A Tribute to Flora: Biography of Alberta Nelson

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Why Focus on Flora Malherbe/Alberta Nelson?

I have been been playing the part of Goober’s girlfriend Flora Malherbe for several years at Mayberry events around the country.

Traveling with my brother Mike, who plays Wally at Mayberry events, I originally donned the service cap, money changer, and oil rags so I could hang out with my brother and look like part of the Mayberry scenery.

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Soon people were coming up to me and quoting Flora’s lines to me, and I realized that Flora has a small following in the Mayberry community. Not only that, but playing Flora opened doors for me to travel and meet some of the nicest people in the world — Mayberry fans — as well as some of the original cast members.
It wasn’t long before I began to research Flora and Alberta Nelson, the actress who played her on “The Andy Griffith Show.” It was my hope to locate Alberta Nelson and invite her to attend a Mayberry event and meet her fans in person. Unfortunately, she passed away on April 29, 2006.

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I started compiling information on Alberta Nelson in 2004 and began to write articles about her in 2005. Two of those articles are included below.
You will find my research on the Flora Malherbe and Alberta Nelson pages at Wikipedia.com, Answers.com and the Mayberry Gossip Club, to name a few, as well as on my own websites. Once I posted it on Wikipedia, everyone else copied it!

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So, if you see Flora in a Mayberry parade and wonder about the Mayberry character, here is all the info you ever wanted to know about Flora.

Focus on Flora Malherbe

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The character Flora Malherbe appears in three episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show” and one episode if “Mayberry RFD,” Flora Malherbe is depicted as a warm-hearted, slightly naive, young woman who works hard and strives to do a good job both as a waitress and at Wally’s. Her good nature and naiveté make her a suitable match for Goober.
Flora unselfishly volunteers to take Goober’s place at Wally’s when Goober wants to go fishing and then steps down from a job she enjoys to save that relationship. She is always conscientious and helpful; it is Flora who takes Emmett Clark shopping in Mt. Pilot for a fur for his wife Martha.
Flora is one of the first women in Mayberry to wear slacks, and she is also one of the only women in Mayberry seen holding a job usually associated with men when she works as a service station attendant.
Memorable Moments – Perhaps Flora’s most memorable scenes are in “Eat Your Heart Out” where she swaps plates on two occasions to give a better portion to Andy.
Flora Trivia – The music usually played whenever Flora appears on screen is the theme to “A SummerPlace.” (More trivia about Flora Malherbe at Flora Malherbe Trivia.)

Biography of Alberta Nelson

Alberta Nelson was an American television and film actress of the 1960s. She was born on August 14, 1937. Nelson attended Villa Maria Academy and later graduated from Andrews High School in Willoughby, Ohio, and she performed on Broadway, at the Erie Playhouse, Erie Roadhouse and also in Hollywood. After several dramatic roles on televison in the early 1960s, Nelson made five guest appearances on “The Andy Griffith Show,” four of them as Goober Pyle’s girlfriend, Flora Malherbe.
Nelson also appeared in seven movies in the 1960s as Eric Von Zipper’s girlfriend in the successful American International “Beach Party” series. She is the only person who appeared in all seven Beach Party movies, including “Beach Party,” “Muscle Beach Party” and “How to Stuff a Wild Bikini.” Nelson played the leather clad “rat pack” biker chick Puss (sometimes also called Alberta and in one film called Lisa), one of the comic villains who dogged the steps of America’s sweethearts, Annette Funicello and Frankie Avalon.
After her successful stint as Flora Malherbe, the wholesome girl-next-door on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and her comedic career as biker girl Puss, Nelson starred in 1970’s unsavory “The Wild Scene” as Dr. Virginia Grant, a female psychiatrist. This and a 1970 appearance on “Love, American Style” would be Nelson’s last credited television roles although she did some stage productions in Pennsylvania after she left television.
Updated May 2, 2006: Alberta Nelson was married to Herbert Gilman for 35 years, She passed away of cancer at age 68 on April 29, 2006 in Pennsylvania. More atAlberta Nelson Obituary
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Author’s Note: I had the privilege of talking to one of the funeral directors at the funeral home who conducted the service for Alberta Nelson when he found me listed online as the Flora Malherbe tribute artist, and he was kind enough to send me one of her funeral memorial cards. He said she had been greatly admired in the community.

From our archives March 15, 2006
Flora’s Links:
Alberta Nelson Obituary
Alberta Nelson Poem
Flora Malherbe Trivia
Flora Malherbe on MySpace
Flora’s Forum – Flora Malherbe/Alberta Nelson Discussion
Related Articles:
The Andy Griffith Show on MySpace
Mayberry Events

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