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  #1  
Old 09-17-2012, 12:00 AM
Hottius Maximus Hottius Maximus is offline
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Frances Bavier aka "Aunt Bea"

Watching the posts about "The Andy Griffith Show" reminds me of actress Frances Bavier who was most famous for playing the lovable matron Aunt Bea. However my understanding is that she was not very pleasant to work with or be around; in fact I understand that she could be hyper sensitive and difficult on the set, and she supposedly did not personally care for Andy Griffith himself. Does anybody have the details on this? One story I hear is that she was a stage actress prior to working on this show, and the stress and daily changes and inconsistencies of working on a television show was too much for somebody who was accustomed to rehearsing a stage play the same way over and over again consistently.

Any ideas?
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  #2  
Old 09-17-2012, 01:04 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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Howard Morris directed several of the Griffith shows. I've heard him tell the story of asking Frances Bavier to move on the set. He apparently said it a bit harshly (as directors often do) and she blew up at him.

Andy also mentioned that Frances Bavier wouldn't accept visitors after she retired. He tried several times to stop by and was told no.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:21 AM
Shakes Shakes is offline
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Aw man, I shouldn't have clicked on this thread.
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Old 09-17-2012, 02:43 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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The stories are true. She did, however, send Andy Griffith a letter apologizing for her behavior after the show ended.

I guess every show has one "difficult" cast member. For MASH, it was Gary Burghoff; for Welcome Back Kotter, it was Ron Palillo. And for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, word is... It was Sarah Michelle Gellar!
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Old 09-17-2012, 03:30 AM
aceplace57 aceplace57 is offline
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It shows just how good an actress Frances Bavier was. Aunt Bea was such a sweet and kind character. There wasn't any indication that the actress wasn't the same way.

Last edited by aceplace57; 09-17-2012 at 03:30 AM..
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  #6  
Old 09-17-2012, 08:01 AM
CalMeacham CalMeacham is offline
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Bavier was also one of the Boarding House guests in the original Day the Earth Stood Still. I always wondered why Aunt Bea was living in Washington, so close to an alien and not knowing it.


That's the only other thing I recall seeing her in (aside from the Andy Griffith spinoffs, like Gomer Pyle), but the iMDB lists many others

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062592/

Last edited by CalMeacham; 09-17-2012 at 08:03 AM..
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  #7  
Old 09-17-2012, 10:22 AM
randwill randwill is offline
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Reading her page at the IMBD, I'm reminded that she was born in New York City but after TAGS she retired to a small town in North Carolina, Siler City.
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  #8  
Old 09-17-2012, 10:22 AM
Shoeless Shoeless is offline
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Not to hijack or anything, but is it Aunt Bea or Aunt Bee? It seems I've seen both spellings used at times and am never sure which one is correct.
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Old 09-17-2012, 10:23 AM
twickster twickster is offline
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Aunt Bee.
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  #10  
Old 09-17-2012, 11:03 AM
Charlie Wayne Charlie Wayne is offline
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Yes, I've heard Andy talk about her and he was always very charitible towards her. But, from what I understood, she got what she deserved. A very short time after the show ended, she was living in a nursing home and she was all alone. I don't think it was so much that she refused visitors. It was more that no one wanted to come and see her and rather than let anyone find that out, she just refused to see anyone who did come to see her to make it look like it was her choice and not that almost no one cared about her. But, I'm guessing almost no one cared about her because she was such a mean and nasty woman.


I don't know about her being a good actor.

I used to hate listening to her voice. She had one vocal mannerism that she repeated over and over and I just hated it. I forget exactly what it was. It's been such a long time. I think it might have been the way she said, "Mmmm Hmmm" to indicate she agreed with something. But she did it so often, I just can't believe it was in the script.

I was so disappointed when Don Knotts left because they gave her the starring role in several episodes after that. (like when she was a chef on TV and when she worked in a Printer's Shop where the owners were counterfeiting money).

All in all, I strongly disliked her character. The way she talked grated on my every nerve and I just wish they would have fired her when Don Knotts left and brought in some reasonable actors.

Instead we got Warren and Howard Sprague and Goober. IMO, they were all terrible. I know many people love the guy who played Goober. But I sure didn't. I thought the was a drip and a terrible actor. He ruined many episodes for me. But, the truth be told, after Don Knotts left the show, I don't think there was one good episode. We got all this really stupid shlock - like Opie and the horse that wouldn't eat. What the Hell was that? Yuck!

They were all pretty much equally as bad as that.

Last edited by Charlie Wayne; 09-17-2012 at 11:07 AM..
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Old 09-17-2012, 11:13 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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And of course Aunt Bee sounded like she was from Connecticut, not North Carolina.
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  #12  
Old 09-17-2012, 12:27 PM
bup bup is offline
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She couldn't have hated it too much; she stayed on the show until the very end, after it became Mayberry RFD. I don't think there was anybody else from the first season left at that point.

And Andy must have respected her acting chops - she played a different character on the episode of The Danny Thomas Show Make Room For Daddy that The Andy Griffith Show spun off from, and Andy hired her for his show.

Some people are just temperamental. But she was a good actress and played loving Aunt Bee convincingly.

Last edited by bup; 09-17-2012 at 12:28 PM..
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  #13  
Old 09-17-2012, 12:32 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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She was a seasoned movie and stage actress. In the early days of television that wasn't always a good match with the new paradigm. Her solitary nature makes her story consist more of other's gossip than her own voice. She was a good character on the show, the focus of several of the stories, and I'm glad she was there.
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  #14  
Old 09-17-2012, 07:17 PM
Hottius Maximus Hottius Maximus is offline
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Originally Posted by aceplace57 View Post
It shows just how good an actress Frances Bavier was. Aunt Bea was such a sweet and kind character. There wasn't any indication that the actress wasn't the same way.
Actually I have to agree with you and my wife who made a similar comment. If she really was that difficult to be around, she sure played Aunt Bea as a lovable and caring individual.
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  #15  
Old 09-17-2012, 07:20 PM
Hottius Maximus Hottius Maximus is offline
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Originally Posted by Krokodil View Post
The stories are true. She did, however, send Andy Griffith a letter apologizing for her behavior after the show ended.

I guess every show has one "difficult" cast member. For MASH, it was Gary Burghoff; for Welcome Back Kotter, it was Ron Palillo. And for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, word is... It was Sarah Michelle Gellar!
Re: Gary Burghoff. As I recall the phrase on the set of MASH was, "Everybody loved Radar, but NOBODY liked Gary Burghoff."

Re: Ron Palillo. I never heard that about him; Ditto for Sarah Michelle Gellar; any details?

Re: other pains in the rear on TV shows. Supposedly Tina Louise was very difficult on the set of "Gilligan's Island" and of course we've all heard the stories of Robert Reed's behavior when "The Brady Bunch" was filming.
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  #16  
Old 09-17-2012, 07:58 PM
PapSett PapSett is offline
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Actually I heard just the opposite about Ron Palillo. I have never seen a single ill word about him. By all accounts, he was just a plain nice guy.
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  #17  
Old 09-17-2012, 08:24 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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The problem on Kotter was the producer James Komack. He had a reputation for being being difficult to work with. The early end of The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and Welcome Back Kotter were both due to their stars leaving, and blamed on Komack.
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  #18  
Old 09-17-2012, 08:46 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Well apparently Gabe Kaplan was also not well liked.
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  #19  
Old 09-17-2012, 10:16 PM
urban1a urban1a is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Bavier was also one of the Boarding House guests in the original Day the Earth Stood Still. I always wondered why Aunt Bea was living in Washington, so close to an alien and not knowing it.


That's the only other thing I recall seeing her in (aside from the Andy Griffith spinoffs, like Gomer Pyle), but the iMDB lists many others

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0062592/
I can recall on other appearance, also in a science fiction movie (possibly War of the Worlds). The scene was an old time general store crowded with numerous people who came down to hear the radio and there was Frances, front and center, purse on lap. There was no dialog (except there was a voice on the radio). Maybe someone else remembers this scene and can more correctly identify the movie.

Bob
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  #20  
Old 09-17-2012, 11:37 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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FB was in at least one episode of the old "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" as the uptight neighbor who scolds hot Vera Miles for sunbathing in an, uhm, revealing bathing suit.*

*SPOILER: Vera is raped after "showing off her body" and becomes unbalanced. Then her husband kills the guy she wrongly identifies as the rapist.

Last edited by terentii; 09-17-2012 at 11:40 PM..
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  #21  
Old 09-17-2012, 11:56 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Originally Posted by Hottius Maximus View Post
...Re: other pains in the rear on TV shows. Supposedly Tina Louise was very difficult on the set of "Gilligan's Island" and of course we've all heard the stories of Robert Reed's behavior when "The Brady Bunch" was filming.
Lucille Ball had a reputation as a bitch offscreen and could be very difficult to work with. She'd rehearse everything to death and often made the director shoot take after take after take until she felt a stunt went right.
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  #22  
Old 09-18-2012, 12:01 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Well the winner in the difficult TV series actor would be Valerie Harper. She got kicked off her own show.
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  #23  
Old 09-18-2012, 09:31 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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Originally Posted by Hottius Maximus View Post
Re: Gary Burghoff. As I recall the phrase on the set of MASH was, "Everybody loved Radar, but NOBODY liked Gary Burghoff."

Re: Ron Palillo. I never heard that about him; Ditto for Sarah Michelle Gellar; any details?

Re: other pains in the rear on TV shows. Supposedly Tina Louise was very difficult on the set of "Gilligan's Island" and of course we've all heard the stories of Robert Reed's behavior when "The Brady Bunch" was filming.
Re: Ron Palillo, I'm going by Mark Evanier's blog entry from the day Palillo died. Evanier was one of Kotter's writers:
Quote:
Ron played Arnold Horshack, the goofiest of Mr. Kotter's "Sweathogs" and viewers loved him. The writers on the show did not as Ron was often abrasive and he had (we thought) a tendency to look at every line and ask the question, "How can I take the maximum amount of time and get the maximum amount of attention for saying this?" The shows always ran long so we were always looking for cuts and Ron did not help. If we sliced a long speech of his in half, he would somehow manage to make the remaining half take even longer than the whole. In his defense, you have to remember this: The audiences at least the ones who came to our tapings laughed whenever he opened his mouth. They practically gave him a standing o' when he opened it to shout, "Oooh! Oooh!"

He was certainly a major factor in that show's popularity but I did not get along well with the guy...then. Later though, our paths crossed when I was writing for Hanna-Barbera and he was in to do occasional voice work. We had one nice conversation when he apologized for things he'd said and done. I told him I understood but I'm not altogether certain I really did. And then our paths never crossed again.

He did not get a lot of work as an actor, post-Kotter. I can't explain why that was since he was really good in front of a camera. I heard he was on a soap opera for a time...that he had some plastic surgery...that he was doing some teaching and some painting...and this morning, that he'd left us. I did not like the guy I worked with on Welcome Back, Kotter but I have nothing but warm thoughts about the Ron Palillo in the Hanna-Barbera waiting room. I'd like to think that was the real person.
As for SMG, there were just lots of reports of diva behavior. When one cast member had a mother in the hospital and other people were trying to be of comfort, Gellar said something like "Can we hurry this up? I have a hair appointment." Granted, everyone on that show had a financial stake in Buffy looking like a million bucks, but... No cites, as this was over a decade ago in print media.
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  #24  
Old 09-18-2012, 09:56 AM
notfrommensa notfrommensa is offline
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IIRC, There were not many tears shed when Shelley Long left Cheers.

I liked the character of Aunt Bee. The episode about her "kerosene cucumbers" was one of my favorites.
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  #25  
Old 09-18-2012, 09:59 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Re: Ron Palillo, I'm going by Mark Evanier's blog entry from the day Palillo died. Evanier was one of Kotter's writers:
I don't think writer's complaints are fair. Those guys hate anyone who doesn't blow them. If the director, producer, and fellow cast members don't have a problem, the actor is just fine.
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Old 09-18-2012, 12:51 PM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by Hottius Maximus View Post
Re: Gary Burghoff. As I recall the phrase on the set of MASH was, "Everybody loved Radar, but NOBODY liked Gary Burghoff."

Re: Ron Palillo. I never heard that about him; Ditto for Sarah Michelle Gellar; any details?

Re: other pains in the rear on TV shows. Supposedly Tina Louise was very difficult on the set of "Gilligan's Island" and of course we've all heard the stories of Robert Reed's behavior when "The Brady Bunch" was filming.
When I taught college, I had the pleasure of having both the daughter of Gary Burghoff and his ex wife enrolled in my classes.

The daughter was definitely the daughter of Gary....looked just liked him but in a very cute way.

However, never mention it to her. His daughter HATED him and I don't mean in a strongly dislike way. I mean HATE. Guess he was a terrible father.

Last edited by BlinkingDuck; 09-18-2012 at 12:52 PM..
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  #27  
Old 09-18-2012, 02:53 PM
Kimballkid Kimballkid is offline
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Originally Posted by Hottius Maximus View Post
Re: other pains in the rear on TV shows. Supposedly Tina Louise was very difficult on the set of "Gilligan's Island" and of course we've all heard the stories of Robert Reed's behavior when "The Brady Bunch" was filming.
Now, I would say just the opposite as I'd heard about Tina Louise but never heard anything about Robert Reed.

Last edited by Kimballkid; 09-18-2012 at 02:54 PM..
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  #28  
Old 09-18-2012, 03:01 PM
terentii terentii is offline
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Now, I would say just the opposite as I'd heard about Tina Louise but never heard anything about Robert Reed.
There's an interview with Sherwood Schwartz (creator of both "Gilligan's Island" and "Brady Bunch") on YouTube. He talks quite a bit about Reed and what a pain in the ass he was to work with. As I recall, Reed was written out of the series' finale, and was quite surprised when they wanted him back for the revival.

He talks about Tina too, but most of the things I've heard about her come from Bob Denver's memoirs.
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  #29  
Old 09-18-2012, 03:07 PM
Saint Cad Saint Cad is online now
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Some interesting information about Frances Bavier here. Apparently she was a Crazy Old Cat Lady (tm).
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Old 09-18-2012, 03:24 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Gary Burghoff was on Match Game for several weeks around the time M*A*S*H was getting big, and those episodes are almost unwatchable. By the time Charles returns from his absence, I am ready to reach back through time and stab Burghoff to death with his Marks-a-Lot.
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  #31  
Old 09-18-2012, 04:28 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Some interesting information about Frances Bavier here. Apparently she was a Crazy Old Cat Lady (tm).
Some additional info I found:

She had and older brother (b. @1898) and one sister (b. @1893). Her mom died in 1920, and her father shortly thereafter. This death notice is almost certainly her dad.

Her sister apparently died in 1959, a spinster.

Her brother, if I have the right person, did marry and had one daughter, who--if she's still living--would be in her 70s.

I'll leave it to others to check on that to track her down to see whether she has any personal recollections of her Aunt Frances.
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  #32  
Old 09-18-2012, 05:04 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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I dont know about FB, but try to find someone in Wlmington, NC who has the first nice thing to say about Andy Griffith.
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  #33  
Old 09-18-2012, 06:21 PM
hermann hermann is offline
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Aunt Bee.
Please explain. Her name was Beatrice, so wouldn't it be Aunt Bea?
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  #34  
Old 09-18-2012, 06:44 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Please explain. Her name was Beatrice, so wouldn't it be Aunt Bea?
It would have been if that had been the way they spelled it in the script, but they didn't.
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Old 09-18-2012, 08:12 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Please explain. Her name was Beatrice, so wouldn't it be Aunt Bea?
FAQ #1
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  #36  
Old 09-18-2012, 08:20 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Actually I heard just the opposite about Ron Palillo. I have never seen a single ill word about him. By all accounts, he was just a plain nice guy.
Quite a few years ago I dealt with his sister on a professional basis. She was a total wackjob. I have not heard about her in years. She must have moved out of town.
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  #37  
Old 09-18-2012, 11:42 PM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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I don't think writer's complaints are fair. Those guys hate anyone who doesn't blow them. If the director, producer, and fellow cast members don't have a problem, the actor is just fine.
That's a fair assessment in principle, but (A) Evanier doesn't have a reputation for slamming everyone he works with; look at a few weeks' worth of his website and you'll see what I mean. And (B) for such a high-profile character actor, Palillo didn't get much work subsequent to Kotter. If the director, producer, and fellow cast members don't have a problem, this would be inexplicable.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:05 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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He talks quite a bit about Reed and what a pain in the ass he was to work with.
However I seem to recall he got along tolerably well with his co-workers. Apparently one of the biggest complaints by the producers was that Reed was effective in getting the kids on his side during disputes. It was management he fought with, not everyone else.
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Old 09-19-2012, 07:47 AM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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And (B) for such a high-profile character actor, Palillo didn't get much work subsequent to Kotter. If the director, producer, and fellow cast members don't have a problem, this would be inexplicable.
I can think of about a dozen other people who were well thought of as sitcom character actors, but who got very little other work due to being typecast. Michael Richards and Wayne Knight from Seinfeld are examples.

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  #40  
Old 09-19-2012, 12:14 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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I can think of about a dozen other people who were well thought of as sitcom character actors, but who got very little other work due to being typecast. Michael Richards and Wayne Knight from Seinfeld are examples.
Wayne Knight has his own sitcom right now.
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Old 09-19-2012, 12:26 PM
Mississippienne Mississippienne is offline
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Wayne Knight has his own sitcom right now.
He also had a long-term supporting role on Third Rock From the Sun.

Michael Richards worked in TV for years and years, had his own sitcom for about an hour after Sienfeld ended, went back into stand-up, and then got himself into a scandal when he blew up at an audience member and screamed some slur words.
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Old 09-19-2012, 01:42 PM
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Regarding Robert Reed, most of what I've heard about him comes from Barry Williams's book Growing Up Brady (which is a great read, by the way), so admittedly it's only a single point of view. But, from what I understand:

Reed considered himself a serious actor who had previously done mostly dramatic roles, and felt that a sitcom was beneath him. He took the job on the Brady Bunch pilot for the paycheck, believing there was no way the show would be picked up. When it was, he couldn't get out of his contract, and so he never really wanted to be there in the first place.

Sherwood Schwartz was making what he considered to be simply fun family entertainment, but Reed felt there should have been more depth, and the two constantly butted heads over the scripts. Schwartz hated to have his authority questioned, and allegedly once said that if the show had gotten another season, Mike Brady would have been killed in a plane crash over the summer. I tend to believe him.

On the other hand, the rest of the actors apparenly loved him. He reportedly became a father figure to the kids, treated them wonderfully and always looked out for their interests. My take is that he was a decent guy who was just frustrated by being on a show he didn't like much, and Schwartz was the outlet for that frustration.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:06 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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He also had a long-term supporting role on Third Rock From the Sun.

Michael Richards worked in TV for years and years, had his own sitcom for about an hour after Sienfeld ended, went back into stand-up, and then got himself into a scandal when he blew up at an audience member and screamed some slur words.
I know wiki says he started as a stand up but I don't remember it that way. I remember him coming up through the ranks of sketch and improv which are different animals altogether. I listened to Jim Norton and a few other comics talking about the Richards incident. They all seemed to agree that he was ill-equipped to deal will hecklers or other types of disruptive crowds. They all thought that if he had paid his dues in clubs he would have known how to handle the situation. Instead he panicked.
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Old 09-19-2012, 03:14 PM
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Anyway, the larger point that there are tons of sitcom actors who are regulars never seem to get much work afterward holds. That doesn't mean they had prima donna reputations.

The other sweathogs (besides John Travolta) from Welcome Back, Carter.
Larry Linville.
Loretta Swit.
Russell Johnson.
Dawn Wells.
Herb Tarlek, Bailey Quarters (sigh), and Andy Travis from WKRP.
Norm from Cheers.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:01 PM
Loach Loach is offline
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Anyway, the larger point that there are tons of sitcom actors who are regulars never seem to get much work afterward holds. That doesn't mean they had prima donna reputations.

The other sweathogs (besides John Travolta) from Welcome Back, Carter.
Larry Linville.
Loretta Swit.
Russell Johnson.
Dawn Wells.
Herb Tarlek, Bailey Quarters (sigh), and Andy Travis from WKRP.
Norm from Cheers.
Someone who has multiple successful TV shows is a rare thing. Thats why its generally foolish to leave early just to show up on the dinner theater circuit.
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Old 09-19-2012, 04:22 PM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is offline
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Someone who has multiple successful TV shows is a rare thing. Thats why its generally foolish to leave early just to show up on the dinner theater circuit.
As someone once said on this board (paraphrasing), "A role on a successful TV series is usually the peak of a career, not the beginning of one."
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:01 PM
Labrador Deceiver Labrador Deceiver is offline
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Wayne Knight has his own sitcom right now.
Only 20 years later!
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  #48  
Old 09-19-2012, 05:10 PM
Sauron Sauron is offline
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Anyway, the larger point that there are tons of sitcom actors who are regulars never seem to get much work afterward holds. That doesn't mean they had prima donna reputations. ...

Larry Linville.
For what it's worth, Linville WAS something of a prima donna - at least, in my opinion. I was able to attend one of those "An Evening With" presentations with Linville many years ago, long after his M*A*S*H tenure ended. I enjoyed the M*A*S*H stories he told, but he came across as an insufferable jerk with a highly inflated opinion of himself and his work.

I know his castmates on M*A*S*H usually described him as kind and easygoing, and maybe he was at that time or around other professionals/actors. When talking with the plebes, though, he gave the distinct impression everyone else was beneath him.
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Last edited by Sauron; 09-19-2012 at 05:10 PM..
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  #49  
Old 09-19-2012, 05:16 PM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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Originally Posted by Sauron View Post
For what it's worth, Linville WAS something of a prima donna - at least, in my opinion. I was able to attend one of those "An Evening With" presentations with Linville many years ago, long after his M*A*S*H tenure ended. I enjoyed the M*A*S*H stories he told, but he came across as an insufferable jerk with a highly inflated opinion of himself and his work.

I know his castmates on M*A*S*H usually described him as kind and easygoing, and maybe he was at that time or around other professionals/actors. When talking with the plebes, though, he gave the distinct impression everyone else was beneath him.
Maybe he was in character.
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Old 09-19-2012, 05:41 PM
voltaire voltaire is offline
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Originally Posted by Loach View Post
Quite a few years ago I dealt with his sister on a professional basis. She was a total wackjob. I have not heard about her in years. She must have moved out of town.
And that "professional basis" was as law enforcement, right?

Come on, dish!
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