Tatum O'Neal perfectly described the allure of her mother, Joanna Moore of The Andy Griffith Show
"She was extraordinarily beautiful," her daughter gushed.
Peggy McMillan had a surprisingly brief stay in Mayberry. Introduced in "Andy's Rich Girlfriend," the sheriff's love interest stuck around for four measly episodes. Following the departure of Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) at the end of season one, Joanna Moore's charming Peggy seemed like she just might be "the one" for Andy.
Even in what turned out to be her final scene, at the end of "Opie's Rival," sparks flew between Andy and Peggy as Opie dropped the big "L" word. The trio are enjoying a picnic, singing the song "Cindy" by a campfire as Andy strums his guitar. (You can watch the scene above.)
"You like pa?" Opie asks. "Sure I do," she responds. "Do you love him?" the precocious kid spits back. Peggy raises her eyebrows and gives Andy a knowing look.
Not reading the adult body language, Opie rambles on, "Pa needs the companionship of a fine, young woman. Someone he can take to a dance. He can't take Barney to a dance. No, Barney's too short." Opie explains that his pa is going to marry again someday and that special someone might be Peggy. "Of course, it might be you and it might not," he notes.
To this day, a sizable portion of fans wishes that it had been Peggy who tied the knot with Sheriff Andy, not Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut), who was introduced a couple of months later on The Andy Griffith Show.
Moore simply lit up the screen. It was a trait wonderfully described by (and passed on to) her daughter, Tatum O'Neal, the youngest person to ever win an Oscar for Best Actress.
"She was extraordinarily beautiful, with blond hair, a perfect heart-shaped face, huge green eyes, and lush full lips. She had a smoky, seductive voice (which Emily and I both inherited) warmed by her Southern lilt," O'Neal wrote in her memoir, A Paper Life.
O'Neal went to describe her mother's impressionable scene in Orson Welles' A Touch of Evil. "Though my mother is on screen for only a short time in the film, she is masterful as the victim's daughter," she gushed. "My father [Ryan O'Neal] always said that my mother was the best actor in the family, but it was only after she died that I came to recognize her power." That's high praise for a member of that family.
Moore's allure was just as powerful behind-the-scenes as it was in theaters. Her male costars were routinely smitten with her. "She had to dodge Charlton Heston, who once lured her to his room," O'Neal revealed. She said that Elvis Presley tried to break down her door while the two were filming Follow That Dream in 1962. Though O'Neal did not detail this in A Paper Life, it is rumored that Andy Griffith had similar heartthrobs for his costar.
According to Daniel de Visé's insightful 2015 book Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, "[Aneta Corsaut] wasn't Andy's first affair with a Griffith costar. He had told Don [Knotts] of at least one other: Joanna Moore, the Georgia beauty and future mother of Tatum O'Neal, cast in four episodes at the start of season three as a potential girlfriend for the television sheriff."
In a 1962 interview with the Akron Beacon Journal, Moore shared her own love for The Andy Griffith Show: "I liked the Griffith show better than anything else I've ever done. 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."
So why did Peggy McMillan leave Mayberry? Fan speculation abounds, but there is no clear answer. She married Ryan O'Neal shortly after her appearance on the show and had no shortage of other roles. How strange that her final moment with Andy and Opie would be happily sipping hot cocoa and talking marriage.