Parley Baer fondly remembered being with his ''dearest friends'' on The Andy Griffith Show

Find out how Otis and Mayor Stoner passed time as friends in the real world.

Read to Me

"You're just wasting your time, Sheriff," Mayor Stoner tells Andy Taylor in the opening scene of The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Bed Jacket." They're both in fishing gear, making small-talk on the dock of the lake. Nearby, Opie's got his pole in the water, idly.

Andy casts his line and immediately catches a fish. "Whoa," Andy says, tossing the fish in a basket already full of fish.

Mayor Stoner loses his mind, asking, "You got all those today!?"

The tension builds as Opie insists to the mayor that their success is all due to his paw’s fishing pole "Eagle-Eye Annie." When Andy lets the mayor use the pole, of course, he immediately hooks a bite, too, and this leads to him haggling with Andy, trying to get him to sell the mayor the pole.

None of this had anything to do with the set-up for the episode, which was about finding a birthday gift for Aunt Bea, but it's a perfect example of the kind of slow comedy The Andy Griffith Show was so good at, precisely because the show cast veteran character actors like Parley Baer, even for bit parts. Baer appeared as Mayor Stoner seven times from 1962–63. On the Andy Griffith Show fan podcast Two Chairs, No Waiting, Baer said he had a "wonderful, very nice" time working on the show, likening the cast to a "happy family." Thinking back on what it was like, he remembered little Ron Howard "skimming around" on a bicycle or scooter any chance he got between scenes and school.

When a fan asked what it was like to work with Andy in scenes like this one from "The Bed Jacket," Baer said, "It was great. You looked forward to going to work."

Baer's truest friends on the show were the other veteran character actors, he said, naming some of his castmates in "The Bed Jacket," Frances Bavier and Mary Lansing, who plays Mrs. Lukens, the shop owner selling the episode's titular bed jacket. All of them had come up acting in the movies and radio together, and he said Hal Smith and Howard McNear were "two of my dearest, dearest friends."

He and Hal Smith even had what Baer called a "running thing" — a tradition they'd developed over the years, going to all the same interviews as popular voice actors. He said after each audition, Smith would ask, "You busy?"

Baer would say the same thing, "No."

"Whatcha doing after?" Smith would ask.

"Nothing," Baer would confirm.

"Well, let's go get a cup of coffee and sit and lie to each other for a while," Smith suggested.

"And I'd say OK, and that’s what we did," Baer said in the interview, painting a Rockwell-esque picture of a lifetime of sitting across from his friend at a coffee shop, making each other feel good about themselves.

Fans of The Andy Griffith Show were all struck by the tragic loss of Howard McNear in 1969, and it's well-known that as one of his best friends, Baer gave the eulogy at McNear's funeral. Later, Hal Smith passed away suddenly from a heart attack in 1994. In his interview, Baer said, "There isn't a day that I don't think about those guys, that I don't mourn their passing. They were great friends and two of the finest actors who ever came down the path."

On The Andy Griffith Show, Baer appeared in just two episodes with Smith ("The Loaded Goat" and "Barney and the Governor") and only once with McNear ("The Mayberry Band"). The three veterans unfortunately never appeared together.

Assistant director Bruce Bilson, who worked on more than 50 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, told EmmyTVLegends that to him, it felt like for each of these veteran players, their Andy Griffith Show character was "a gift of a lifetime, those parts."

"The guy who played the mayor," Bilson said, getting excited talking about working with Parley Baer, so many years later, "He wasn't there much, but there were old MGM movies where he was in every one, you know?"

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Samuel 5 months ago
Don Knotts also did radio in the early 1950s. He was the voice of a radio character named Windy Wales, who apparently was something like Gabby Hayes.
Samuel 5 months ago
When GUNSMOKE was a radio show, Parley Baer did the voice of Chester and Howard McNear (I think) did the voice of Doc Adams. William Conrad did the voice of Marshal Dillon. I don't know if Miss Kitty was a regular character on the radio version of GUNSMOKE.
frances3agape 6 months ago
To REALLY be impressed, read about him at
https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0046373/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
WOOPS! I posted the link before finishing reading. It does not include most of his shows.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parley_Baer#Films_and_television is better
MadMadMadWorld 6 months ago
Parley Baer was his birth name, He lived to be 88 (Aug. 5, 1914 - Nov. 22, 2002). His first TAGS episode "Andy and the New Mayor" with the hilarious meeting of Mayor Stoner and the bear was the highlight of the episode, and one in the entire series. He was a perfect representation of bureaucrats or elected local officials who are stubborn mules in their bureaucratic orders of everyone else, with no flexibility or common sense. If it doesn't do what it was designed to do the first time, they reflexively order the same thing again! The line about insanity in expecting a different result rears its ugly head again!
Bill247golf 6 months ago
The fishing scene at the beginning of the episode has everything to do with the birthday present for aunt Bea. After seeing how many fish are caught with Eagle Eye Annie, Mayor Stoner (Parley Baer) wants the fishing rod so bad he uses the bed jacket as leverage to talk Andy into selling it to him. Without the opening scene there would have been no reason for Mayor Stoner to want the rod in the first place and no reason for him to trade the bed jacket to Andy.
F5Twitster 6 months ago
I didn't know Parley, but met him (he was an elder at a friend's church), but he struck me as an extremely nice and sweet man. And I always liked his acting.

As for

"None of this had anything to do with the set-up for the episode, which was about finding a birthday gift for Aunt Bea, but it's a perfect example of the kind of slow comedy The Andy Griffith Show was so good at..."

That's Aunt BEE. Why are we reading articles written by people who apparently don't know what they're talking about?
WordsmithWorks 6 months ago
I didn't like the Mayor Stoner character. Rude and obnoxious. Even though Andy usually got the best of him, he was always trying to throw his weight around. It's hard to believe someone that unpleasant would have been elected mayor.
His attitude made him a great character. I wish he'd stayed longer.
Sooner 6 months ago
That is probably my only criticism of this show-- and that is that it didn't hold on to the great character actors and utilize them throughout the run of the show. It seems like it would have provided more story opportunities for the scriptwriters as well.
ErnestTBass Sooner 6 months ago
The problem with having a mayor over a county sheriff should be obvious. The main reason he didn't stay long was because Andy was adamant about not having a character above him. I really wish they'd kept him. They had so many great actors it was hard to make enough room for them.
AgingDisgracefully 6 months ago
When and wherever he pops up on screen, I provide an involuntary, "PAR-bay!"
Such is his legend.
MarkEd 6 months ago
Off subject, sorry, but it's a pet peeve of mine, Andy is Opies Pa, not his Paw.
An animal has a paw, a person has a Pa, thank you.

By the way, I thought Parley Baer's Mayor Stoner, was a good choice to replace Dick Elliot's Mayor Pike. Thanks
ELEANOR 6 months ago
He was also on Perry Mason a lot! And no matter how many times I have seen him on PM, I can never remember what he looked like. He had that "every man" appearance that allowed him to disappear into the part.
Shulickp ELEANOR 6 months ago
PM ONE OF MY FAV,S
HerbF 6 months ago
Your should have mentioned that Parley Baer and Howard McNear co-stared on the radio version of GUNSMOKE for it's close-to-a-decade run! Baer was the voice of Chester and McNear was Doc Adams!
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frances3agape JHP 5 months ago
THANKS again. I will check out Watercolors.
Yes, LOTS of great comedies, mysteries and other genres.
For 10 years, I have been downloading FREE almost daily from 2 reliable sites:
1) Old Time Radio Catalog otrcat.com
At least 4 freebies and sells cds too
Scroll looking at stuff all the way down the screen, taking note of sections
"On Sale Today Only in Radio History" (usually birthdays), "Also Today in Radio History" (deaths and historic broadcasts), "Free Daily Download" (also links to Yesterday's and 2 Days Ago's)
2) Old Time Radio Fan otrfan.com/otr/random.php Random OTR Dispenser
(like TicTacToe – free download if 3 in a row. Seems no limit to how many times you can click)
ENJOY!
JHP frances3agape 5 months ago
Yeah if you like smooth jazz - watercolor is it:) ch 66
I usually listen to it when I'm on the road
But at home its old time radio - glad I kind of made your day/week/month:)
for me I got a set-up where I can record XM anytime I want to - its complicated to explain - so in a way its "free"
My fav are the comedies and Johnny Dollar is good also:)
Love the Bickerson's too but not many on the channel

Happy New Year to you and Mr:)

frances3agape JHP 5 months ago
You too !
JHP frances3agape 5 months ago
in the words of Colombo - just one more thing - watch David sanborn on you tube (Maputo) - my lord and all that he went thru - read up its all good:)
JHP 6 months ago
Hal Smith - by far my fav actor on TAGS

no ego and not brain dead
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Shulickp JHP 6 months ago
Anyone Remember The Odd Couple? One of the original shows? In 67 The Odd Couple with Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon
MadMadMadWorld Shulickp 6 months ago
"The Odd Couple" has a 1968 release date, not 1967.
May 16, 1968, to be precise. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0063374
frances3agape Shulickp 5 months ago
What a GREAT duo !
Their Grumpy Old Men films were good too
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