Unfortunately, Annie Oakley star Gail Davis performed her last role ever as Sheriff Andy's sweetheart

The Andy Griffith Show cast her as ''the perfect female,'' but most directors believed the Western star ''was always going to be Annie Oakley.''

On Now
Andy Taylor finds the perfect female!
Up Next:

When Barney Fife and his gal set up Sheriff Andy Taylor with Thelma Lou's cousin Karen in The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Perfect Female," she seems the perfect match for Andy.

She can play guitar and sing, and he's even surprised to learn that she likes shooting sporting clays. As the episode title suggests, she's a real looker and she shares all the same interests as Andy.

There's only one problem getting in the way of this romance: Karen's worried Andy's ego is a bit too big, and she's determined to shoot it down.

So at the end of the episode, when Andy seems certain to win the prize for shooting sporting clays in a local tournament, nobody sees it coming when suddenly Karen becomes his biggest competition.

Well, nobody saw it coming, except everybody in the audience who knew the actor playing Karen better as TV's Annie Oakley.

From 1954 to 1957, Gail Davis appeared in the starring role of Annie Oakley, handpicked by series producer and cowboy singer Gene Autry.

Autry once famously called Davis "the perfect Western actress," to which The Andy Griffith Show episode title likely calls back.

You see, Davis didn't just play a sharpshooter on TV. When she was a little girl, before she even learned to sing and dance, she learned to shoot doing target practice with acorns, growing up in her small town in Arkansas.

According to The Miami News in 1956, Davis received a rifle as a gift from her physician father at the age of eight, and by nine years old was able to pick off an acorn from 60 yards away, shooting backward.

She met Autry as a college student who had recently transferred to the University of Texas, and she impressed him so much, he told her to look him up if she ever came to Hollywood.

Shortly after she graduated, she made a point to ride through California and Autry made good on his word and put her in his shows and live events.

In 1956, The Charlotte Observer described Davis as she appeared at a local show, saying, "With her yellow hair and pigtails down her back, wearing her flat cowgirl hat, she was as tiny and dainty as a Dresden China doll, with a six-gun on her hip and toting a shiny-barrelled .22 rifle."

At live shows, Davis would thrill crowds by shooting Christmas ornaments off of a revolving wheel or shooting over her shoulder while sighting in a mirror and then nailing a bullseye located far behind her.

On The Andy Griffith Show, Davis recreated this act for the last time. Knowing more about her history makes the comedy of the final scene as brilliant as the rhinestone hats Davis once tossed to young fans.

By 1961, when she appeared as Thelma Lou's cousin Karen and Andy's potential sweetheart, Davis was more than ready to leave Annie Oakley behind and step into more roles. Sadly, she instead felt that she had become typecast and never found the success she deserved.

"I tried to find other acting work, but I was so identified as Annie Oakley that directors would say, 'Gail, I'd like to hire you, but you're going to have to wait a few years, dye your hair and cut off your pigtails,'" Davis told The Chicago Tribune in 1982. "Directors just couldn't envision me in a sexy part or playing a heavy. I was always going to be Annie Oakley. So, as they say, I retired."

Thus, The Andy Griffith Show would be the last time she ever appeared onscreen.

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 8 & 8:30, Sundays at 6 & 6:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?


Dlawson 36 months ago
It's unfortunate that she was typecast to the point that she couldn't been hired for other roles. She was an actress and, in my opinion, a good one. I watched her show as a little girl and loving westerns as I did, I loved it, too. Plus, it seemed geared more toward a younger audience. In any case, I wore my hair in two braids like she did with pride, in part because Annie Oakley did, too!
PS - the braids were my mom's idea, and it had nothing to do with Annie Oakley, though! LOL
jimmyvici 36 months ago
A real fine looking woman. 😍❤️😍❤️
drnogerms 36 months ago
I met "Annie Oakley" in Shreveport, LA when I was about 10 years old - and her TV show was still on the air. She was in full make-up and costume - making an appearance on a local TV station to promote her appearance at a rodeo.

She was gracious and very friendly to us kids. We loved her for that.

OMG! That was almost 65 years ago!
dujon55 36 months ago
That episode with Don Rickles is one of my favorites
Pacificsun 36 months ago
These classic TV channels shouldn't just thing about individual programs. But recreate the lineup of a particular night or morning. THAT, would be so awesome!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 36 months ago
Yes. bring back the Tuesday night- Happy Days- Laverne and Shirley and Threes Company from the past.
ncadams27 Pacificsun 36 months ago
Like Sunday night in place of Monk.
denny 36 months ago
She may have been the least attractive of Andy's girlfriends. I don't buy the typecast thing either. Don Knotts, Andy, Shelley Fabares, Ron Howard, Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway, Guy Williams, John Travolta, Michael J Fox and many more had memorable and very popular characters and TV shows in multiple decades.
LH denny 36 months ago
I thought Eleanor Donahue and Aneta Corsaut weren’t very attractive either.
I think Joanna Moore was the prettiest one of all.
denny LH 36 months ago
denny LH 36 months ago
Yes, Joanna Moore then Sue Ann Langdon. I thought Elinor Donahue was cute as well. Just to young for Andy.
LH 36 months ago
Elinor Donahue had a beautiful smile. She was a class act, which is more than I can say for cold, grouchy, off-putting Aneta Corseaut. Aneta's false eyelashes were ridiculous!
LH denny 36 months ago
Sue Ann Langdon was a really cute in that Bonanza episode “The Many Faces of Gideon Flinch.” Every time I see her in TAGS I always think about that Bonanza episode!
denny LH 36 months ago
I remember her from Rostabout, starring Elvis. She had dark hair in it and looked totally different but great as well.
ELEANOR 36 months ago
I remember that episode. Had no idea that she had that kind of history. One notable thing about this episode was that she broke the mold in that Andy was expecting arm candy. And by golly, she was not arm candy.
Yort 36 months ago
Gail Davis was yet another girl I had a crush on as an adolescent. Even in black and white you could tell she was a beauty.
JeffPaul76 36 months ago
I've never seen that episode of TAGS before, but then I don't watch it much anyway. If it's on tonight or soon, then maybe I'll watch it. In that picture of Gail Davis as Annie Oakley, she looks like Dale Evans, Roy Rogers' wife.
Tlor JeffPaul76 36 months ago
not even, she was much prettier than Dale!
ncadams27 36 months ago
If this were Bonanza, she would have died in a hunting accident by the end of the episode.
ncadams27 36 months ago
This comment has been removed.
LH ncadams27 36 months ago
Yup! They had to keep the Bonanza boys single and “available!”
harlow1313 36 months ago
If I recall "The Perfect Female" correctly, we see a dark side of Andy Taylor in his pointless killing of crows.

Crows are intelligent, and wonderfully spooky in human lore. I love the cacophony from a murder of crows on an early morning walk
Load previous comments
Tlor harlow1313 36 months ago
Please, crows got into the crops, destroy harvests and they were nuisances. City folks just don't get it!
harlow1313 Tlor 36 months ago
You underestimate the thoughts that flow through my head. Everything eats. Sadly, no species wrecks the planet like we humans. C'est la vie.
harlow1313 36 months ago
Griffith apparently had no problem with animal abuse: The Loaded Goat comes to mind. Andy often spoke fondly of killing crows, "frog-gigging," "knocking off a few rats," etc.
Barry22 36 months ago
I get a channel that shows Annie Oakley early in the morning. I sometimes watch it. Nothing special.
Pacificsun Barry22 36 months ago
But it was in the day. How many independent, capable female roles were there? Being a Western made it even more fun, especially for the kids.
Barry22 36 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Lantern stephaniestavr5 36 months ago
A problem with Retro TV is that the old series and movies it airs are not restored, so most times the picture and/or sound quality are not good.
Tampammm Pacificsun 36 months ago
I agree. I still watch Annie Oakley often along with Lone Ranger and The Roy Rogers Show. I love these more simplistic action 30 minute Western episodes. A lot of fun!
Pacificsun Tampammm 36 months ago
That used to be the Saturday morning lineup for kids (after early morning cartoons). Do you remember Sky King too. I think some years they might've had Rin Tin Tin and Zorro!

These classic TV channels shouldn't just thing about individual programs. But recreate the lineup of a particular night or morning. THAT, would be so awesome!
Tampammm Pacificsun 36 months ago
That would be phenomenal to recreate the exact programming line-ups, just as they ran originally! And yes, I remember Sky King also, though not as well as the others - I recall enjoying the girl in that series.
RedSamRackham Barry22 36 months ago
* Indeed Betty Hutton's ANNIE GET YOUR GUN was more about who Annie Oakley really albeit somewhat fictional. Yet it inspired the Gail Davis TV series re-inventing Annie as a kind of female Lucas McCain, totally fictional! ☺
birddog 36 months ago
Interesting Story Thanks Metv! But I'm still not letting you off the hook. Monk still needs to go, nothing personal strictly Business!! :))
Pacificsun birddog 36 months ago
I'll agree to getting rid of Monk, IF The Three Stooges go with it.
kkloepfer birddog 36 months ago
I agree, Monk is a bad choice. I replied also.
birddog Pacificsun 36 months ago
Yeah I hear Ya! But I'm afraid we are stuck with both of them tell, white stuff falls in South Beach. RR
AnneFincham Pacificsun 36 months ago
Yes Monk need to go...that show doesn't fit in and doesn't belong on Metv
justjeff 36 months ago
...and thus was the end of many promising careers. 'Typecasting' should be left to those of us who work in the printing and graphic arts industry, *not* to performers who put their own mark on a role and eventually own it,..
Load previous comments
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 36 months ago
Did you mean to reply to me or JustJeff? Because we're on the same page! We usually are! Though I can easily handle a disagreement, nicely!! 😉 😉

My point is to say, the actor needs to rise above their personality, if their personality is what the role depended upon! Example: at Nimoy's/Spock's point in time, it was really difficult to see beyond is famous character. My guess is, he was still being compared to, in Mission Impossible. Probably because he just had that Nimoy "look." And that happens with lots of actors! And maybe it IS because they do put too much of themselves into a role.

And then there are just some chameleon personalities who escape. Arlene Martel is one example (who by the way, changed her name several times). She frequently changed the color of her hair, style, articulation. If anyone could escape being "Spock's Wife" she did a dang good job, appearing all over TV.

So I agree with your summary, it can be a double-edged sword.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 36 months ago
Yes I would say partial agreement not disagreement. Not saying actors/actresses are less talented if they are "typecast" , it just worked that way for some. But there are or were those that chose not to be set to a specific genre or role. I think we benefit both ways.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 36 months ago
P.S.- I was referring to Actors/Actresses on the whole, not specifically Classic or Retro.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?