Mary Lansing played more Mayberry characters than any other actress
Before she was Martha Clark, she was Mrs. Lukens, Mrs. Rodenbach and many more.
There are those faces you see again and again on The Andy Griffith Show. No, we're not talking about Opie and Gomer. We mean the minor characters, those random friends of Aunt Bee, upset citizens, farmers, business owners, eccentrics, etc.
To make matters even more confusing, the production enjoyed using the same batch of actors to play multiple characters. Also, there was very little consistency with continuity. For example, take Burt Mustin, best known as the old man Judd — but sometimes spelled Jud or named Jubal.
Mary Lansing is the best example of these Mayberry bit players. She often played different characters one single week apart.
In "The Bed Jacket," she is Mrs. Lukens, owner of a clothing store that Aunt Bee frequents. Seven days later, she popped up again in "The Bank Job," getting her hair done. Only, this time she was Mrs. Rodenbach, as Barney addresses her.
In fact, Lansing played at least 13 different characters in the Mayberry universe. She is best known as Martha Clark, wife of Emmett, and she settled into that role during the sitcom's color years and carried over into the spin-off Mayberry R.F.D. Prior to that, however, she was Miss Primrose, Miss Roundtree, Dorothy, and Mary. She made her debut in "The Merchant of Mayberry," as Mrs. Mason, a shopper buying six China cups.
All in all, her 13 various characters make her the actress with the most roles on The Andy Griffith Show. Robert McQuain arguably appeared more, but when he's billed as "Newlywed Man" or "One of the Jenkins men," it's difficult to tell if he's truly playing different guys.
Lansing's work on the spin-offs, put her in a league of her own, however. On Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., she appeared as a "Librarian," "Cook," and "Maid."
So, who was Lansing? She made her debut in Happy Days — no, not the Fonzie sitcom, but rather a 1929 movie. Her voice could be heard in two classics. In Disney's Bambi, she was Aunt Ena and Mrs. Possum. A decade later, she was heard but not seen in I Love Lucy, as the voice of Cynthia in "Ethel's Birthday." She is heard as the voice of a character in the stage play Over the Teacups.
Martha Clark was her last major role. She worked on just one more show after that, in 1974, a bit part in the largely forgotten Apple's Way. She would live 14 more years but never act again.