Ken Berry's wife showed up in Mayberry long before he did
Jackie Joseph made a memorable dance partner for Ernest T. Bass.
Image: The Everett Collection
Only two actors have headlined a sitcom set in Mayberry. When Andy Griffith ended his namesake Andy Griffith Show, he passed the torch to Ken Berry. A dazzling dancer from the Quad Cities, Berry proved his comedic chops in F Troop and later became the son of Mama on Mama's Family. Of course, in between those hits, he starred in Mayberry R.F.D., which remained one of the top five most-watched television shows in its first two seasons.
Though Berry got his own spin-off, he did not appear on The Andy Griffith Show until the tail end. His character, Sam Jones, made his debut in "Sam for Town Council," the 27th episode of the final season.
Heck, Berry's wife was even an established Mayberry resident years before that. Indeed, Jackie Joseph turned up as a charming love interest in a fan-favorite episode.
First, a little backstory. Jackie and Ken met working as dancers and singers in the Billy Barnes Review of 1958. The two married in 1960, the same year Jackie had her big breakthrough. She made a bigger splash in Hollywood that year, landing the lead role of Audrey in The Little Shop of Horrors. Berry, meanwhile, nabbed a recurring part on The Ann Sothern Show. He later scored a job as a cast member on Ensign O'Toole. Jackie appeared in an episode of that military comedy, "Operation: Casanova," giving her a chance to share the screen with her hubby.
In 1964, Jackie wandered into Mayberry. "My Fair Ernest T. Bass" retold the tale of Pygmalion, as the local "nut" (as Barney calls him) Ernest is groomed to become a gentleman of society. Most know the fable better as My Fair Lady.
Well, if Ernest T. Bass was the Eliza Doolittle in this spoof, then Ramona Ankrum was the Freddy Eynsford-Hill, the one who became smitten with this newly mannered character. Jackie played the charming Ramona, sharing scenes with Sheriff Andy before her big moment with Ernest (Howard Morris).
Ramona and Ernest dance together at the genteel dinner party of Mrs. Wylie. (Fun fact: Howard Morris' wife at the time was named Dolores Wylie.) The lovebirds then head outside to bat their eyes at each other and chat.
It would be Jackie Joseph's lone appearance in Mayberry. Ramona was never seen again. Jackie would, however, make several appearances on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. And, she would guest star on F Troop with Ken Berry. The two would divorce in 1976.