Francis Bavier began acting in 1925 as a member of various stage productions, and later toured overseas with the USO. In 1951, she began a 365-performance run on Broadway in "Point of No Return", starring Henry Fonda. Soon after that she made the jump to the silver screen in The Day the Earth Stood Still. Several features followed, as well as regular roles on television's The Great Life and The Eve Arden Show. Additionally, she appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Perry Mason and Wagon Train.
Aunt Bee became Bavier's signature role. She has the unique distinction of being the only player to endure the entire run of The Andy Griffith Show, and remaining through part of Mayberry, R.F.D. Bavier retired to Siler City, North Carolina after leaving Mayberry, though she did subsequently appear in several commercials and the children's movie Benji in 1974. She died on December 6, 1989 at the age of 87.