Mental Floss

5 TV Aunts Worth Remembering

Kara Kovalchik
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As a follow-up to this post about TV uncles, we're giving equal time to the TV aunts who've shaped our lives (or just plain made us laugh) over the years.

1. Aunt Esther

Fred Sanford's sister-in-law Esther didn't show up until midway through Season Two; until that time Fred's main comic foil was Aunt Ethel (played by Beah Richards). But Richards didn't quite have the necessary wicked wit with which to dress down Redd Foxx, so he brought in his old pal LaWanda Page. Page had started out working as an exotic dancer billed as "The Bronze Goddess of Fire," but when she met Foxx on the "chitlin' circuit" he saw potential in her off-stage raunchy sense of humor and encouraged her to try her hand at stand-up. As Aunt Esther, she more than held her own with Fred Sanford, dismissing him as a "fish-eyed fool" whenever he spat out one of his many insults ("Why don't you press your face in some dough and make gorilla cookies?")

2. Aunt Bee

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3. Aunt Clara

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4. Aunt Harriet

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But Aunt Harriet was introduced in the DC comic book series two years before the television series debuted "“ she was brought in to care for Bruce and Dick after Alfred the butler died. Madge Blake didn't start acting until she was almost 50 years old; prior to that time she held several factory jobs, and during World War II she worked in Utah at the company developing the detonator for the atomic bomb. While she was under contract to play Larry Mondello's mom on

Leave It to Beaver

, she was offered the role of Aunt Bee on

The Andy Griffith Show

, which she had to turn down. She recommended her good friend Frances Bavier to the TAGS producers.

5. Aunt Viv

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