Code-Switching Actors

Ken Berry with cast members of Mama’s Family

Many actors get type cast. They tend to play the same character or the same types of characters throughout their careers. It can be hard for them to find work if they try to seek other roles. But it’s a great testament to an actor’s abilities when he or she can change up and play different types of characters.

Ken Berry and cast members of Mayberry R.F.D.

One such person I’ve thought of recently is Ken Berry. Most people know him as Vinton Harper from the TV show, Mama’s Family. Vinton is a “dopey, buffoonish, and … childish” son of the lead character, Thelma Harper. He played a similar type of dim-witted character in the show, F Troop as Captain Wilton Parmenter.  That’s the kind of role he played in most of the TV shows or movies he was in. One that was different than the others is his role as Sam Jones in Mayberry RFD. He was a straight man. In case you don’t know, the term “straight man” is a serious character in a comedy show who keeps his composure and usually offers some semblance of order, an even-tempered personae. It’s much like Andy was to Barney. Andy was the straight man. That was Sam too on the Andy Griffith Show then later on Mayberry R.F.D..

Ken Berry with cast members of F. Troop

I liked seeing him in such a serious role even though it was a sitcom. Too bad he didn’t get more serious, straight man roles. But that’s how it is for many actors. They get stuck in the same kinds of roles and that’s how they are forever remembered and those are the only types of roles many of them get. That’s why actors should be selective when they are considering a role. Like any job, you sometimes take whatever comes along so you can get paid. But doing that can have negative consequences.













About Will S.

A nouveau Taurus, writing about my view of the world around me. From politics, to social problem, to public corruption, music and movies to pretty much anything I feel inspired to write. We all need meaningful activities and hobbies to add value to our lives and take our minds away from the stress of the real world. Blogging does that for me.
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