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For more than 30 years, John Kiesewetter has been the source for information about all things in local media – comings and goings, local people appearing on the big or small screen, special programs, and much more. Local media is still his beat and he’s bringing his interest, curiosity, contacts and unique style to Cincinnati Public Radio and 91.7 WVXU. Contact John at johnkiese@yahoo.com.

Ronnie Schell to reminisce about 'Gomer Pyle,' 'Andy Griffith' and more in Fairfield

 Ronnie Schell now and as Duke Slater in 'Gomer Pyle.'
Courtesy
Ronnie Schell now and as Duke Slater in 'Gomer Pyle.'

The veteran actor and comedian has worked six decades in Hollywood on everything from 'Happy Days' and 'The Golden Girls' to 'Yes Dear.'

After talking about coming here for years, actor Ronnie Schell will share his experiences on Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Andy Griffith, Mork & Mindy, Sanford and Son and 100 other shows at the Fairfield Community Arts Center 6 p.m. Saturday, June 25.

Schell, 90, who played Gomer Pyle's pal Duke Slater on the CBS sitcom, (1964-69), has frequently said he wanted to visit the Cincinnati area — specifically Lebanon — during interviews with David Ray (Allen) Mondays at 4:46 p.m. on WMKV-FM. So Ray has arranged the one-man show, An Evening With Ronnie Schell.

"He's acted in so many TV shows. He has so many stories about Hollywood," says Ray, 66, a retired Kings High School counselor who records interviews in his South Lebanon home studio.

Schell's credits read like an encyclopedia of TV classics: The Golden Girls, Happy Days, The Patty Duke Show, That Girl, Charlie's Angels, Dukes of Hazard, Coach, The Carol Burnett Show, The Bob Newhart Show, The Wayans Brothers, Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, Adam-12,  The Love Boat, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Mike Douglas, Merv Griffin and Saved By The Bell.

Ronnie Schell Good Morning World w Goldie Hawn Sept 1967 CBS.jpg
Courtesy CBS
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Ronnie Schell and Goldie Hawn starred in "Good Morning World," a 1967-68 CBS sitcom set in a Los Angeles radio station.

His voice also was heard on tons of cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbera when it was owned by Cincinnati's Taft Broadcasting: Jetsons: The Movie, Fred Flintstone & Friends, Yo Yogi!, The Smurfs, Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School, The Flintstone Kids and Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels.

The California native made his TV debut as a teen contestant on Groucho Marx's You Bet Your Life in 1950. He told Groucho he wanted to get into show business. He did, first as a comedian in 1958 while a student at San Francisco State University.

His big break came when he was drafted for duty on the original cast of Gomer Pyle, the Jim Nabors spin-off from Andy Griffith in 1964. After three seasons, he left to star in his own sitcom, Good Morning World, set in a Los Angeles radio station with Goldie Hawn a year before her break-through role on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In.

"He has lots of stories about Goldie Hawn," says Ray, whose favorite childhood show was Gomer Pyle. He met Schell at the Andy Griffith Show festival in Mt. Airy, N.C.

Good Morning World, sponsored by Cincinnati's Procter & Gamble Co., lasted only one year — but long enough for Cincinnati TV host Bob Braun to appear in two of the 26 episodes.

Schell returned to Gomer Pyle for the final season (1969-70). Then he spent the next five decades as a TV guest star and voice actor on everything from Alice, One Day At A Time, The Love Boat, Emergency!, Mr. Belvedere, Too Close For Comfort, Strike Force, Santa Barbara and DuckTales to Yes Dear, Jessie, Step by Step, 227, Trapper John M.D., Out Of This World, Rugrats, Recess and Pound Puppies.

His feature film credits range from The Shaggy D.A., Cat from Outer Space, The Revenge of the Red Baron to Fatal Instinct.

The Fairfield show opens with Berachah Valley, a bluegrass band which played music for Mayberry Man, a 2021 film about an arrogant movie star sentenced to attending a week-long Andy Griffith Show festival after being caught speeding. Berachah band member Cathy Baker is a retired Carlisle teacher.

Schell will show Gomer Pyle outtakes and bloopers, tell his favorite stories and answer audience questions.

The show is a fund-raiser for Media Heritage, the Greater Cincinnati broadcasting archives. Tickets ($17) are available at the Fairfield Community Arts Center box office at 513-867-53478.

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.