Joanna Moore lost her hearing before becoming Andy's girlfriend on The Andy Griffith Show

The actress found a cure for her deafness just as she turned up in Mayberry.

On the totem of Andy Taylor's girlfriends, Peggy McMillan often goes overlooked. The sheriff ended up marrying Helen Crump, Opie's teacher, so she obviously is best remembered. Ellie Walker first won Andy's heart, as the two dated in the first season of The Andy Griffith Show. Peggy, a blonde with a soft Southern accent, saw her relationship with Andy last just four episodes — but they were four memorable episodes.

Introduced in "Andy's Rich Girlfriend," Peggy comes from a wealthy family, as evidenced by the gorgeous new Ford Thunderbird sitting outside her cozy house. It was a gift from daddy. A couple months later, Peggy made her final appearance in "Opie's Rival." Opie was just a little too jealous of all the time pa was spending with the pretty nurse.

Joanna Moore fondly recalled her time portraying Peggy McMillan. 

"I liked the Griffith show better than anything else I’ve ever done," she told the Akron Beacon Journal in a late 1962 interview. "Everyone on the program is so nice. The show is well organized and there is no rush. The people discuss their problems openly and the difficulties just seem to disappear. I was shocked by the honesty on that show, but it was a refreshing kind of honesty."

Perhaps best known as the wife of Ryan O'Neal, whom she married in 1963, Moore grew up in Georgia, which explained her natural drawl that fit right in on The Andy Griffith Show. But the actress went through quite an ordeal before her time in Mayberry. In a guest role on Route 66, a gash on her leg gave Moore a six-inch scar, as she got caught on a submerged rock while filming a scene in the Pacific Ocean.

But that was hardly as harrowing as her hearing loss. She had recently been deaf.

Moore continued to work throughout the 1961-62 television season despite her hearing loss. "She couldn't hear a phone ring and a radio turned up full blast sounded like a distant, blurred noise," wrote the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram in July 1962. Moore would have a director tap her on the shoulder when a scene began and read lips to get through her dialogue. 

“It was hereditary deafness and I didn’t realize what was happening until I lost my hearing completely," she explained. The condition is known as otosclerosis, a bone growth in the middle ear. 

A surgery corrected her hearing loss in the summer of '62. After the procedure, Moore left the hospital into a busy street. A passing truck honked at her. "I was thrilled," she recalled.

With her full senses returned, Moore was ready to court Andy Taylor.

The following year, Moore turned up on Perry Mason as Grace Olney in "The Case of the Reluctant Model." She went on to land roles in everything from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. to My Three Sons. In 1997, Moore passed away from lung cancer, with her daughter, Tatum O'Neal, at her side.

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Jan 24 days ago
One thing I could never understand, is why Opie never asked about his mom, and Andy never talked about her. That was so completely unnatural. A small boy like Opie would have missed her. I always thought that Peggy and Andy had the best chemistry, I could never understand why Andy would want a jealous, nasty person like Helen Crump. He was always afraid women were trying to catch him and marry him even though he had already been married once.
Michele 15 months ago
Joanne Moore was just a breath of fresh air. I'm always adding a flower to her page on Tatum reminds me of her so much. Joanne, regardless of what anyone says, was a beautiful southern belle. I'm right here in SC and our accents are so similar. 😊
buddyleeroe Michele 5 months ago
Hello Michele, I would love to meet you... You are lovely.. If you would like to meet me reply here and I will give you my cell. My email is
JJKale Michele 3 months ago
It's Joanna, superfan!
JJKale buddyleeroe 3 months ago
This ain't tinder…
pmike Michele 2 months ago
A chain-smoking, drug and alcohol addict for most of her adult life. Yeah, wonderful.
ScottSchada 17 months ago
Thank you Me TV for this new information on the fantastically alluring but sweet southern belle, Joanna Moore. I look forward to those four Andy Griffith episodes more than any. And they're all good. I was sorry to learn about the probably substance fueled clashes between herself and husband Ryan O'Neal. At least Tatum was by her side at her passing. To me she will always be the irresistible Peggy on Andy Griffith. That face! That voice! That smile!! WOW
JJKale ScottSchada 3 months ago
Put the sword back in the scabbard there, Excalibur!
jorel 23 months ago
A real shame she wasn't Andy's longtime girlfriend or even a series regular. They appeared to have real chemistry and she was genuine.
Sooner 23 months ago
She was absolutely the most beautiful, and had the sweetest face and eyes. Dumb to get rid of her.
Dario Sooner 22 months ago
Agree. She was a perfect match for Andy on the show. Sadly, Joanne was a bit self-destructive off-screen, according to Wikipedia.
Michele Sooner 15 months ago
Yes, and Opie started it all!!! Little brat! LoL!
MrsPhilHarris 23 months ago
My favourite Andy Taylor girlfriend.
harlow1313 23 months ago
I like Peggy, but she's no "darling Romeena!"
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