The Opening Song Was Written In 15 Minutes
One of the most memorable television theme songs in the history of T.V. is that of “The Andy Griffith Show.” However most of us knew it simply as a tune that was whistled, and not one with full lyrics. We didn’t even know it had a title! Well, it does, and it’s called “Fishin’ Hole.” And the lyrics are just as catchy as that whistled opener. But who could sing it better than the show’s protagonist? That’s right, no one, which is why Andy Griffith himself originally sang the opening song!
Griffith recorded a fully sung version of the show’s theme which was written in under 15 minutes by Herbert Spencer and Earle Hagen. Everett Sloane, known for composing television theme songs for “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Mod Squad,” and “I Spy,” wrote the lyrics to “Fishin’ Hole,” with a simplicity meant to reflect the nature of the show.
Andy and Don Were Pals In Real Life
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were best friends both on the show and off. Their long lasting friendship began in the mid-’50s when the two met in New York City while co-starring in the Broadway play ‘No Time for Sergeants’. It was Don’s Broadway debut where he played Corporal Manual Dexterity opposite Andy, who was leading the show as country bumpkin, Will Stockdale.
The two comrades stayed close friends for the rest of their lives. Andy even knelt beside Don Knotts’ bedside during his last days in 2006. Hollywood friendships don’t get any more authentic than these two! This duo is one for the ages.
Andy Griffith Never Was Comfortable With Onscreen Romance
Andy had several love interests throughout the show's run, but his first romantic relationship on the series was Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue), a newcomer to town who worked in her uncle's drug store.
Elinor Donahue was featured in 12 episodes of the show as pharmacist Ellie Walker. She even got a mention in the opening credits! Elinor's character was intended to be a love interest for Sheriff Andy Taylor, but after just one season, Donahue decided to ask for a release from her three-year contract. The reason for her decision was that she never felt true chemistry with Andy Griffith. Griffith later admitted that it was his fault because he had a hard time showing affection on screen, and as a result, the relationship did not appear to be real or believable. So Elinor's character disappeared without explanation to the viewer.
Opie Didn’t Actually Throw the Rock In the Lake
When the cast and crew of The Andy Griffith Show ventured out to Franklin Canyon, near Beverly Hills, to film the opening credits in summer 1960, their plan called for Andy and Opie to amble along a dirt road with their fishing poles and for Opie to pause and hurl a rock into the water. Alas, six-year-old Ron Howard could not throw quite so well as he could act.
Little Ron Howard was only six years old at the time that they filmed the opening credits scene, so when the time came for him to throw the rock into the lake his small arms couldn’t hurl it far enough. They needed to come up with a solution to either get him to throw the rock far enough or have someone else do it. They came up with a great solution - a prop man hid in the bushes and threw the rock that made the splash, timing it perfectly to look as if Opie actually threw it. TV magic at its finest!
The Real Reason Barney Fife Never Really Showed Up After Season 5
When the show first premiered, Andy informed Don Knotts and the rest of the Griffith Show cast that he only planned on the show running for five seasons so they each signed contracts for five years. At the end of those five years, when season five commenced, Don began looking for other work and quickly found it.
Knotts agreed to a five-picture film deal with Universal. Then, sponsors and network staff persuaded Andy to return for a sixth season. (And a seventh, and an eighth, as it turned out.)
Don Knotts Was Sent Bullets Of All Kinds
One of the classic running jokes in The Andy Griffith Show is that Barney is never allowed to carry more than one bullet in his gun. This was because Barney couldn't be trusted with a loaded gun (for fear that he’d shoot his own foot or worse) and Andy would relegate him to a single bullet, which he would often have to take away.
In the spirit of an ongoing inside joke, apparently fans of the show from all over the country felt so bad for him that they sent Don Knotts actual bullets! It was both a chide and a gesture of endearment. “Bullet for my Valentine,” anyone?
Many Cars Were Used In The Show
Just like the music in “The Andy Griffith Show,” cars also played an important role in the show. In fact, several of their best episodes were written around the cars and the people who were driving them. A number of awesome cars were featured in the Andy Griffith Show over its nine year run, but Griffith's cop cars were always Ford Galaxie 500 sedans. Fords were increasingly featured as the show reached its later years, undoubtedly because of a sponsorship from Ford Motor Company.
The car company would supply them with a car every time a new model would be released. This resulted in the show ending up with 10 cars in total, an average of more than one car per season!
Mayberry Was Mount Airy
The Andy Griffith Show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California. Woodsy locales were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon. However, Mayberry, the quaint hometown made famous on The Andy Griffith Show, has long been considered a fictional place, but the real Mayberry does exist. The TV-show town was actually based on Andy Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, NC.
Though Andy Griffith denied it for years, in the episode “A Black Day For Mayberry” you can clearly see the words Mount Airy on the side of a phonebook sitting on the sheriff’s desk.
Don Knott’s Favorite Episode Was the Pickle Episode
“The Pickle Story” is a regular fan favorite, and for good reason. In fact, this episode was also voted the #1 favorite of the entire series. Aunt Bee may have been a good cook, but her batch of pickles was a far removal from her regular work. She just couldn't seem to make a tasty pickle. According to Clara Johnson, twelve-time pickle champion, she blames the offensive qualities of Bee’s pickles on too heavy a brine, not enough parsley in the vinegar, old, soft cucumbers, stale spices, and not boiling the vinegar enough.
Barney and Andy are forced to eat and get rid of as many jars as possible since they never had the heart to tell her they tasted terrible. Don Knotts stated how much fun it was to film that episode, which undoubtedly played into all the laughs they got from it!
Andy Wasn’t the Only Prankster In Town
Andy loved his practical jokes. As the undisputed boss of the Andy Griffith Show, he set a festive, frolicsome tone. And he loved to stage practical jokes, particularly when they targeted Don Knotts. In fact, Andy teased Don daily simply by calling him “Jess,” which was short for Jesse, Don’s first name, because he knew Don didn’t like it. For all his on-screen energy, Don Knotts was surprisingly dignified and reserved off camera, and Andy delighted in shattering his friend’s calm. He sometimes interrupted Don’s nap by dropping a metal film canister onto the floor.
Andy Griffith may have inspired others to partake in his jokester antics, because the cast and crew always tried to respond to his pranks with pranks of their own. One of the most legendary examples was when the crew stole his shoes from the set, forcing him to wear his sheriff boots home. They did eventually return his shoes to him at the end of the season….bronzed.
Nickname On and Off the Screen
Nicknames– they’re common in the entertainment industry. Not even Andy himself could escape the nickname train. Throughout the show, Barney commonly referred to Andy as “Ange”.
Don Knotts allotted that nickname to him as a mashup of his first and last names “Andy” and “Griffith”, and he was so fond of it that he would just habitually use it during filming, honoring the actor for who he truly was. This little-known tidbit only became obvious if you knew what you were looking for, with many fans confusing “Ange” for “And.” While Barney often called Andy “Ange” on the show as his nickname, what’s really interesting is that Knotts also called Griffith that in real life.
A Stroke of Brilliance
Howard McNear, who played Floyd the Barber, required a great deal of assistance on-set after suffering a devastating stroke mid-way through the series. Because he had suffered a stroke, Howard had trouble standing. The show’s creators decided to come up with a clever way to aid him in his role. They constructed props for Howard to lean on during his scenes, giving the illusion that he was in an upright position. A special stool was built to make it appear Floyd was standing when he was in fact half-sitting or leaning. Floyd was also often seen sitting in his barber chair or sitting on a bench outside his shop.
Howard's stroke also left his left side paralyzed. Watch Floyd closely in later episodes, you'll notice he will never move his left hand.
Don Knotts’ Suit Became a Favorite
Barney Fife donned a salt-and-pepper suit with a red bowtie and a white hat in nearly every formal scene in the show. Barney's Salt and Pepper suit was his nicest suit. He would wear it to dances, social events or on dates.
Barney wore it throughout the entire series; the suit’s first appearance was in the episode 'Irresistable Andy'. It became such a favorite of Don Knotts’ that he also wore it in a few feature length films, such as ‘The Ghost and Mr. Chicken’, ‘The Reluctant Astronaut’, ‘The Incredible Mr. Limpet’, and ‘How to Frame a Figg’.
Andy and Aneta Had a Little Fling of Their Own
Playing lovers in the show sparked a little romance between Andy and Aneta, the actress who played Helen Crump. She was actually only supposed to appear in one episode. Because of this, writers decided to give her a horrible last name for fun. However, little did they know that Aneta Corsaut would give a great performance and become a favorite of the producers!
Aneta Corsaut also became a quick favorite of star Andy Griffith, who soon became smitten with the young actress. Even though Andy was married, the two were said to have had a small fling on the side. This was hush-hush on set, but of course it got out, and the rumor spread like wildfire.
Helen Crump Was Temporary At First
Actress Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show, was originally intended to be a one-and-done character and appear in just one episode. Because of this, the writers decided to give her a horrible last name for fun. However, little did they know that Aneta Corsaut would give a great performance and become a favorite of the producers!
The married Griffith would soon start an affair with Corsaut and also demanded her character become a series regular for the rest of the series!
Andy Was Quite the Prankster
Although his character on the show was never opposed to a harmless little prank, Andy’s jokester abilities extended far beyond his own character. Don Knotts was the usual target of his jokes.
Andy would tease Don by calling him Jess, his real first name, which Knotts hated. Every morning he would greet him with “Good morning, Jess!”
It’s Always February In Floyd’s Shop
Floyd the Barber was the slow-paced, somewhat absent-minded barber in the fictional town of Mayberry. He was first seen in episode #12, "Stranger in Town.” Over the first few seasons, the importance of Floyd the Barber to the series increased. Slowly, McNear changed his delivery of dialogue for Floyd from fast-paced to slower and slower as time went on. Floyd also became more involved in the plots of the various episodes as time went on.
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the calendar in Floyd’s Barbershop is always on February. It’s unknown if this was done intentionally to portray Floyd’s forgetfulness or if it was a real inconsistency.
Andy Owned 50% of the Show
Sheldon Leonard, producer of The Danny Thomas Show, and Danny Thomas hired veteran comedy writer Arthur Stander (who had written many of the "Danny Thomas" episodes) to create a pilot show for Andy Griffith, featuring him as justice of the peace and newspaper editor in a small town. At the time, Broadway, film, and radio star Griffith was interested in attempting a television role, and the William Morris Agency told Leonard that Griffith's rural background and previous rustic characterizations were suited to the part.
When Andy Griffith was offered the show, he had focused predominantly on film and was pretty unfamiliar with television. He only agreed to do the show if he was given rights to 50% of it. After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode. By the time of his death, Andy was worth an estimated $35 million!
Andy Broke His Hand When He Punched a Wall
Most people don’t know that, even though he was constant prankster, Griffith had a fiery temper. In a moment of frustration while filming the second season, Andy punched a wall which ended up fracturing several of his fingers.
Andy Griffith not only broke the set wall, but also his hand! Griffith’s hand had to be heavily bandaged in order to complete filming. To explain his bandaged hand and fit it into the show’s plot, the producers and writers of the show decided to create a small episode backstory in which Andy injured himself while apprehending some rather tough criminals.
Don Knotts Worked Without a Contract
There was a possibility that Barney Fife could have only lasted for one episode! Don Knotts was one of several cast members who showed up on the first day without an actual contract.
After seeing his chemistry with Andy, the producers instantly offered him a one-year contract. We can't even imagine 'The Andy Griffith Show' without Barney Fife.
Floyd Retired On and Off the Screen
After repeated health complications following a stroke, actor Howard McNeal was eventually written out of the show. The last appearance of Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show was in the final episode of the seventh season. It was announced on the series that Floyd had retired because he had earned enough money. Shortly after leaving the show, Howard sadly passed away.
To try to fill in his loss on the series, a new character named Emmett Clark (a fix-it man) was brought in. Emmett (played by veteran character actor Paul Hartman) moved his fix-it shop into Floyd's old barber shop location in Mayberry.
Andy and Barney Were Originally Cousins
Early in the series, Andy and Barney state that they are cousins. The reference was meant to be a joke concerning small town government positions being given to relatives, but when a substantial chemistry formed between the two, their relationship was changed to childhood friends.
The writers used several episodes to muddy the lineage and suggest that Barney may not be directly related to the Taylors. On "Aunt Bee's Invisible Boyfriend", Barney tells Andy, "If she (Aunt Bee) were my aunt, I'd wanna investigate this fella" (no familial Taylor ties). In one porch dialogue, Barney speaks to Andy about buying his folks a septic tank for their anniversary. Andy does not refer to them as aunt and uncle. On several occasions, Aunt Bee reminded Andy that, "he's YOUR friend" (suggesting no blood kin to either Taylor). In another episode, "Cousin Virgil", Andy is introduced to Barney's backward cousin, who is obviously not related to the sheriff. Genetics aside, the two are best friends, having grown up together in Mayberry.
Andy Was Originally Intended To Be the Comic
When the show first aired, the concept was for Andy Griffith to be the comedic lead and the funnyman who made constant jokes concerning the characters. But once Don Knotts proved his natural comedy, it was quickly decided that Barney would be the funnyman to Andy’s straight man. It was discovered that the show was funnier with the roles reversed.
As Griffith maintained in several interviews, "By the second episode, I knew that Don should be funny, and I should play straight". Knotts also revealed in an interview a little trick he did as an actor that was rooted in this special chemistry. Knotts said, "Andy found Barney funny. I think that helped, too. I could see sometimes when Andy’s eyes were just trying to keep from laughing, which would help me try and make it even funnier."
Star Trek Came To Mayberry
Ever wonder what 'The Andy Griffith Show' would look like after an apocalypse? When Star Trek first aired, the show was so underfunded that they were forced to use the set of the town of Mayberry in a few episodes. The lot was used in four Star Trek episodes — "Miri," "The City on the Edge of Forever," "The Return of the Archons" and "A Piece of the Action" — but Mayberry can best be seen in the first two.
William Shatner and Joan Collins can be seen going for a stroll outside of Floyd's barber shop in "The City on the Edge of Forever.""Miri," on the other hand, gives us a glimpse of what Mayberry might look like after an apocalypse. The dilapidated Bartlett Stables in "Miri" shows what was once the stomping ground of Opie.
There Was Actually a Spin-Off
Mayberry R.F.D. is a television series produced as a spin-off and direct continuation of The Andy Griffith Show. When star Andy Griffith decided to leave the series, most of the supporting characters returned for the retitled program, which ran for three seasons (78 episodes) on the CBS Television Network from 1968–1971.
During the final season of The Andy Griffith Show, widow farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) and his young son Mike (Buddy Foster) are introduced and gradually become the show's focus. Sheriff Andy Taylor takes a backseat in the storylines, establishing the new premise. The show's first episode, "Andy and Helen's Wedding", had the highest ratings in recorded television history.Sheriff Taylor and newlywed wife Helen make guest appearances on Mayberry R.F.D. until late 1969 and then relocate with Opie. Mayberry R.F.D. (which stands for Rural Free Delivery) was popular throughout its entire run, but was canceled after its third season in CBS's "rural purge" of 1971.
They Quit While They Were Ahead
So many shows drag on and on, eventually causing audience fatigue. To prevent this from happening to The Andy Griffith Show, the producers made the wise decision to end it after the eighth season. In its entirety, the series never placed lower than seventh in the Neilsen ratings - and the show had the distinct honor of being one of only three shows that ended atop the chart. “I Love Lucy” and “Seinfeld” are the only other two.
On separate occasions, it has been ranked by TV Guide as the 9th-best and 13th-best show in American Television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its 8-season run, co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards.
Andy and Frances Never Struck the Right Chord
Even though Andy Griffith and Aunt Bee had a general fondness for each other on the show, the two never could get along off screen. The reason being, Frances considered herself far too serious of a dramatic actress to play opposite the wisecracking Andy Griffith. His constant joking and pranking got on her nerves on a regular basis.
Andy and Aunt Bee did make amends years later, though, and she called him to apologize for the conflict between them just months before her death. Thankfully, they were able to end on an amicable note.
The Mysterious Mr. Shwump
Mr. Schwump is a Mayberry citizen seen in at least 26 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. He never speaks, however, Andy and Barney frequently address him by name. In the episode "The Fun Girls," Andy says, "Barney, I'm not going to a dance and stand in a stag line with Old Man Schwump."
When the cast and crew were later asked who the actor was that portrayed Mr. Schwump, no one could seem to remember. It is rumored he was a friend of Andy Griffith's who was given a speaking part. However, after freezing up on his lines, he remained silent. He also appeared as an extra in the 1945 film ‘Christmas in Connecticut’.
“That’s the Time!”
Here’s a fun history lesson: there is an old southern phrase, “that’s the time,” which is used numerous times by Andy Griffith throughout the show. The old phrase has several meanings, some of which include “good!” and “okay” and “that’s the right thing to do.”
Bringing this phrase into the show was a subtle way for Griffith to interject his southern upbringing into The Andy Griffith Show. Andy would also include other southern phrases, such as “Nary a thing” (meaning ‘I’m not doing anything’) and “Tick a lock” (Meaning ‘keep your mouth shut’).
Barney Had Multiple Middle Names
Since the series had several writers, some continuity slip-ups are to be expected. An example of this is with the various middle names given for both Barney and Andy.
If you pay close attention, you’ll notice that a wide range of middle names are given to Barney throughout the show. In the episode "Class Reunion", Barney's middle name is Milton, though at other times he is called "Bernard P. Fife". In another episode, where he believes he is the descendant of Nathan Tibbs, a Mayberry Revolutionary hero, he says his name is "Barney 'Tibbs' Fife". Andy jokingly says, "I thought your middle name was Oliver." A similar problem exists with Andy's middle name, which was Jackson on the show (which we see on his high school photo). However, his newborn son's name was Andrew Samuel Taylor Jr. on Mayberry RFD (given to him during a christening).
Griffith Paid Homage To His Real Father In The Intro
When you watch the theme-song reel at the beginning of the show, Andy and his son, Opie, walk to the edge of the lake. This is where Andy gives a nod of approval when the boy throws a rock into the water (which has a secret of its own that you’ll find out about later).
This simple gesture means so much more than meets the eye. As it turns out, Andy Griffith’s actual father would shake his head in the same manner when he showed approval towards Andy. Isn’t that sweet?
Knotts Asked For Part Ownership Of The Show And Griffith Declined
When Griffith came aboard for a sixth season, Knotts agreed to do the same — But of course, there was more to the story.
Andy revealed to Don’s manager decades later, after Don’s death, that in a private meeting midway through season five, Don told Andy he would return to the sitcom — but only if he could have an ownership stake in the production. Andy and his manager owned more than half of the Griffith Show, while Don owned none of it; he was just a salaried employee. As much as Andy loved working with Don, he denied his friend’s request and Don did not return to the show.
Griffith And Knotts Were Opposite Of Their Characters In Real Life
Griffith and Knotts were real-life country boys who had made it to fame as humorists in the 1950s, doing stand-up comedy and eventually working together in the Broadway hit “No Time for Sergeants.” On The Andy Griffith Show, they became a comedy duo for the ages, playing off each other with perfect timing in a series of running gags built on Knotts’s celebrated neuroses, with Griffith as his foil. Andy Griffith was known to be more reserved compared to Barney, who was a goofball half the time (or more).
However, Griffith and Knotts’ off-screen personalities were very different from what people saw on the show. Knotts was actually a pretty serious guy — hard to imagine, right?
One Of The Show’s Biggest Mysteries
Opie is a 6-year-old when the series opens, who lives in the fictional and idealized small, sleepy southern community of Mayberry, North Carolina, with his widowed father, Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), the sheriff of Mayberry County, and his father's spinster aunt, Beatrice "Aunt Bee" Taylor.
Opie’s mom is mentioned only one time during the entire series. In an episode titled “Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee,” Andy becomes nostalgic and he tells Opie how much he had loved the boy’s mother. Viewers never hear anymore about her or even see a photograph. However, in an episode of ‘The Danny Thomas Show’ (which spawned The Andy Griffith Show), Andy relates that she died when Opie was just “the least little speck of a baby.”
Griffith Had Other Work Besides The Show
Andy Griffith was a man of many talents. He was not only an actor, but also a comedian, television producer, southern gospel singer, and writer, whose career spanned seven decades. Although he’s mostly remembered for “The Andy Griffith Show”, he also had a very successful career on Broadway, where he won a Tony Award.
Griffith also played the main character on another television show, ‘Matlock’. Griffith also made other character appearances throughout the years on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman and Fantasy Island, among many others. He also reprised his role as Ben Matlock on Diagnosis: Murder in 1997, and his final guest-starring role was in 2001 in an episode of Dawson's Creek. Andy Griffith passed away in 2012 at the age of 86.
Where Are They Now?
While many of the cast members from The Andy Griffith Show are unfortunately no longer with us, let’s take a look at what the main actors did once the show ended its legendary run. We will be walking you through some amazing highlights from the legendary careers of Ron Howard, Frances Bavier, Jim Nabors, Aneta, Hal Smith, George Lindsey and of course, Don Knotts.
But no other cast member’s post-series life will impress you as much as this next person…
Director Ron Howard
During his time on The Andy Griffith Show, Ron also appeared in the musical film The Music Man (1962) and the comedy film The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). In 1973, he played Steve Bolander in the classic coming of age film American Graffiti (1973). In 1974, Howard became a household name playing teenager Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days, which ran for seven years.
Ron has received many awards for his works, including the National Medal of Arts. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013 and has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. It looks like Opie has done pretty well for himself!
Frances Bavier Becomes a North Carolinian
After The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier opted to stay in North Carolina, versus returning to her native New York City. In 1972, Bavier retired from acting and bought a home in Siler City, North Carolina.
On choosing to live in North Carolina instead of her native New York, Bavier said, "I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees." Bavier never married or had children. According to a 1981 article by Chip Womick, a staff writer of The Courier Tribune, Bavier enthusiastically promoted Christmas and Easter Seal Societies from her Siler City home, and often wrote inspirational letters to fans who sought autographs.
Nabors Comes Out
Jim’s character on The Andy Griffith Show proved popular, and Nabors was given his own spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Nabors was known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle, although he became a popular guest on variety shows which showcased his rich baritone singing voice in the 1960s and 1970s, including two specials of his own in 1969 and 1974. He subsequently recorded numerous albums and singles, most of them containing romantic ballads.
In 2013, Jim publicly came out as gay and married his long-time partner of 38 years. He said, “I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody.”
Aneta Continues Acting
Corsaut had a continuing role as policeman Bumper Morgan's pawn-shop-owner friend on the series The Blue Knight and as Irma Howell in the short-lived series Mrs. G. Goes to College. In the TV series Adam-12, Corsaut portrayed Officer Pete Malloy's girlfriend, Judy. She had a supporting role as Head Nurse Bradley in the 1980s sitcom House Calls, and also appeared in several episodes of Matlock with star Andy Griffith. In addition, Corsaut played the role of nurse Jesse Brewer in 1977 on the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital when long-time portrayer Emily McLaughlin was too ill to work.
Aneta returned for two reunion shows, 1986’s Return to Mayberry and 1993’s The Andy Griffith Show Reunion. She also made appearances on dozens of TV shows, such as Gunsmoke, Rich Man, Poor Man, and The Runaways. She died of cancer in 1995 and was buried in Hollywood.
Smith Lends His Voice
Hal was best known for his role as Otis Campbell, the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show. However, Smith was also active in voice-over roles, having played many characters on various animated shorts, including Owl in the first four original Winnie the Pooh shorts (the first three of which were combined into the feature film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh) and later The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Uncle Tex on The Flintstones, Goliath in Davey and Goliath, and Flintheart Glomgold and Gyro Gearloose on DuckTales, as well as multiple other characters in The Huckleberry Hound Show, The Quick Draw McGraw Show, The Gumby Show, The Jetsons, Top Cat, Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!, Clutch Cargo, Hong Kong Phooey, and many more.
Smith is also known to radio listeners as the original voice of John Avery Whittaker in Adventures in Odyssey. After his wife Louise passed away in 1992, Smith’s health quickly deteriorated. He died of a heart attack in 1994.
A Charitable Fellow
George Lindsey played Gomer Pyle’s bumbling cousin. George was a very generous man, he raised over $1,000,000 for the Alabama Special Olympics through 17 years of the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament in Montgomery, Alabama and another $50,000 for the Alabama Association of Retarded Citizens, and participated as Head Coach for the Winter Games in the Minneapolis, Minnesota Special Olympics National Competition.
He established and perpetuated the George Lindsey Academic Scholarships at University of North Alabama. Lindsey was the 1995 recipient of the Governor's Achievement Award — Alabama Music Hall of Fame. The State of Alabama named the "George Lindsey Highway" in Jasper, Alabama after the actor. In 1998, he established the George Lindsey/UNA Film Festival that takes place at the University of North Alabama annually in the spring. He was the 1997 recipient of the Minnie Pearl Lifetime Achievement Award and the 2007 recipient of the first ICON Award presented by the Nashville Association of Talent Directors. Sadly, he passed away in 2012, at the age of 83.
Barney Fife Moves In
Although Don Knotts was best known as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, Knotts returned to series television in his second most identifiable role, the wacky-but-lovable landlord Ralph Furley on ‘Three’s Company’, alongside John Ritter. The series, which was already an established hit, added Knotts to the cast when the original landlords, Helen Roper and her husband Stanley Roper (a married couple played by Audra Lindley and Norman Fell, respectively) left the series to star in their own short-lived spin-off series (The Ropers).
Don also appeared in many television and film cameos. In 1979, TV Guide ranked him #27 on its 50 Greatest TV Stars of All Time list.
Andy and Don Were Bros for Life
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts were actually lifelong best friends. Their friendship was the most important thing to the both of them. Their long-standing friendship started in New York City when the two acted together in a Broadway play called “No Time for Sergeant” in 1955.
Five years later, the duo was reunited in The Andy Griffith Show, and from then on they were inseparable. Andy was there when Knotts passed away in 2006 at the age of 81 from lung cancer. Sadly, Griffith himself passed away six years later at the age of 86.
Caught in the Act
Remember the fact that the cast and crew of The Andy Griffith Show loved pranking each other? Well, one of the crew members decided to pull a big prank on Andy Griffith at his hotel. The crew member dressed as a waiter in order to get into Andy’s hotel room to surprise him.
The crew member switched Andy’s dinner with a prop from the show, and thought that the actor wouldn’t even see a difference in the food and try to eat the prop. Shockingly, when the crew member walked into the room, he caught Griffith and Aneta in a compromising situation. Talk about backfire!
Little Ronny Howard went on to star in the high profile show ‘Happy Days’ Howard continued making films during this time, appearing in the western film The Shootist (1976), and the comedy film Grand Theft Auto (1977), which he also directed.
In 1980, Howard left Happy Days to focus solely on directing. His films include the science-fiction/fantasy film Cocoon (1985), the historical docudrama Apollo 13 (1995) (earning him the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures), the biographical drama A Beautiful Mind (2001) (earning him the Academy Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture), the thriller The Da Vinci Code (2006), the historical drama Frost/Nixon (2008) (nominated for Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards) and Solo: A Star Wars Story(2018). Howard has received many awards and honors. He even had an asteroid named after him, Asteroid 12561 Howard!
In 1998, Andy Griffith said that Frances had called him shortly before her death and apologized for “being ‘difficult’ during the series’ run".
Sadly, she died at age 86, just 8 days before her 87th birthday.
Aneta Corsaut had a continuing role as policeman Bumper Morgan's pawn-shop-owner friend on the series The Blue Knight and as Irma Howell in the short-lived series Mrs. G. Goes to College. In the TV series Adam-12, Corsaut portrayed Officer Pete Malloy's girlfriend, Judy. She had a supporting role as Head Nurse Bradley in the 1980s sitcom House Calls, and also appeared in several episodes of Matlock with star Andy Griffith. In addition, Corsaut played the role of nurse Jesse Brewer in 1977 on the long-running ABC soap opera General Hospital when long-time portrayer Emily McLaughlin was too ill to work.
Aneta returned for two reunion shows, 1986’s Return to Mayberry and 1993’s The Andy Griffith Show Reunion. She also made appearances on many other TV shows. Aneta died in 1995 and is buried in Hollywood.
Friends Until the End
Andy Griffith visited Don in the hospital right before his death. Andy later recalled his final words to his dear friend: “I know that he could hear me, and we all believe that he could hear my voice,” said Andy. “I told him that I loved him, and I told him…I said ‘Jess [Don’s real first name], breathe. You’ve gotta make this, you’ve gotta pull through. Breathe.’ And you know, I saw his chest heave, and I said ‘That’s a boy. Keep breathing. Just keep breathing.’ And his shoulder moved, so I believe he heard my voice.”
Knotts died at age 81 on February 24, 2006, at the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, California from pulmonary and respiratory complications of pneumonia related to lung cancer. He had been undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in the months before his death, but he returned home after he had reportedly been feeling better. His body was buried at Westwood Memorial Park in Los Angeles.
Helping His Audience
Almost 50 years after the show’s premiere, Andy Griffith came back, and just like old times, he was offering sage advice to the American public. This time, however, his advice isn’t about how to maneuver life in a small fictional town, it’s about how seniors will benefit from changes in Medicare now and for years to come.
In July 2010, Andy Griffith appeared in commercials across the country to talk about how the Affordable Care Act benefits seniors and those with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare.
A Sad Time for Fans
In 1983, Andy became ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but made a full recovery. Nearly 30 years later, Andy Griffith died on July 3, 2012, from a heart attack at the age of 86. He passed away at his coastal home in Manteo, Roanoke Island, in Dare County, North Carolina. Sadly, Andy’s fans didn’t have much time to grieve.
Andy Griffith’s family requested that his body be immediately buried there, and within hours of his death, the famed TV and movie star was interred. Memorials were given but only after he had already been laid to rest.
The Nirvana Connection
Did you know that iconic grunge musician Kurt Cobain wrote a song called Floyd the Barber for the band's ‘Bleach’ album? The people mentioned in this song are all based on characters from The Andy Griffith Show. Kurt Cobain wrote the song thinking, "What if all these people were mad, sadistic, killers?" The guy in the song went into the barber shop for a shave, but instead gets urinated on by Floyd, cut up by Opie and Aunt Bea, and suffocated by Andy Griffith. The song was much darker than the show; many of the residents of Mayberry (including Floyd) murder Cobain in it.
The band was known as Skid Row when they first started playing this in 1987. They recorded it for the first time at KAOS, the student-run radio station of Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington.
Andy Griffith’s Legacy
Known for his southern drawl, his folksy-friendly characters, and his gruff, gregarious voice, Griffith was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead roles of Andy Taylor and Ben Matlock.
Griffith received many awards throughout his lifetime, including being inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. To this day, Andy remains one of the most beloved stars of his generation.
The Only Speaking Role
While there were many African Americans who appeared in the background scenes of The Andy Griffith Show, they were all only extras with non-speaking roles. However, Rockne Tarkington broke that streak when he appeared on the episode “Opie’s Piano Lesson.” With his spoken lines, he became the first and only black actor to do so during the series’ entire run.
He also played recurring roles on the TV series "The Banana Splits Adventure Hour" and "Matt Houston". His film appearances include Major Dundee, The Great White Hope, Beware the Blob, National Lampoon's Movie Madness, The Ice Pirates and Wyatt Earp.
Andy and Opie’s Characters Were Around Before the Show Premiered
The Andy Griffith Show did not debut until October 1960. Nonetheless, the characters of Andy and Opie first appeared on Make Room for Daddy in February, 1960. Both shows were produced by Danny Thomas.
The 7th Season episode of Make Room for Daddy served as the pilot for its spin-off series The Andy Griffith Show. In the episode, Danny went past a stop sign in the small town of Mayberry, because there was no crossroad. Sheriff Andy Taylor comes and arrests Danny. He said the town council had decided to make a crossroad there, but there was only enough money for a stop sign. Danny demands to see the Justice of the Peace. In response, Andy takes out a sign and says he's the Justice of the Peace.
The Real-life Father/Son Relationship of Ron Howard
Ron Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1954. He was the elder son of Jean Speegle Howard, an actress, and Rance Howard, a director, writer, and actor. Ron Howard followed in his dad’s footsteps to become an actor. It was also well known that he apparently had a great relationship with his dad.
Howard later revealed that Andy and Opie’s relationship was based on the influence that his dad had on him in real life. Additionally, Rance (Ron’s father) had appeared on the Andy Griffith Show multiple times having various guest roles.
The Operator Who Never Slept or Went Home
The character Sarah was the telephone operator on The Andy Griffith Show. Her last name was never revealed and she appeared to always be on duty. She is never seen on The Andy Griffith Show, however, her name is frequently spoken by many other characters while placing phone calls. She often eavesdrops on calls and chats while she's putting calls through.
While she was never seen on camera, her voice was distinctive enough to always know it was her. This made for a good running joke where her chattiness could get in the way of Andy's business, but Griffith was always a good sport about it, getting through the small talk to take care of whatever that day's trouble entailed.
Andy’s House Address is Still a Mystery
The Taylors live in the same house in every episode of The Andy Griffith Show, but over the course of the series, several different addresses were given for the location of Andy’s home. While the Taylors have never moved, in one episode, Aunt Bee tells someone that their address is 332 Maple Road, while in a different episode Barney tells an investigator that Andy’s address is 24 Elm Street.
At some point, Andy notes the address as 14 Maple Road. Some say that last one must be correct, because that's the only one that Andy actually gives himself.
One of The Show’s Principal Directors Was on the 50's Blacklist
In the 1950’s, Coby Ruskin was charged with being a Communist sympathizer, and he was banned from Hollywood. That accusation was made by the later-discredited “Red Channels” publication which fed on American fears caused by the Cold War. For a short time, Ruskin had to work in England to make a living.
Coby Ruskin directed eighteen episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and 92 episodes of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. He also directed episodes of The Bob Newhart Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Julia, The Bill Cosby Show, The Doris Day Show, Love, American Style, Here's Lucy and Sanford and Son.
Andy Griffith Was Buried Just Hours After Passing Away
July 3, 2012 was a very sad day for fans when the much loved star Andy Griffith passed away, and what's worse, they didn’t have much time to mourn him. He passed away in his home in North Carolina.
Andy Griffith’s family requested that his body be immediately buried in Roanoke Island, North Carolina. Within hours of his death, the famed TV and movie star was interred. Memorials were given but only after he had already been laid to rest.
Griffith Was a Southern Gospel Singer
Andy Griffith studied music, so it might not surprise many of his fans to learn that he was a southern gospel singer. Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face in the Crowd and in many episodes of both The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. In addition to his recordings of comic monologues in the 1950s, he made an album of upbeat country and gospel tunes during the run of The Andy Griffith Show, which included a version of the show's theme sung by Griffith under the title "The Fishin' Hole". In recent years, he recorded successful albums of classic Christian hymns for Sparrow Records.
His most successful was the release I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns (1996), which was certified platinum by the RIAA. The album won Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album at the 1997 Grammy Awards. Griffith also appeared in country singer Brad Paisley's music video "Waitin' on a Woman" in 2008.
Andy Griffith sued Andy Griffith
The actor Andy Griffith sued another man named Andy Griffith in 2006! William Fenrick of Platteville, Wisconsin, legally changed his name to Andrew Jackson Griffith and ran, unsuccessfully, for sheriff of Grant County in November 2006. Subsequently, actor Griffith filed a lawsuit against Fenrick, asserting that he violated trademark, copyright, and privacy laws by changing his name for the "sole purpose of taking advantage of Griffith's fame in an attempt to gain votes."
On May 4, 2007, US District Court Judge John C. Shabaz ruled that Fenrick did not violate federal trademark law because he did not use the Griffith name in a commercial transaction, but instead in order "to seek elective office”, a fundamental First Amendment protected speech.
Continuity Errors Ran Rampant
Mayberry was the perfect little all-American town. Well, nearly perfect. Like any television show operating on a fixed schedule and budget, The Andy Griffith Show let many minor goofs slip by on screen. Back in the 1960s, especially in black and white, momentary mistakes like the shadow of a boom mic or an actor's visible tape marks on the floor were tough to spot. Now that the classic sitcom can be seen in crisp, beautiful digital images, these little errors are easier to notice.
Throughout the series, reflections of the camera crew can be briefly glimpsed in Mayberry's storefronts. Chalk and tape marks can often be caught. Re-filming is expensive, and many TV shows at the time didn’t employ full-time continuity directors. There’s a great example from episode 3 of season 3. When the new mayor is nearly attacked by a bear, he starts climbing up a tree. In the shot of the bear rushing toward the camera, its animal trainer can clearly be seen releasing the animal.