Andy changed Aunt Bee's name at the very first rehearsal of The Andy Griffith Show

The TV star stopped writers just in time from calling Aunt Bee by the wrong name.

"Oh come on now, Aunt Bee," Sheriff Andy teases the woman who raised him. He's prying about a man in town who has asked Aunt Bee on a date — or so Andy has heard through the grapevine. "Can't expect to keep a flaming romance like that secret for long!"

When you read the words "Aunt Bee," if you're a fan of The Andy Griffith Show, you know it's pronounced like "Ant Bee" and not like "Ont Bee."

For Andy Griffith, it made a big difference how you pronounce the word "Aunt," because, for people who grew up in the South like him, it's always "ant" and never "ont" or "auntie."

That's why the classic TV star put his foot down when the writers of The Andy Griffith Show originally introduced the character in "The New Housekeeper" as "Auntie Bee."

"I told them at first rehearsal, no one's called Auntie anything," Griffith told The Miami Herald-Sun in 1960. "It's Aunt." Pronounced "Ant," of course.

There was no way to contradict their star on this one. Griffith said they changed the name right there on the spot during that first rehearsal.

He said insisting on changes like this was one way he helped the show maintain its authentic Southern roots.

"Things like that you wouldn't know, 'less you lived down there," Andy said.

Today in the United States, most folks seem to agree with Andy's pronunciation of "Ant" for Aunt Bee, with a somewhat recent map from a Dialect Survey about 10 years ago showing that 75% of the country uses that pronunciation.

One blogger posted in 2009 about having "Auntie anxiety" when trying to decide how to pronounce the word. They traced the regional roots of saying "ont" in parts of the U.S. like the Northeast, which maintained closer ties to England, where saying "ont" and "auntie" are common.

Pretty much everyone else in the country left the Brits behind to march ahead with "Ant" instead.

Another creative way that people say the word "Aunt" bends the vowels to sound like "ain't."

Some people surveyed claim they pronounce the word like "ont" when it’s being used alone, but when saying the word with a name or title, like "Aunt Bee," they revert to Andy's pronunciation of "ant."

How do you say the word Aunt in your family? Would you have been OK with Sheriff Andy having an "Auntie Bee" instead of "Aunt Bee"?

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plcupp 2 months ago
Growing up in East Tennessee, about 240 miles from Mount Airy, it is ANT.
Mob39 2 months ago
Every aunt I’ve ever had was called ant. Loved the aunt bee character....Aaaandy!
L 2 months ago
My family originally is from the Berkshires (MA). Everyone pronounces it like "ant". Only snippy upper class Bostonians who has "old money" pronounces it like "ont".
hermanstein2015 4 months ago
I say Ant or Ain't depending on how I'm feeling. Born and raised in TN and some days I feel more country than other days lol.
Unvmyvdub 4 months ago
I never give much thought as to how others pronounce words, to each their own. It's great to escape to a town like Mayberry. I wish Me TV would air the later color episodes too.
jerrysays 4 months ago
Auntie Bee , would have been almost as good , maybe they should have used both Aunt Bee , and Auntie Bee interchange , where Andy Griffith was born and lived , when he was not in Hollywood making movies , and TV shows , people uses both those terms .
Daddysbaby 4 months ago
I have always pronounced it as "Ont" . I hate incorrect grammar .
Daddysbaby 4 months ago
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Daddysbaby 4 months ago
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SharonWestey 4 months ago
It "ain't" Aunt Bee. It's Aunt Bea. Her name was Beatrice.
Moody SharonWestey 4 months ago
In the series it was spelled "Bee".
SharonWestey 4 months ago
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harlow1313 4 months ago
I support proper pronunciation and proper grammar. It is no more pretentious than table manners or courtesy.
WilliamRussell 4 months ago
They got it all wrong. Andy says "Ain't Bee."
I think you are right! Now that you mention it, I can't remember him pronouncing it any other way.
Todd WilliamRussell 4 months ago
Yes I always thought he said Ain't most of the time anyway
Deleted 4 months ago
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Pacificsun 4 months ago
No, it sounds formal and proper (for some people). Just not our habit around here.
F5Twitster 4 months ago
"'I told them at first rehearsal, no one's called Auntie anything,' Griffith told The Miami Herald-Sun in 1960. "It's Aunt." Pronounced "Ant," of course."

Are you trying to tell us that Andy never bothered to read the script, either final or earlier drafts, before everyone sat down for the first rehearsal? I find that IMPOSSIBLE to believe, making everything else in the article impossible to believe, or nearly so.

As for

"They traced the regional roots of saying 'ont' in parts of the U.S. like the Northeast, which maintained closer ties to England, where saying 'ont' and "auntie" are common."

ANY competent linguist will tell you that Southern U.S. dialects are actually closer to British English, especially when traced back to the 17th and 18th century when North America was first colonized, than the Middle Atlantic accent spoken by people in the Northeast.

More rubbish.
MikefromJersey F5Twitster 4 months ago
You are spot on, F5. I recall a few years ago some British linguists went to the NC outback
as the people in the mountain regions still used some English forms that had died out in
the UK 300 years ago. To be fair, I think the MeTV people probably read some studio PR
from the time and accepted it as face value. I have gotten the impression they assign a
lot of their greenest and youngest people to write many of these stories, so they would
not have used the same logic chops such as what you displayed. Good job, F5Twitser!
Pacificsun F5Twitster 4 months ago
Okay well, reading a script and doing a Table Read are two different things. Everyone reads the script beforehand. But the Table Read is the first time the actors verbally exchange the dialogue. Exactly because what a writer puts on paper, doesn’t always sound naturally, as spoken. The actors also want to get a feel for how their character needs to react, according to nuance of how something is expressed (to them). And to test the timing of jokes. A script alone won’t tell you that.

The entire point of the article is to show the difference between how (in this case, one particular word) has a different pronunciation. That’s why English as a Second Language can be difficult to learn. Also because the same spelling of a word means different things. (Lead). Whether Ant it's just a Southern thing, am not sure. We’ve always said Ant. So it’s also a familiar thing. What kids hear they pass along. And nobody’s going to be changing it up at dinner table. Certainly between Ant and Ont. The article is also specific to TAGs.

It was a good and unique article.
steph3whitley 4 months ago
Sherriff Taylor always clearly pronounced it "ain't" Bee, NOT "ant." Bee. Any one who watched the show would know that. Barney, however, pronounced it "ant" Bee.
That is exactly what I thought…every once in a while Andy said “ant” but the majority of the time it was “ain’t “
PilotTom 4 months ago
We can't watch Andy or Green Acres because our local MeTv station channel 30.2 in Jacksonville Florida will not air either of these great shows nor will they reply to emails as to why not ! Sad , very sad !
Pacificsun PilotTom 4 months ago
Write to (or contact) the FCC. They're charge of local station's license for renewal. Whether your particular issue has relative merit is one thing. But that they refuse to respond to your inquiry, is a matter of "public service" they are ignoring. And network television broadcasting (believe it or not) is in the category of "Public Service." All those negative letters/opinions/complaints used to be kept in file, and reviewed during certain periods.
WilliamRussell PilotTom 4 months ago
If ANY other stations in your area air these programs, they may be under an exclusivity agreement. We had Andy on a local channel a while back and ME fed us Mayberry RFD at 8pm instead from a secondary satellite channel.
PilotTom WilliamRussell 4 months ago
Thanks for the reply . No Andy on any of our local channels or Green Acres !
KirwoodDerby 4 months ago
I’m from the northeast and the first time I had ever used “Ont” was when Lamont Sanford referred to Aunt Esther. I honestly never had heard that before. Today it seems a little more common but it would still sound wierd here in eastern PA.
I just love American dialects and traditions, the Andy Griffith show and the Waltons show us how charming some of the southern ways of life can be.
"Ont" is quite common among African Americans here in Jersey. A legacy of the Great
Migration from the south.
KirwoodDerby 4 months ago
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Suada53 4 months ago
Aunt is pronounce ahnt. If people pronounce it as ant, then they should change the spelling to ant, otherwise they are pronouncing it incorrectly.
hermanstein2015 Suada53 4 months ago
Words are pronounced differently depending on where they are from so technically no one is saying it incorrectly.
Suada53 4 months ago
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Dbax 4 months ago
He name is not Bee. It’s Bea, short for Beatrice.
MaryMitch Dbax 4 months ago
I used to think so too, but it IS "Bee", even though I believe it is short for Beatrice.
Pacificsun MaryMitch 4 months ago
Yes, there's another MeTV story built right around how Aunt Bee (not Bea) came to be (LOL!). It's somewhere in the archives.
Dbax 4 months ago
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ELEANOR 4 months ago
OK, we get a headline of "Andy changed Aunt Bee's name ..." and we automatically think that it was changed from another name to Bee. Not so. It was the Aunt-thing. And yes in Hollywood, the name is the main thing, so it is important to nail down Aunt (ant) and not Aunt (ont) or Auntie. But the headline of the article seemed to indicate that at first, there was another name other than Bee.
LoveMETV22 ELEANOR 4 months ago
Yes, They strayed away from the premise of the story with the added fluff on pronunciations and such. The main point was Andy wanted her character called Aunt not Auntie and how his efforts preserved the authenticity of the series.
Pacificsun ELEANOR 4 months ago
[ They got'cha to read it! ]
oobusdoobus 4 months ago
born in charlotte, lived in NC and SC all my life. we always said "ain't" for aunt but
'ant" is just as common. only thing that was never common was "ont", that was in Dickins novels
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