Do you recognize the Andy Griffith Show character modeling these fashionable 1940s jackets?

Before he became Mayberry's most mysterious lineman, Karl Swenson had one of the prettiest faces in radio.

Read to Me

In the third season premiere episode of The Andy Griffith Show, Opie describes a man he meets in the Mayberry woods. Andy thinks the fellow sounds like an imaginary friend.

"Mr. McBeeVee," as Opie calls him, makes a jingle when he walks across the tops of the trees, has a dozen extra hands attached to his belt and shoots smoke out of his ears.

For a while, Andy assumes that Mr. McBeeVee is a figment of Opie's imagination like Blackie, the imaginary horse Opie invents earlier in the episode. Later, Andy actually meets Mr. McBeeVee, and sees for himself that even imaginative Opie couldn’t make up a character like that.

For the part of Mr. McBeeVee, The Andy Griffith Show cast Karl Swenson. Classic TV fans likely recognize him best as Lars Hanson, the town elder on Little House on the Prairie.

Swenson appeared as Hanson more than a decade after he appeared in Mayberry. But before he came to Mayberry, Swenson wasn't sporting a silver hard hat atop his head, but rather the latest fashions, rising up as one of radio's most popular stars — and even being invited to model because he also happened to have a pretty face.

In a 1946 edition of The Waterbury Record, Swenson models four stylish jackets in advertisements, with captions that proved he was an early influencer.

"Karl Swenson, who plays the title role in NBC's Lorenzo Jones, wears a white all wool flannel shirt for those in-between hours in a man's life,” one caption read.

"Karl Swenson, who plays the title role on NBC's Lorenzo Jones, likes the ease of motion the full cut sleeves and snug knitted waistband gives him," says another caption, under a garment called "Classic Jacket."

He was even so cool that McGregor Sportswear chose him to debut a new type of garment the company called a "shacket" because "it can be worn either as a jacket … or buttoned and tucked in the trousers as a shirt."

So maybe the "shacket" never took off… but at least Swenson's career did.

Swenson was born in Brooklyn and was studying to become a doctor when he got bit by the radio bug. He got cast as "Lorenzo Jones," a mechanic who liked to tinker and invent things in his garage. The story goes that Swenson was a lot like Lorenzo, marrying and moving his family to Virginia, where he kept a workshop in his basement where he liked to come up with new household gadgets to save his wife time around the home.

So you should know that Mr. McBeeVee, with his "12 extra hands" (according to Opie), was very handy, indeed!

Through his career, he became even more prolific as a TV actor, just as he had been on radio, easily moving to the small screen through Westerns like Bonanza and, of course, The Andy Griffith Show.

In the 1970s, he joined the cast of Little House on the Prairie. He passed away in 1978 shortly after he filmed the death scene for his Little House character — within the same month. He left behind his wife who agreed to wed and took his hand way back when he was just a pretty face on the radio, modeling daring new fashions like the "shacket."

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Big3Fan 26 days ago
One of the truly great character actors. He was so good when doing accents of various ethnic groups. In maybe his most demanding role, he played Eddie's dad in the first season of LItB.
Adanor 26 days ago
Actors who are mechanically inclined in real life naturally appear authentic in similar roles. They just give off this certain aura; comfortable in handling tools; the ability to climb up poles, and endure smoke, grease and grime. in "Last of the Summer Wine," (LOTSW) a British comedy, Gordon Wharmby (Wesley) was, in real life, a part-time painter and carpenter. In LOTSW, he played a hapless amateur mechanic and with his background, he brought authenticity to the role.
CouchPotato19 Adanor 25 days ago
Now THERE'S a show you don't hear anyone in this forum ever mentioning! Love British comedies!!
kimmer 27 days ago
I liked the characters he played...always a strong character!
MrsPhilHarris 27 days ago
I never knew he was Lars on LHOTP. 🤔
Moverfan 27 days ago
I'm reading the article thinking I never saw those clothing ads anywhere...and then I noticed they ran in 1946. I was born in 1962 and I'm going to go suck my thumb now.
retro6 27 days ago
I see Karl Swenson on a lot of the westerns as well - like Laramie, Bonanza, The Virginian- I feel like I see him at least once a week in shows. I grew up watching him as Lars on Little House on the Prairie and remember his character dying on the show and he died in real life around the same time. never knew he had a whole acting career before Little House until recent years! Great actor.
JHP 27 days ago
he was good on Perry Mason too - I appreciate his acting skills - still would to know how he and john dehner did the smoke trick - one out the ear and one from the hand
harlow1313 JHP 27 days ago
I may be mistaken, but I believe the end of a hose can be seen in Dehner's hand.
JHP harlow1313 26 days ago
will have to look real close - maybe Mr Mc did the same thing:)

Id like to know if Mr Indian Elixir actually spoke true Native American in that ep
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