Sweet Romeena Comes to Town

by: 

Kathryn Darden
Aug 14, 2009

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A fine time was had by all when actress Jackie Joseph was hosted by The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club for dinner at the Spaghetti Factory in Nashville on August 12 a few years ago. Jackie Joseph is best known to fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" as the girlfriend of Ernest T. Bass, "Sweet Romeena." Her other Mayberry connection was her 17-year marriage to Ken Berry, who starred as Sam Jones on the "Mayberry, RFD" series. She also appeared in four episodes of "Gomer Pyle, USMC."

Jackie, who was in town for the annual AFTRA convention, shared numerous amusing anecdotes with her fans. In The Cheyenne Social Club she co-starred with legends Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda, in the 1970 movie directed by Gene Kelly. Jackie told how intimidated Gene was to direct Jimmy Stewart and how Jimmy would tell her, "I wish Gene would tell me what to do." She did a fair Jimmy Stewart imitation, too, but that's not surprising given her work doing voices on shows like "The All-New Popeye Hour," various "Scooby-Doo's" and "Josie and the Pussycats" among others.

She confessed of her appearance on TAGS that to her Howard Morris was the BIG star. Jackie said she recognized Andy and Don as good actors of the day but that Howard had been a big star on "Sid Caesar" and that's who she was most in awe of on the set. She was asked if Morris had really lifted
her onto the porch in the "Mrs. Wiley's" scene since he was "not too big." Jackie laughed and said Morris THOUGHT he was big and acted like he was big, and that he certainly never considered himself a small man.

Jackie shared a humorous "behind the scenes" story with the group. In the scene where Ernest T. Bass is ejected from Mrs. Wiley's, Romeena follows him outside and they end up skipping and giggling while playing leap frog over a stump in Mrs. Wiley's front yard. Jackie divulged that the first time she tried to leap frog over that stump, the hem of her dress caught on the stump and she plopped down hard, legs akimbo, fairly exposed since her dress was still caught on the stump. She admitted it was really a pretty traumatic experience for a young actress.

Arriving with Jackie was a friend named Bobbie Bates, a dancer and bit player from the last 8 seasons of "The Carol Burnette Show" (which ran for 11 seasons). Bates also appeared in The Titanic as one of the Irish dancers below deck. Her Mayberry connections include: performing with Jim Nabors on the Carol Burnette Show, performing with Ken Barry on the Carol Burnette Show; and co-starring with Bernard Fox (Malcolm Merriweather) in The Titanic.

When it was time to eat, Jackie, who had been admiring the practicality of the children's bibs provided by the Spaghetti Factory, gleefully slipped one over her head and ate her spaghetti with a child's bib on. When she was through eating, she graciously left the head table of her own accord and moved to the second table to spend some time with the other guests gathered in her honor.

Jackie Joseph was as sweet and bubbly as her Mayberry alter ego, posing for endless photos in varying combinations with her fans, signing autographs, and sharing her stories and laughter. She may be better known to the general public for her roles in Gremlins, Police Academy, Small Soldiers and "The Doris Day Show," but to her Mayberry fans she will always remain "Sweet Romeena."

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