Monday, October 11, 2010

My Birthday with Barney, Thelma Lou and Ernest T.

Me with a 4 ft. store display of  Barney Fife (Don Knotts).  I asked (begged) a store manager to
save it for me and he gave it to me on the spot! 

  In the spring of 2001, my daughter Lucinda gave me a very special birthday gift, tickets to see Don Knotts (Barney Fife), Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou) and Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass).  The trio were appearing at the Country Tonite Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. I have loved The Andy Griffith Show as long as I can remember.

Betty Lynn, was as sweet natured in person as Thelma Lou, the character she portrayed.

We arrived early and there were TAGS impersonators roaming around, some of them quite talented.  "Floyd" was one of my favorites, he had us laughing right away.  We went to a back door hoping we might catch a glimpse of the stars as they arrived.  Parked outside the door was an exact model and copy of Andy's sheriff"s car.

Lucinda with Andy's sheriff's car.
Don Knotts appeared on the stage first, he performed a ball player routine, I don't recall him doing any Barney mannerisms on stage.  The MC of the show was an excellent Barney impersonator.  Betty Lynn answered some questions on stage.  She said she had some contact with Aneta Corsaut (Helen Crump) during the illness of her later years and she had sent Aneta Corsaut a box of candy.                                                                    

Last but not in the way least, Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass) makes a grand entrance from the rear of the theatre, giggling and thowing sponge rocks into the crowd.  He, too, was on stage for a Q and A session.

 Afterwards, there was an autograph session with Betty Lynn and Howard Morris. I regret the poor quality of the photos I took (earlier days of digital photography :-) but Lucinda and I savored every second being in the presence of these great TV legends. Don Knotts was not present afterwards.

Twice I have attended lectures by Dr. Richard Kelly, author of  The Andy Griffith Show.  This book is my favorite that has been written about the series.  Dr. Kelly has been an English professor at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

The character of Ernest T. Bass was primitive and "strongly single minded", Dr. Kelly said the character could not appear in too many episodes lest he completely dominate the show. One is surprised to learn Ernest T. Bass was only in five epidodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

You ain't seen the las' of Ernest T. Bass.

Ernest T. in a more "sane" moment.

Ernest T sticking out his tongue!  Notice the laughing
guy in the foreground.

I love this expression, it cracks me up!

Dr. Kelly also shared with the audience about his visit at the home of Jack Dotson (Howard Sprague).  Jack Dotson was described as being very kind hearted and low key like the character he portrayed.  Jack Dotson took Dr. Kelly in his garage where he kept some of the old scripts and gave him an old script.  Only a few months later, Dr. Kelly was surprised to read in the newspaper of the passing of Jack Dotson.

My autographed copy of Richard Kelly's book.  In it he wrote,
"For Cindy, Warm Mayberry Wishes, Richard Kelly."


Design Wine and Dine said...

I've seen that picture before! The "ghost" of Don Knotts! LOL!

Cool memory!

Clint said...

DW & D---yes indeedy---you HAVE seen that ghost before. Ha! Incidentally, Cindy knows more about the characters on the Andy Griffith Show than anyone on the planet.

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