First Posted: 9/23/2009
For veteran actor James Best, a visit to Mayberry was but a brief stopover on his way to a starring role on The Dukes of Hazzard, but hell always appreciate his link to The Andy Griffith Show.
Best, who is in Mount Airy for Mayberry Days, appeared as a handsome guitar player named Jim Lindsey in only the third episode of the series.
In that particular show, originally broadcast on Oct. 17, 1960, Sheriff Andy Taylor tries to help Lindsey get a job with a touring band that stops for lunch in Mayberry. This is accomplished by giving the group a parking ticket and then forcing its members to listen to Lindsey while jailed in the courthouse.
Best made a reappearance during the same season, again as Lindsey, for his second and final episode of the program.
Back in those day, as a working actor, you were jumping from one job to another, said Best, who was staying busy juggling numerous TV and movie roles. I did more than 200 Westerns in those days, he said, which covered work on both the large and small scenes.
He is excited about the response his book, Best in Hollywood, The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful, is receiving.
Its a labor of love. It took me about three years to put it together. My children and grandchildren told me that Id had an interesting life and I ought to write a book. So I teamed up with a Mayberry fan, Jim Clark. He is such a fantastic writer, Best said.
Best, who now resides near Hickory, said the reaction to the book is amazing to him.
People are being so kind with their comments on the book. Thats very exciting to write something and to have people really enjoy it, he said.
Thinking back to the height of his career, Best said he misses the days of real movie stars.
Hollywood was the queen of the world as far as entertainment goes back in those days. In those days they had superstars, which were Jimmy Stewart, Henry Fonda, Walter Brennan, Humphrey Bogart and those guys. I was fortunate at that time to be there and work with them, he said.
He did five movies with Jimmy Stewart. He was under contract with Universal Studios for two years. He made 13 pictures with that studio.
I was very fortunate to be blessed to work with real movie stars. Movie stars are people who do more than one movie. Reality stars are not what I consider stars.
During the course of his career, he acted in more than 600 TV shows and 83 feature films.
Best said he is looking forward to seeing everyone again for Mayberry Days. He will be appearing at the Mayberry Days Golf Tournament today at 12:30 p.m. at Cross Creek Country Club. He will also be in the parade Saturday. He will be available at other times during Mayberry Days.
In addition to his book, Best will be selling prints of his latest painting called Barney Fifes car down by the swimming hole.
Best has attended Mayberry Days at least eight times.
Contact Mondee Tilley at [email protected] or at 719-1930.