Photos by Kathryn E. Darden for ChristianActivities.com.
7/01/2001 – Stars of the timeless Andy Griffith Show came to Nashville for the “Mayberry Reunion Weekend” at the Opryland Hotel, June 28 through July 1, 2001. Members of the beloved cast arrived a day early for a special reception at the Governor’s mansion on Wednesday night attended by a whole host of various and sundry Sundquists and friends.
Governor and Mrs. Sundquist were on hand to welcome special guests like Ray Stevens prior to the arrival of the evening’s honorees: Don Knotts (Barney Fife), George Lindsey (Goober), Betty Lynn (Thelma Lou), Howard Morris (Ernest T. Bass), Rodney Dillard, Doug Dillard, Dean Webb, Maggie Peterson Mancuso (The Darlings) and Bernard Fox (Malcolm Merriweather, the English butler).
The special guests arrived in an Opryland bus led in by a restored “Mayberry Police car.” Leaning out the window looking very much like ole’ Barn himself was Don Knotts/Barney Fife impersonator David Browning, who played the role almost to perfection.
The Mayberry cast was treated to a few minutes of media Q & A before heading into the mansion to schmooze with the plethora of Sundquists and their assorted guests.
The weekend’s much-anticipated highlight was the Mayberry Cast Reunion Show at Opryland Hotel. The original Mayberry cast members starred in a variety show dinner production at Aunt Bee’s Blue Ribbon Dinner Show on Thursday, June 28 and Saturday, June 30. The dinner and subsequent question and answer panel were hosted by George Lindsey (Goober) with Barney impersonator David Browning acting as an emcee along with his sidekick, “Floyd the Barber.”
The variety show included a small set by each cast member and included such highlights as: George Lindsey telling jokes; Maggie Peterson Mancuso singing “Mississippi Mud” accompanied by her sister on piano; Howard Morris singing that when he was not with the girl he loved, he loved the girl he was with; Rodney Dillard, Doug Dillard, Dean Webb, (The Darlings) performing some bluegrass as well as a gospel number; Betty Lynn singing a medley of “rainbow” songs; and Don Knotts pantomiming a baseball pitcher.
Morris made himself a special crowd pleaser by being the only cast member who opted to wear his original Mayberry costume, normal Ernest T. Bass garb: basball cap and worn out clothes. He proudly displayed the numerous holes in his jeans (held up with a rope) to the enthusiastic crowd before finally getting a long-awaited kiss from Maggie/Charlene.
Guests also received tickets to a meet and greet autograph reception with the actors of the television show that
debuted Monday, October 3, 1960, and ran for 249 episodes, 90 of which were color.
Over approximately 560 guests attended the Saturday night dinner filling up 70 tables, and over 1000 came to
various Mayberry functions over the weekend, according to one opryland count. The Andy Griffeth Show Reruns Watchers Club reports 1600 people at the 7pm show on Friday, so the number for the weekend may be WAY over 1000! This is not the first appearance of Mayberry stars at Opryland. In 1991, stars gathered to perform
for the largest-ever audiences for a live Mayberry-related stage show.
The days of Mayberry may be long gone, but the town lives on in reruns and in the hearts of those
that still enjoy watching the timeless show. There is an enthusiastic grass-roots base of fans in The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Clubs all over the US and overseas. Mayberry is still a delicious slice of Americana as homey as Mom’s apple pie, as patriotic as Independence Day, and as neighborly as a church social, so if you think that Mayberry does not live on today, just take that thought and nip it, nip it in the bud.
View photos from the event at Mayberry Reunion Photos.
Related Stories & Links:
Opryland Hosts Titanic & Mayberry
Longing for Mayberry
Andy Griffith — Old Wood and Wine
Just As He Is: Andy Sings Gospel
The Way Back to Mayberry
Christian Activities Andy Griffith Forum
Christian Activities Mayberry Forum
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