be considered his collaborator. I would’ve been just as happy to be his typist, which was all that I needed to be much of the time, because great storytelling simply flowed from Jimmie.
When we began working on the book, we met at Dorothy and Jimmie’s house in Florida to record what we all thought would be the first of many rounds of interviews needed for his book. Instead, after the first day, Jimmie had been so efficient in telling tales that, when we were done for the day, we already had what essentially would be the entire book, the story of his life.
Granted, it was a very long day of talking for him. And Jimmie would later think of some other stories to add here and there, and there was a lot of rewriting and editing and selecting photos still to be done. And a lot of typing. But in large part, in one day of enthralling storytelling, Jimmie had created and performed an entire book on tape for me. I was amazed at his creative energy and work ethic. Oh, and we even had time in the middle of it all to go to the local Bruster’s for ice cream. With Jimmie, there was always time for ice cream.
One of the many things that is amazing to me about Jimmie is the passion he had for so many different things. His seven-decade love for acting and performing would be more than enough to satisfy the creative interests of most of us. But he was also an avid teacher. He taught acting and film technique in workshops, as well as on the faculty of colleges and universities, from coast to coast, for over 25 years.
On the subject of acting and performing, one of the things he emphasized most was the importance of being able to turn up your personal wattage, just like a light bulb. A performer needs to shine brightly to be noticed, he said. At the very least, a light first must be turned on. And Jimmie knew that he wasn’t talking just about performing. He knew we all need to have our personal lights glowing in life. Zen masters and others might call this being fully present or “in the moment.” Some might call it focus or charisma. Call it what you will. Jimmie not only knew about it. He had it. He had presence. His light always shone brightly.
Jimmie was also a skilled painter, and one who didn’t settle for one medium. He mastered the intricacies of oils, acrylics and watercolors. And he was likewise an accomplished writer. Again, not of just one type of writing, but several, including poems, songs (that were good enough to be recorded by others), screenplays, plays and eventually his book. Jimmie was no dabbler. He wanted his paintings to be bought and the words he wrote to be performed and published.
Jimmie was an expert marksman and a black belt in karate. He was also an avid player of online video games. And it wasn’t “Candy Crush” for him. He played “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty” with players around the world who often were one-fourth his age. And when he won, which he did a lot, he might good-naturedly let his opponents know that they had just been literally Bested by Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane. Not every vanquished player at first believed Jimmie was who he said he was, but the smart ones believed and paid attention and learned something from the wily marksman gamer who had been a Air Corps gunner and later fought the German Werwolf gangs while an MP in World War II.
And I haven’t even touched on Jimmie’s real passion, the thing he would rather be doing than all of the activities I’ve mentioned so far. Fishing. Jimmie went fishing every chance he could. He rarely lived far from good fishing spots, and, when he could, he chose to live on the nearest available habitable land to a good spot.
While on location shooting Shenandoah one day, James Stewart was filming an important scene up on a bridge while Jimmie, who was not in that particular scene (or, for that matter, in nearly as many other scenes in general as Mr. Stewart the star was), was fishing in the stream down below. Jimmie’s fishing caught the attention of Mr. Stewart, who was a great friend and idol to Jimmie. As Jimmie describes in his book, Mr. Stewart came down the bank to ask Jimmie what he was doing.
“I’m fishing,” Jimmie replied.
“Yeah, well, I can see that,” Mr. Stewart said. “Uh, why is it I’m up here working my tail off, and uh…you’re down here fishing?
“Well, Mr. Stewart, if I ever get as rich and famous as you are, I’ll go up there and act, and you can come down here and fish.”
“You’ve got a point there,” Mr. Stewart conceded.
With typical self-deprecation and humor, Jimmie observed in his book that he continued for the rest of his acting career to be able to get in a lot of fishing.
Though he loved fishing, Jimmie never tolerated fishy behavior. Whenever he sensed an injustice, whether to himself or others, he stood up and called out the wrong-doers. And if necessary, he would fight. He would get especially riled if the injustice involved the big or powerful taking advantage of the small or defenseless, whether they be people or animals. A good example of this was his standing up for Flash the basset hound and his trainer on “The Dukes of Hazzard.” He felt they weren’t being treated fairly or compensated adequately. He threatened to quit the show in support of their fair treatment. The studio came to understand that Jimmie was right, and Flash and his trainer got the full respect they deserved.
Jimmie also stood up to Warner Bros. over failure to pay required royalties for “Dukes of Hazzard” merchandise, including items with the likeness of Rosco and of Flash, whom Jimmie again went to battle for on behalf of his trainer. That clash raged for decades, with Jimmie eventually suing the mighty studio. Just before going to trial a few years ago, an undisclosed settlement was reached. Jimmie’s smile was not undisclosed.
But don’t get the idea that combat-ready Jimmie didn’t have his tender side. He was also the man who made a point of keeping a supply of “doggie num nums” handy to give to dogs, usually Flash-wannabe basset hounds that fans would bring to greet him at “Dukes of Hazzard” gatherings. Jimmie and Dorothy were longtime advocates for animals, especially dogs. They participated in a lot of charitable efforts, and they generously donated their time and many of his paintings to pet causes.
Jimmie had still other passions. He wrote about those in his book. With Jimmie, there were no nifty shades of gray. It’s all there in black and white. So…read the book! It’s an amazing adventure story.
Jimmie had for decades been a popular guest at film festivals, especially ones for old Westerns. Jimmie had parts in dozens of them, from routine B Westerns to classics. He had become used to there being interest in his various works of decades earlier. Even so, I think he was initially surprised at what a large and lasting impression his two episodes in the first season of “The Andy Griffith Show” continued to have with Mayberry fans.
Jimmie’s participation in and popularity at Mayberry reunions and festivals outpaced even the nostalgia for his work in Westerns and war pictures—and likely his landmark work in episodes of “Alfred Hitchcock” and “The Twilight Zone” as well. Only the popularity of his work on “Dukes” was greater over time. And the worlds of Mayberry and Hazzard County made for an easy blend. Jimmie could play the Jim Lindsey card or the Rosco card to the equal delight of Mayberry audiences. His face-offs as Rosco vs. the Mayberry Deputy (with tribute actor and friend David Browning) became wildly popular routines at Mayberry events, and also at “Dukes” affairs.
Through all the years I knew Jimmie, first at Western film festivals and then countless Mayberry-related occasions, his beloved wife Dorothy was always by his side. They were the definition of a true partnership—as strong of a team as you’ll ever find in Hollywood or anywhere else. It was a good thing she likes to fish! They ran their various enterprises together and produced films together and shared a love of dogs. Along with all of their mutual passions, they also shared a real compassion for others, whether people or animals, which came through in their charitable efforts.
Whenever he could, especially in later years, Jimmie worked with family members, both in projects he produced and ones they steered. This family involvement included independent films with daughter Janeen, who writes and produces films with husband Michael Damian, who often also directs. And marketing whiz daughter JoJami is also involved in family projects. Jimmie and Dorothy called their production company Best Friend Films with deliberate purpose. They wanted to work with friends. And with Jimmie, if you were a friend, you were like family. There was never a person more loyal to his friends. As in so many Westerns, Jimmie’s word was his bond. The only difference was that you didn’t have to spit on your hand and shake on a deal like they did in the Old West. His word was enough.
Even given all the achievements of Jimmie’s career and the fullness of his life in general, I think one of the attributes that is most revealing about him was a little thing—his laugh. He would sometimes have a full-throated laugh, but the one I thought was most endearing was his chuckle when something tickled him. And when something really delighted him, he’d basically giggle nonstop like a little kid. Pillsbury could’ve sold a lot more dough if they would’ve hired him! As often as not, the giggling would start in the middle of some story he was telling, which just made the story all the more charming. You couldn’t help but giggle right along with him.
For me, Jimmie’s easy laugh was a sign of his ever-present pure joy about life. I hope I can always hear that laugh in my mind’s ear. Not to mention Rosco’s trademark “kee-kee-kee” snuffle. The smiles from that will be happily ricocheting through “Dukes” reruns for generations to come. That has been the wish requested by Dorothy and all of Jimmie’s family: “Remember him with laughter.” And so we will.
Editor’s Note: Here’s a link to Jimmie’s official obituary, which is followed by statements from friends, including Betty Lynn and others from Mayberry, as well as one from Burt Reynolds, and several from the “Dukes of Hazzard” cast and other longtime pals.
In addition, here’s a fine story by Mark Washburn of The Charlotte Observer, which was first to report the news of Jimmie’s passing. And here’s a link to a September 2014 interview with Cameron Kent of WXII-TV in which Jimmie talks about “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Our imayberry.com webmaster Allan Newsome has also set up a James Best Memorial Page that includes a place for anyone to leave a comment about Jimmie. this week's installment, Episode #326, of Allan's Two Chairs, No Waiting podcast is all about Jimmie. And there’s also info on Jimmie’s own website at www.jamestbest.com.
**** News of Cast & Crew ****
Ron Howard has been busy scouting locations and mapping out camera angles and other details as he prepares to start filming Inferno (starring Tom Hanks and Felicity Jones) at several locations in Europe this month. The release date for the film is October 2016.
Ron and his Imagine Film Entertainment team are also pleased to have secured backing from Sony Pictures and MRC for their ambitious plans to bring The Dark Tower, based on the popular series of novels by Stephen King, to TV and to theaters. As faithful readers of this newsletter will recall, putting all the pieces together for this complex film project (involving equally complex stories) has been a multi-year saga. But it looks like the financial pieces are now in place.
In a statement, Stephen King said, “I’m excited that The Dark Tower is finally going to appear on the screen. Those who have traveled with Roland and his friends in their search for the Dark Tower are going to have their long-held hopes fully realized. This is a brilliant and creative approach to my books.”
It hasn't yet been announced whether Ron might direct any of the installments of either the TV series portion or the parts that will be released in theaters. There continues to be strong speculation that he will do so--especially given his avid dedication to getting The Dark Tower made.
With backing from GE, Ron and Imagine partner Brian Grazer are also producing "Breakthrough" a six-part science and technology documentary series that will premiere on the National Geographic Channel in November. Ron is scheduled to direct one of the hour-long episodes.
Brother Clint Howard is currently filming a horror movie titled Funhouse Massacre. We're not sure how it compares to The Monster from out of Town, but just the title is enough to scare us away.
And father Rance Howard has parts of varying sizes (including the Devil as an Old Man) in several movies that have recently completed filming or are in pre-production, including Old Soldiers, which was also to have starred James Best.
The first day of spring found Betty Lynn at her monthly meet-and-greet at the Andy Griffith Museum in Mount Airy. And she'll also be there this Friday, April 17, as well. See Floyd's calendar below for details. If you're nearby, drop by and get an autographed photo and your picture taken with Betty!
A specific site has been selected for the Don Knotts statue in his hometown of Morgantown, W.V. Fundraising for the statue has met its goal (thanks in part to generous donations from TAGSRWC members). Additional donations received will go toward upkeep of the statue and the surrounding grounds. Current plans are for a festival and unveiling in the summer of 2016. (There will also be preliminary festivities this July, including Karen Knotts performing her one-woman show in Morgantown. See Floyd’s bulletin board below.)
The 18th Annual George Lindsey UNA Film Festival was another big success in early March. Despite being held on the heels of one of the big snow/ice storms that hit the region, the festival on the campus of the University of North Alabama (George’s alma mater) in Florence drew good crowds, had several interesting panel discussions (including the keynote panel on music and film with some of Hollywood’s top music supervisors) and selected 30 independent films to show out of the almost 3,000 that were submitted.
Elinor Donahue participated in a TAGS promo for MeTV that’s currently in rotation on the channel and can also be viewed online at www.metvnetwork.com/videos. There’s also a bunch of other creative and fun promos for TAGS and other TV shows on the MeTV site.
TAGS associate producer Richard O. (Dick) Linke (also personal manager to several TAGS stars, including Andy Griffith) reports from his home in Hawaii that his old pal Tony Bennett stopped by for a good visit while performing on the islands in February. But even more exciting was the arrival in March of new grandson Leo Joseph, who joins his siblings and parents living in the family compound with Dick and grandma Bettina.
Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins and Helen Scobey) expects her much anticipated autobiography will be available in May. It should be fascinating, just like her life!
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.
* Now- Apr. 19: Ronnie Schell performs at the Improv Comedy Club at Harrah’s Las Vegas Hotel & Casino. For more info, visit www.caesars.com/harrahs-las-vegas.
* Apr. 17: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Apr. 23 and 24: Eagles’ Wings fundraiser event in Tuscaloosa, Ala. The golf tourney is on Thurs., and the dinner, silent auction, and entertainment are on Fri. night at the Bryant Conference Center. David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis Junkin,” Tim “Goober” Pettigrew, Jeff “Howard Sprague” Branch, Bob “Briscoe” Mundy, Christie “Andelina Darling” McLendon, Phil “Ernest T.” Fox, and Michael “Gomer” Oliver are among the entertainers with Mayberry connections. Make plans to attend this annual event that supports Eagles’ Wings efforts to assist adults with disabilities. For info, call (205) 345-5484 or visit www.eagleswingsoftuscaloosa.org.
* Apr. 23-25: Maggie Peterson and Morgan Brittany are featured guests for the Missouri Cherry Blossom Festival in Marshfield. For more info, visit www.cherryblossomfest.com.
* Apr. 26: Ronnie Schell headlines two fundraiser performances for the Richmond Museum in Richmond, Calif. “Ronnie Schell & His Funny Friends” will be presented at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Topline Theater, 1402 Marina Way in Richmond. Tickets are $30. For tickets and info, call (510) 235-7387.
* May 1 and 2: Fifth Annual Mayberry Comes to Westminster festival in Westminster, S.C. Special guest star is Dobro wiz and TAGS alum LeRoy McNees. In addition there will other Mayberry-related music venues, parades, arts and crafts, food booths, a car and tractor show, trivia and whistling contests, a Bible study, a silent auction and more. And Mayberry favorites the VW Boys and David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning will present their “Memories of Mayberry” show Saturday afternoon. For more info, visit www.mayberrywestminster.com or check out Mayberry Comes to Westminster, S.C., on Facebook.
* May 2: 28th Annual Uncle Jesse Big Bass Classic (founded by Denver Pyle) in Paris, Tex. For more info, visit: www.unclejessefishing.com.
* May 5-8: Memories from Mayberry: Timeless Truths from America’s Hometown offers a fun TAGS experience in another one of America’s hometowns, lovely Clarksville, Tenn. (about an hour north of Nashville). The event features fun-filled Bible studies based on favorite episodes, uplifting preaching and worship, gospel concerts, a visit to Fort Campbell, and more. The all-inclusive price includes three nights, seven meals, and program fee. Contact Frances at email@example.com for more info.
* May 8: Margaret Kerry will be spreading pixie dust at the Tinker Bell Marathon at Disneyland.
* May 9: David “Mayberry Deputy/Honest Abe” Browning performs his one-man From Gettysburg to Mayberry show as a “Song of the Mountains” fundraiser at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va. Show time is 7 p.m. Tickets are just 1,500 pennies or three fins. For more info, visit www.thelincoln.org.
* May 12 and 13: Dean Webb and The Missouri Boatride performs at the Bluegrass and BBQ Festival at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Mo. For more info, visit www.silverdollarcity.com.
* May 15: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* May 15-17: Mayberry in the Midwest returns to Danville, Ind. Among the festival’s highlights are the parade, the Mayberry Squad Car Nationals, and performances by the Mayberry Tribute Artists. The special guest stars this year are Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling) and her Darling TV brother, Rodney Dillard, and the Dillard Band, who will do a concert on Saturday. Karen Knotts will also present a keynote talk titled “A Deputy’s Daughter” (different than her “Tied Up in Knotts” one-woman show) on Sat. and Sun. afternoons. Other details TBA. Visit www.mayberryinthemidwest.com for more info and updates.
* May 16: Darling boy Dean Webb fires up his mandolin with The Missouri Boatride Bluegrass Band when they perform as part of the FREE Bluegrass on the Lake concert series at the Hillbilly Bowl in Kimberling City, Mo. Show time is 7 p.m.
* May 23: Dean Webb and his Missouri Boatride buddies perform at the Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield in Springfield, Mo. The concert is free and starts at 6:30 p.m.
* May 23: Ronnie Schell is a special guest star for Altoona Day, which runs from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., in downtown Altoona, Ala. Ronnie is among the stars, including Gunilla Hutton (Billie Jo Bradley on “Petticoat Junction” and Nurse Goodbody on “Hee Haw”), who will be greeting fans and signing autographs (for a fee) at this popular festival in eastern Alabama that features food, arts & crafts, music, classic cars and much more. For more info, call (205) 589-2311.
* May 23: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning patrols the 100th Somernites Cruise Car Show in Somerset, Ky. For more info, visit www.somernitescruise.com.
* May 30: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning navigates the Clinch River Days festival in St. Paul, Va.
* June 5 and 6: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, and Christie “Andelina Darling” McLendon are back on the truck (or maybe off the wagon in one case) for Mule Days in Gordo, Ala.
* June 13: Darling mandolin man Dean Webb and The Missouri Boatride Bluegrass Band perform as part of the FREE Bluegrass on the Lake concert series in the parking lot outside the Hillbilly Bowl in Kimberling City, Mo. Show time is 7 p.m. Bring your own comfortable seating.
* June 13: Neal Brower, author of Mayberry 101, presents a lecture on the “Bailey’s Bad Boy” episode of TAGS, featuring Bill Bixby, 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. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 18-21: Roland White performs as part of a Kentucky Colonels tribute at the Father’s Day Bluegrass Festival in Grass Valley, Calif. For more info, visit www.fathersdayfestival.com.
* June 19: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* June 26: It’s darn fun when David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning visits the Salem (Va.) Red Sox baseball game.
* July 4: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Phil “Ernest T.” Fox, Jeff “Howard Sprague” Branch, Michael “Gomer” Oliver, and Georgia “Aunt Bee” Branam harvest laughs at the Southeast Old Threshers Reunion festival in Denton, N.C. They’ll do shows with the Burrows Brothers bluegrass band at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. For more info, visit www.farmpark.com.
* July 11: Neal Brower, author of Mayberry 101, presents a lecture on the “Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bee” 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. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 11: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning adds Mayberry harmony to the Sing II Faith in Action Fundraiser at the Paramount Theatre in Bristol, Tenn.
* July 11 and 12: Roland White Band performs at the Frankfort Bluegrass Festival in Frankfort, Ill.
* July 14: David Mayberry Deputy” Browning sets up Checkpoint Chickie at the International Norton Owners Association Carolina Vintage Motorcycle Rally.
* July 17: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* July 17-19: Mayberry Meet-Up in Mount Airy, N.C. Timed in part to coincide with Betty Lynn‘s autograph session on Friday, 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 a light 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. The Mayberry Motor Inn and its gazebo serve as the home base for weekend. Click the highlighted link above for details.
* July 18: Karen Knotts performs her one-woman “Tied Up in Knotts” show at 7:30 p.m. at University High School in her dad’s hometown of Morgantown, W.V.
* July 25: Darling mandolin man Dean Webb and The Missouri Boatride Bluegrass Band perform as part of the FREE Bluegrass on the Lake concert series in the parking lot outside the Hillbilly Bowl in Kimberling City, Mo. Show time is 7 p.m. Bring your own comfortable seating.
* Aug. 6-8: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning stalks fun at the Tazewell County Fair in Tazewell, Va.
* Aug. 8: Neal Brower, author of Mayberry 101, presents a lecture on the “Andy and Opie, Housekeepers”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. For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 12: Karen Knotts performs her “Tied Up in Knotts” show to the Red Skelton Museum in Vincennes, Ind. David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning also performs. Show time is 7 p.m., and tickets are $10. For info, call (812) 888-4184.
* Aug. 14 and 15: Karen Knotts brings “Tied Up in Knotts” at the Kentucky Classic Arts Theatre in Lebanon, Ky. Tickets are $10. For more info or tickets, call (270) 321-0218 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
* Aug. 21: Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) greets fans at the Andy Griffith Museum 12:30-3:30 p.m. She will have autographed 8×10 photos available ($10). For info, visit the website at www.andygriffithmuseum.org or call (336) 786-1604.
* Aug. 22: Rodney Dillard and Maggie Peterson are joined by several of the Mayberry tribute artists (including David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning, Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Phil “Ernest T.” Fox, and Jeff “Howard” Branch) for a concert benefiting the Montgomery County DARE program on Saturday at the James H. Garner Center in Troy, N.C. Tickets for the show are $20 for reserved seats and $15 for general admission. Tickets for children 6 years-12 years old are $10. For more info, call Jeff Branch at (704) 985-6987, e-mail email@example.com, or visit www.bluegrassintroy.com.
* Aug. 29 and 30: David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning is on track for the 25th Annual Depot Days in Amboy, Ill.
* Sept. 20-23: Life Lessons From Mayberry: It’s All There in Black and White in Ridgecrest, N.C. (just outside Asheville) is a Bible study event drawing on the biblical truths and life applications found in “The Andy Griffith Show.” The event is $300 per person (based on double occupancy), and includes three nights of on-campus lodging, eight meals, Bible study sessions based on favorite TAGS episodes, dynamic preaching, worship, bluegrass concert, and special guest Margaret Kerry (Bess Muggins in “Christmas Story” and Helen Scobey in “Andy Forecloses”). To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at (800) 588-7222 or visit www.lifeway.com/mayberry.
* Sept. 24-27: 26th Annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, N.C. Mayberry Days started in 1990, so this 26th annual festival marks its 25th Anniversary, and also the 55th Anniversary of “The Andy Griffith Show” itself. The festival already shows signs of being more chock-full of fun than ever before. If that’s even possible!
Tickets are already available online for key parts of the weekend, including the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament (aka The Emmett) and banquet show; a concert by Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band, with special guest Maggie Peterson; the comedy show of James Gregory (“the funniest man in America”); the VW Boys Tribute to Mayberry; Neal Brower’s Lecture featuring TAGS assistant director Bruce Bilson (who, after his two seasons on TAGS, went on to be an Emmy-winning big-time director of other top TV shows); Colonel Tim’s Talent Time; and much, much more. For info, updates and tickets, visit www.surryarts.org .
* Oct. 3: 55th Anniversary of the airing of the first episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” on CBS.
* Oct. 3: Dean Webb and The Missouri Boatride perform at The Old Brush Arbor at Keystone Baptist Church in Reeds Spring, Mo.
* Oct. 8: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts” at 2 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio. Venue and other details TBA.
* Oct. 12-17: Ronnie Schell is the special guest star on the Cruise to Mayberry 10 to the Caribbean aboard Carnival’s Conquest cruise ship. The cruise departs Ft. Lauderdale for Grand Turk, Half Moon Cay, Nassau, and a “Fun Day” at sea.
Activities include a Mayberry trivia contest, whistling contest, Mayberry bible study, variety show, concerts, and entertainment by Tim White of the VW Boys and Mayberry tribute artists, including Allan “Floyd” Newsome, Kenneth “Otis” Junkin, Ronnie “Barney” Felker, Bob “Briscoe” Mundy, Christie “Andelina” McLendon, Jeff “Howard Sprague” Branch, Elease “Thelma Lou” Felker, Tim “Goober” Pettigrew and Keith “Colonel Harvey” Brown. “Elvis” tribute artist Wayne Euliss will also be a featured performer. For more info, visit www.allaboutcruisesnc.net/mayberry.php.
* Oct. 17: Karen Knotts performs “Tied Up in Knotts” at the Uptown Theater in Grand Prairie, Tex. Show time is 7 p.m. For more info and tickets, visitwww.uptowntheatergp.com.
* Dec. 3-5: Maggie Peterson (Charlene Darling) is the special guest for A Life Lessons from Mayberry Christmas in Ridgecrest, N.C. (just outside Asheville). This heartwarming weekend will feature Bible studies based on four popular TAGS episodes, inspirational preaching and carols, and a Christmas banquet. Come celebrate Christmas…Mayberry style! For every member of the family–children’s prices available. To register, call Ridgecrest Conference Center at (800) 588-7222 or visit www.ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/event/mayberrychristmas.
* Dec. 18: Maggie Peterson and Rodney Dillard and the Dillard Band are joined by David “Mayberry Deputy” Browning for a presentation of their Mayberry Christmas show at 7 p.m. ET at the historic State Theater in Elizabethtown, Ky.
**** Merchandise Update ****
We’re excited to have four brand new licensed T-shirts to kick off the T-shirt-wearing season! Check them out below. But one of the biggest changes at Weaver’s is one you may not at first notice…at least not until you order something from us.
That’s because, in March, and after 33 years, the retailing and order fulfillment part of Weaver’s (in other words, virtually all of what Weaver’s does) moved from Nashville, Tenn., to Huntsville, Ala., where Jan and Allan Newsome have taken over the handling of all online orders for Weaver’s.
The biggest thing about the change that will affect some shoppers is that shipments going to Alabama will now need to include payment of Alabama sales tax (drats!), and shipments going to Tennessee will no longer have to include Tennessee sales tax (hooray!).
There will surely be other changes and enhancements to Weaver’s as Jan and Allan get comfortable with the Weaver’s reins. Weaver’s could not be in better hands going forward. (Jan has extensive experience in retail, and Allan was already the Weaver’s webmaster, as he also is for the whole family of TAGSRWC and imayberry.com sites, and others.) Weaver’s is lucky to be able to have this smooth transition to two such capable friends who are already familiar to and respected by so many Mayberry fans.
TAGSRWC’s HQ will continue to be in Nashville. Things such as our printed and online newsletters (including Weaver's Newsletter) and chapter coordination will still be Goobered out of our Nashville home base. So, basically the main difference for now is that your Weaver’s shipments will come with a Huntsville postmark.
Anyway, enough about things behind the scenes. Here's a few of the items we’re featuring at Weaver’s this season. Go ahead and pick out something you like, and help keep Jan and Allan busy!
We’ve added these four great new T-shirt designs to our growing lineup of licensed apparel:
All four of the new designs are just $20, as are most of our T-shirts. (A few designs are $18, and the Lawmen all-over design is $25.) We also have sweatshirts and hoodies in two designs, as well as caps, Goober beanies, deputy patches and even a bandana.
Miss Crump’s Book Nook:
This new and outstanding book about TAGS was published in October. Within 10 weeks of its release, the U.S. began to take steps to normalize relations with Cuba for the first time since TAGS first aired. Coincidence? We think not. This book is that powerfully good!
Not only that, but Marco Rubio, the son of Cuban immigrants, has this week officially announced that he is running for President of the United States. So, no matter what your political persuasion, every Mayberry fan had better get up to date on our Cuban connection!
In any case and possibly even more important, A Cuban in Mayberry–Looking Back at America’s Hometown is the first book directly about the show itself in about a dozen years. It’s written by Gustavo Pérez Firmat, a native of Cuba who is a professor of humanities at Columbia University. (He also has lived and taught for decades in North Carolina.)
Don’t let the title fool you. This is neither a book about a lost episode nor some sort of fan fiction about Ricky Ricardo visiting Mayberry. It’s much more than that. This well-written 194-page book from the University of Texas Press is a very scholarly discussion about TAGS. It’s basically written from the perspective of somebody like “Stranger in Town” Ed Sawyer, someone who’s not native to Mayberry, but eagerly sees the joys and wants to understand and be a part of the friendly town.
For anyone who enjoys thinking about and understanding more about Mayberry, a description that likely fits most readers of this newsletter as much as any other community in the world, A Cuban in Mayberry is fascinating reading, maybe even essential. You probably won’t agree with all of Professor Pérez Firmat’s observations and conclusions about TAGS, but you’re sure to enjoy the journey.
You’ll find these items and much more, including books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, rare collectibles, tin signs, a Barney thermometer, board games, blankets, items for vehicles, etc., all online at www.weaversdepartmentstore.com. (Or just go to www.imayberry.com and click on one of the orange and blue Weaver’s buttons at the top.)
P.S. Don't Let This Happen to You!
Terri Morris left her copy of Aunt Bee's Mealtime in Mayberry home alone for just one hour with Gidget, her Jack Russell Terrier. This was the result:
We must, however, applaud Gidget's excellent taste!
**** Mayberry on the Web ****
The iMayberry Community
This TAGSRWC online group is organized and overseen by webmaster Allan “Floyd” Newsome with able assistance from Keith “Col. Harvey” Brown. You can check it out 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 page, 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 episodes you’ve missed.
Allan started the podcasts in 2008. This week's 326th episode is devoted to a special remembrance of James Best.
There’s a lot of info and discussions that you simply won’t find anywhere else, including rare interviews (vintage and new) with cast and crew members of TAGS. If you’ve got sound on your computer or have an iPod or similar device, you can easily tune in live or download these podcasts. And you’ll also find links there to a couple of other outstanding Mayberry-related podcasts.
TAGSRWC’s official page on Facebook now has more than 130,000 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!
**** Post Note ****
Between issues of 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/joinebullet.htm.
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 June, with the next eBullet planned for May.