R.I.P. Claudette Nevins, sitcom wife to Andy Griffith, M*A*S*H guest star and JAG regular

By: H&I Staff     Posted: March 2, 2020, 10:20AM Tags: news, Obituaries

Images: CBS

Despite crafting one of the most beloved characters in the history of television, Andy Griffith struggled to find his feet after taking off his Mayberry sheriff's uniform. Following the conclusion of The Andy Griffith Show in 1968, Griffith set up his own production company, Andy Griffith Enterprises. He was in his early 40s — about the same age Lucille Ball had been when she came to fame on I Love Lucy. He had plenty of career left in him.

Griffith's first television comeback arrived in 1970 with Headmaster. The show had a lot going for it, beyond the superstar, like a Linda Ronstadt–sung theme song and Hogan's Heroes' recently vacated time slot. The biggest change, for Andy fans at least, was the setting. The dramedy cast Southern boy Griffith as Andy Thompson, the head of an elite California private school. 

A strong supporting cast surrounded the star. Jerry Van Dyke portrayed a coach, in a role foreshadowing his long run on Coach. Thompson's wife, played by Claudette Nevins, was an English teacher.

At the time, Nevins was perhaps best known for her work on the daytime soap opera Love of Life.

Despite its assets, Headmaster flopped, drubbed in the ratings by The Partridge Family.

Nevins later made a memorable guest appearance on M*A*S*H in the episode "Mr. and Mrs. Who?" In that eighth-season story, Winchester marries a woman (Nevins) in a drunken haze on a trip to Tokyo. 

Nevins on M*A*S*H

Small roles on shows such as Barnaby JonesCHiPs, Police Squad! and L.A. Law followed. 

In the 1990s, Nevins landed two recurring roles on hit shows, Melrose Place and JAG. On the former, she was Constance Fielding, an elder relative of Matt Fielding (Doug Savant). On the latter military drama, she was Mrs. Porter Webb, mother to CIA special agent Clayton Webb (Steven Culp).

Nevins died on February 20, her family announced, as reported by The Hollywood Reporter. She was 82.