One of the many reasons I enjoy watching The Andy Griffith Show is because of the various actors who appeared on it as guest stars or in supporting roles. There were many notable performers that appeared as citizens and visitors to Mayberry. Some of these men and women had careers that went back to the Golden Age of Hollywood and there were others for whom Mayberry was just the first stop on their way to stardom. From time to time, I’d like to take the opportunity to salute the most notable of these fine folks and use these essays as a chance to spotlight them.
One of my favorite character actors who appeared on The Andy Griffith Show was Parley Baer. Baer, who was born on August 5, 1914 in Salt Lake City, Utah, played Mayor Roy Stoner for several episodes during the show’s third season. Mayor Stoner came across on screen as snide and overbearing. He was the kind of full-of-himself bureaucrat who was just made to be taken down a peg or two by Andy Taylor’s down-home common sense approach to handling problems. I thought Baer was perfect in the role. Perhaps he was a bit too perfect, because my mother hated the character.
I can remember watching episodes with my mom and she would always comment about how nasty Mayor Stoner was and she was always tickled when Andy showed him up. She especially loved it when he got put in his place after trying to strong-arm Andy into tearing up a ticket after Barney had tagged the governor’s car in “Barney and the Governor” and after he berated Rafe Holister as being unfit to represent Mayberry in the Ladies’ League Musical in “Rafe Hollister Sings.” Mom hated bullies and people who abused their authority, and she thought Mayor Stoner was the embodiment of men like that.
As for me, I just thought Mayor Stoner was another fine performance in a career that spanned six decades and included everything from working in the circus (as a publicist and ringmaster) to radio (Baer was one of the most prolific actors in the medium in the 1940’s and 1950’s and is best remembered for playing Chester on the radio version of Gunsmoke) to movies (his earliest credited role was 1950’s Comanche Territory and his final movie role was 1995’s Last of the Dogmen) to television (he appeared as a regular on The Adventure of Ozzie and Harriet as Darby and guest-starred on too many television shows to list here, but a few notables include I Love Lucy, Bonanza, The Addams Family, Bewitched, Little House on the Prairie and The Dukes of Hazzard).
Later on in his life, between his numerous roles in movies and on television, he even voiced Ernie the Kebler Elf in commercials. He lent his voice to Ernie up until 1997 when a stroke sidelined his career. Complications from the stroke resulted in his passing at the age of 88 on November 22, 2002. I have no doubts that Roy Stoner probably didn’t have an easy time winning re-election in Mayberry, but the man who portrayed him, Parley Baer, was always in demand.