With more than 13 movie credits as well as approximately 30 television show roles and appearances under her belt, Jean Carson is an almost legendary blond "other girl" in Hollywood. She is best known to fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" as Miss Crump's nemesis, "fun girl" Daphne. I have had the pleasure of seeing this veteran actress perform at several reunions of "The Andy Griffith Showï" around the country where she adds zest and vitality. People who know her well tell me she is a joy to be around.
This past summer, I happened to notice that Jean Carson wore a prominent Icthus pin on her blouse during a press conference. I wrote Ms. Carson a note and asked her if I could interview her, and she graciously agreed. On November 3, 2003, she called me to tell me a little about her experience with "The Andy Griffith Show" her life in Hollywood, and her amazing testimony.
Jean Carson -- Testimony
I had worked for 15 years on Broadway before live television. When everything moved to the Coast, I had to move. Most of the people - the directors and producers - when it came on tape, they moved it all to the West Coast. I had to move to survive; that's why I moved to Hollywood.
"The Andy Griffith Show" was very pleasant experience, unusually so because it was so well prepared when the actors came in. In many ways it was just a job, and no one expected it to be what it turned out to be because there were other good clean shows at that time like the "Brady Bunch" I thought that was a good show, too. It was not unusual for there to be good shows then. Now I don't know why anyone watches TV anymore; I am just shocked with it - I even find the commercials disgusting. Even the subject matter. There are commercials on now about things that my boys never even knew about growing up, and I don't think it's going to change anytime soon, dear.
The message and the spiritual value of "The Andy Griffith Show" are that it was a clean, wholesome, high moral message. I was never sure where the fun girls fit into that message! (laughs) I think we were harmless. Evidently there was a line where I was mad at Andy and I say something as I am leaving..... well I can't remember the line exactly right now but fans have told me it had a moral to it! I think it is so great that this show is now taught in Sunday schools and churches. Did you know there is a Bible Study based on the show?
You asked when I became a Christian. I don't usually talk about this although I do believe some of my fans know that I had a period in the early 70's when I was having trouble with alcohol. I was just breaking up out of a nightmarish marriage. I don't want to go into the details, but it was a very bad situation. My husband and I had separated by that time and I was alone. At this time my oldest son was at Berkley and my youngest son was away at boarding school. Everything seemed to pile up on me at once. My marriage had just gone all to heck and my boys being gone...I was alone.
Alcohol is cunning and baffling and powerful. I think it is probably the worst drug of all. To me it, oh, it took hold of me immediately. I drank for about five years but I became an alcoholic immediately. I was what they call a bedroom drinker meaning I was a home drinker, not out bar hopping. I would generally drink until I passed out. Every time I drank, I got drunk.
I remember if somebody called me for a job and it was a last-minute television thing, not a major film that I would know about in advance, I would say, "Oh dear, I am on my way out of town." I couldn't take that job because I couldn't be sure I would be ready the next day.
I have been told the only way a person can quit alcohol is to have a strong spiritual experience, and I certainly did. I am very hesitant to tell this story because it makes me sound crazy. One day when I was drinking and very sick I was lying in bed and Jesus appeared. He appeared above me and said,"I gave you life and I can take it away."
The important thing I have learned from my experience is we do take it one day at a time. I do believe Jesus has the power as he told me: "I gave you life and I can take it away." They make fun of me in AA when I tell that story because they tell me it makes me sound nutty. It embarrasses them for some reason. I just take it as being they haven't had a spiritual experience of any sort that has helped them with their AA program. It is a very spiritual program.
The experience changed Jean's life immediately and dramatically. She stopped drinking, joined AA and gave her life to the Lord. She found a supportive church home and continued to be actively involved with AA after 30 years.
Source: Kathryn Darden Interview with Jean Carson
Editor's Note: Jean Carson passed away on November 2, 2005.