Ever wonder what the ''T'' in Ernest T. Bass stands for?

The Mayberry hillbilly's name has surprising connections to Hitchcock and the TV movie Brian's Song.

Read to Me

"It's me, it's me, it's Ernest T!"

You can't read that line without hearing Howard Morris' iconic delivery on The Andy Griffith Show, and for years after appearing as the Mayberry hillbilly, Morris continued repeating the line to adoring fans at public appearances.

On The Andy Griffith Show, we never learned what the "T" in Ernest T. Bass stood for, but according to The Tennessean in 1989, writer Everett Greenbaum, who helped create the character, demystified the name origins.

Greenbaum said the "T" was a tribute to one of his favorite characters, Frank T. Whip, who appeared on Greenbaum's first hit show Mister Peepers.

Mister Peepers was an early-'50s sitcom that gave Tony Randall (The Odd Couple) his big breakout role. It was about a group of teachers and students, and the character Frank T. Whip was created to be the "new gym teacher" after the original gym teacher leaves.

The original gym teacher was played by Walter Matthau, but the subsequent gym teacher was played by Jack Warden in his first recurring TV role.

Warden is probably best known to TV audiences for playing another coach — he won an Emmy for his portrayal of George Halas in the moving, dramatic 1970s TV movie Brian's Song. But on Mister Peepers, his character was played purely for humor, just like Ernest T. Bass was.

Frank T. Whip was a pompous high school coach whose sole purpose was to be hilarious, and in this role, Warden delivered to the point that Greenbaum kept a little bit of the character like hidden treasure by planting Frank's middle initial into the name of Ernest T. Bass.

And that wasn't the only personal touch that Greenbaum added when naming Ernest T. Bass.

The "Bass" is a reference to someone whose career is iconic in a different way from the Mayberry hillbilly.

The story goes that Saul Bass — the Oscar-winning genius behind iconic Hollywood title sequences like the eerie animated slashes in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho — gave Greenbaum's brother a job when he needed it. Greenbaum was so grateful, he named a TV character after Bass. Thanks to animated performances by Howard Morris, that character became Ernest T. Bass as we knew and love him.

So next time you watch an episode where wild-eyed Ernest T. Bass pops out and adds mayhem, remember there's a little bit more Psycho in the character than you realized.

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Dwight 25 days ago
So I guess we have to wait for the “What the ‘T’ in Frank T. Whip stands for” article to find the answer that we were expecting from this article. Kind of makes me wonder if the titles are written by the same people that write the articles.
Wiseguy Dwight 24 days ago
If it's not mentioned in the series, then you don't know what it stood for.
Dwight Wiseguy 22 days ago
I was making a sarcastic remark based on the title of this article.
jimmyvici 26 days ago
I always thought it stood for Toolbag.
harlow1313 27 days ago
Ernest Tiberius Bass
Ernest Thaddeus Bass
Ernest Thomasina Bass
Ernest Tennessee Bass
Ernest Tiffany Bass

I'm going with Ernest Tia Bass, believing it has been misheard all these years.
Jimo 27 days ago
T,must stand for titalate,Ernest T. Bass makes you wonder!
ERROL 27 days ago
STILL DON'T KNOW WHAT "T" IS!!!!
Tresix 27 days ago
Coincidental that you used the word “animated” as Mr. Morris did some voices in cartoons. He was Mr. Peebles on “Magilla Gorilla” and Mush Mouse on “Punkin Puss and Mush Mouse”. I think he also did Breezly Bruin, but not sure.
jholton30062 27 days ago
Interesting: I always associate Mr. Peepers with Wally Cox. I never knew Tony Randall was in it.

Howard Morris was a tremendously talented actor, comedian, director, and voice actor. He was hilarious with Sid Caesar.
Wiseguy jholton30062 24 days ago
Marion Lorne (Aunt Clara on Bewitched) was also on Mr. Peepers.
Mitchell 27 days ago
The T, of course, stands for Edgar.
bdettlingmetv 27 days ago
The writer of this article is stretching to make these connections. I'd be willing to bet they never saw the classic BBC series, "Connections". Those were a stretch, too, sometimes, but at least logical.
JosephScarbrough 27 days ago
I read the name "Saul Bass" and almost immediately thought of Sal Bass, the guy Kramer met in the sauna who he thought was actually Salman Rushdie.
Spiro 27 days ago
Howard Morris was pure gold in Your Show of Show's with Sid Caesar and Carl Reiner.

He's in the iconic This Is Your Story sketch.

A parody of This Is Your Life.

Possibly the greatest /funniest sketch in tv history.

A favorite of mine is The Haircut's sketch.

The three of them do an over the top Doo-Wop group parody.

He's done many other shows. The art expert on Dick van Dyke. (Good is no good)

Too funny!
LalaLucy Spiro 27 days ago
Love that sketch and every part he has ever done. A truly great multi-talented guy. It's a favorite game spotting him in different roles, as well as in directing credits. 🙂
Pilaf Spiro 27 days ago
Howard Morris' impression of Elvis Presley had my whole family laughing so hard, we had tears rolling down our cheeks and we couldn't breathe.
pidge 28 days ago
I met Howard Morris years ago. We used the same cleaners in Studio City. Very nice man. I asked him about the AG episodes he directed.
JeffPaul76 28 days ago
Yes, But the article didn't say what the middle initial T. stands for. In other words, what was (or is) Ernest T. Bass's middle name?
Cocoakilly JeffPaul76 27 days ago
Yes, it did. Frank T. Whip. Reread.
DarrylT Cocoakilly 27 days ago
...ahh....no it didn't...it just said that the "T" was from Frank T. Whip....it didn't mention what the "T" stood for, as the title implied....so, maybe YOU should reread.....
Wiseguy JeffPaul76 24 days ago
What the T stood for was not the point of the article.
DarrylT Wiseguy 22 days ago
...that was PRECISELY the point of the article....read the Title, doofus....
Maverick66 28 days ago
Howard Morris's performance certainly made that character memorable. I remember all three of my sons mimicking, "How do you do, Misses Wiley?" One day my oldest came home and said, "Howdy-do to you and you. It's me, it's me, it's Ernest T." And now, all these years later, I know the story behind the name.
Sway 28 days ago
There's a Seinfeld episode in which Kramer thinks a man in the gym is Salmon Rushdie but the man's name is Saul Bass. Much more of a connection there.
The letter "T" makes a connection?...Stretch.
DethBiz 28 days ago
And all these years I thought Ernest T. Bass had a surprising connection to Leonard Blush the Masked Singer.
robyni23 DethBiz 21 days ago
Howard Morris did voice the masked singer Leonard Blush
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