Ronnie Schell is appearing at several events throughout Mayberry Days.
Schell began his affiliation with Mayberry while he was in his second year of filming on the popular Andy Griffith Show spin-off, “Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C.,” when he was asked to guest star on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
That turned into two appearances on the show, once playing the role of a television director trying to convince Aunt Bee to film a commercial and again as a salesmen on another episode.
“That’s when I became eligible to come to Mayberry Days,” joked Schell.
Schell was born in Richmond, California, on Dec. 23, 1931. Schell’s first career choice was to play professional baseball, however after getting to the semi-pro leagues, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force, where he began performing both as an emcee and comedian.
After his Air Force career, he studied at San Francisco State University, where Schell formed a comedy duo which “took off.” Within a year of forming the duo, Schell turned solo and starting working as an opening act in Las Vegas. Shortly afterward, he became Jim Nabors’ marine bunk-mate “Duke Slater” on Gomer Pyle in 1964.
It was while filming on the set of Gomer Pyle that he met Andy Griffith and the two became friends.
“Andy would call me his VVVBP, very very very best pal,” said Schell. After several years of friendship he said he and Griffith began doing comedy tours together across the country, where Schell began his career as a night club performer.
Schell, who resides in Los Angeles, has attended at least five Mayberry Days prior to this year.
“I look forward to it (Mayberry Days), always enjoyable.”
Reach Eva Queen at (336) 415-4739 or [email protected]