Aaron Ruben didn’t play one of the colorful characters inhabiting Mayberry on “The Andy Griffith Show,” but was one of the reasons for its tremendous success all the same.
Ruben, who produced the long-running television series starring the Mount Airy native, died in Beverly Hills, Calif., several days ago from complications of pneumonia. He was 95.
“Betty Lynn and I were talking about him literally yesterday,” Surry Arts Council Director Tanya Jones said Wednesday of Ruben. “That is really weird,” added Jones, who was unaware that he had died.
The Surry Arts Council director frequently stays in touch with surviving cast and crew members from “The Andy Griffith Show” as part of planning for the annual Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, which is sponsored by the arts group.
“We were actually talking about the 50th anniversary (of the show’s debut in 1960), and what the arts council will be doing,“ Jones said of her conversation with Lynn, now a resident of Mount Airy who portrayed Barney’s girlfriend “Thelma Lou.”
Jones said she had spoken with Ruben’s wife several years ago about the possibility of Ruben visiting Mount Airy for Mayberry Days. But that was not possible due to the former producer being in ill health.
“He played a huge role,” Jones added of Ruben’s work on “The Andy Griffith Show,” mentioning that his name was listed prominently in the program’s credits. One reference guide shows that Ruben produced 150 episodes of the show from 1960-65. It continues to run in syndication.
“He was the glue,” Jones said of the producer, who typically has responsibility for assembling all the ingredients for a television program, including actors, creative talent and production personnel.
“Other than Andy Griffith himself, no one was more important in guiding and shaping the show and assuring superb quality in all aspects of its production,” Jim Clark of The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club said of Ruben in a statement issued Wednesday.
“And I know that he was hugely admired by Andy Griffith,” the arts council director said of Ruben. Griffith and Ruben were “very close,” she said.
Other TV shows produced by Ruben include “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and “Sanford and Son,” a series for which he also wrote scripts.
In his later years, Ruben was an advocate for abused and abandoned children.
Contact Tom Joyce at email@example.com or at 719-1924.