Things You Never Knew About The Andy Griffith Show

Everybody loved The Andy Griffiths Show back in the 1960s and still enjoy repeats today. It was the dreamy life in a small Southern town, run by a very handsome and inspirational sheriff, his kooky sidekick, his mischevious son and well-respected Aunt. The stories were always uplifting and humorous, but sometimes behind the scenes was a little more exciting than the slow-moving Southern town was.
#1 Don Knotts And Andy Griffith: Best Friends Forever
Cast members Don Knotts and Andy Griffith were best friends in real life. They both had similar upbringings and actually meeting on Broadway while cast in the play No Time for Sergeants and their friendship lasted for the rest of their days. One of they ways they showed their friendship was by pranking one another, and sometimes they involved other Andy Griffith Show cast members.

%image_alt%

#2 Anything For A Laugh
Andy was at Don’s bedside when he passed away in 2006. Andy died only six years later, at the age of 86. Friends say their playing gags and pranks on one another was what kept them close and active for so many years. Andy would often call Don,”Jesse’ or Jess, just to irritate him, because that was his real name. To get back at him, Don and the cast would steal Andys shoes often and force him to leave the set in his sheriff’s boots from wardrobe.

%image_alt%

#3 Interesting Opie Facts
One of the most memorable opening scenes in television history is the opening to The Andy Griffith Show. Andy is whistling the song while he and son Opie, played by Ron Howard, while they walk along to go fishing. On their way, Opie is shown to toss rocks into the lake. This was only a case of movie magic, however, as little Opie was not strong enough to throw the stones such a distance since Ron was only 6 years old at the time. After many takes a prop man hid in the bushes and threw the stone for Opie.

%image_alt%
#4 Andy Griffith’s Scandalous Affair
Andy had an affair with on-screen girlfriend Helen Crump, played by Aneta Corsaut. She was only supposed to be in one episode, which is why they gave her such a weird name, but Andy grew fond of her and she was added as a regular. Andy was married at the time and fans were shocked when the scandal broke of his affair with Aneta. Andy ultimately got a orce, though he didn’t hook up with Aneta long term. By the end of his lifetime had been married three separate times.

%image_alt%

#5 It Takes Chemistry To Deal With Andy
Andy claimed he had difficulty showing emotion while filming, but when the camera was off he had no trouble. In a scene where the cast was supposed to deliver a meal to his hotel room, they opened to door and found Andy and Aneta in a compromising position. Although the affair was kept mostly secret it was still somewhat known around Hollywood at the time. It is also the reason why Elinor Donahue stopped working on the show after one season, claiming there was no on-screen chemistry even thought the audience loved them together.

%image_alt%

#6 The Casts Favorite Episodes
All of the cast members had their own favorite episodes. Andy Griffith’s was “Barney’s First Car.” Ron Howard’s favorite episode was called “The Ball Game” which was written by his father actor Rance Howard. Rance actually wrote and acted in five other episodes as well. Many fans love the episode titled “The Pickle Story,” which also happens to be Don Knotts favorite. This episode centers on a batch of pickles made by Aunt Bee that was remarkably disgusting. Barney even calls them “kerosene cucumbers!” Of course, as events unfold, Andy and Barney have to eat them.

%image_alt%
#7 The Ratings Were Insane
Like several hit shows, The Andy Griffith Show stopped filming and went off the air while at the height of it’s popularity. Only several other shows have done this throughout television history. They are I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. The Andy Griffith Show still continues to play re-runs until this day! The theme song was even a major radio hit and it was just whistling. There is an actual theme song called The Fishin’ Hole. The original version actually has lyrics but the producers of the show decided they like it better when it was whistled. Both can be found on YouTube and are very interesting.

%image_alt%

#8 Ron Howard
One of television’s most beloved child actors was Ron Howard. He also went on to continue his stardom in later years. You may know him as Richie on Happy Days or for his directing of such hit films as Cocoon and Apollo 13. He has been given many various awards over the years including the National Medal of Arts, he was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame, and he has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Rance Howard and Jean Howard, his mother, and father were both actors, as well as his brother. Now his own daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, is an actress following in her family’s footsteps and has had such notable roles as starring in The Village and one of the Twilight films.

%image_alt%

#9 Frances Bavier
Andy didn’t get along with Aunt Bee, played by Francis Bavier, who was said to be a bit of pretentious personality and considered herself a film actress. She was from New York City and had been born into wealth, she attended both the prestigious Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Allegedly Frances and Andy had quite the tense relationship, Andy loved to joke Frances complained a lot that he was holding up the schedule with is “foolishness”. When the show ended, she never went back to her roots. She remained in North Carolina, where The Andy Griffith Show was shot. The town had become her home and she had fallen in love with it. Before Frances passed away in 1989, she called Andy Griffith and apologized to him for being difficult during filming. Frances passed away at age 86.

%image_alt%


#10 The Crazy Pyle Cousins
Jim Nabors and George Lindsey played goofy cousins Gomer and Goober Pyle. After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Jim Nabors starred in a spin-off feature the famous character Gomer, Gomer Pyle USMC, which also a huge ratings hit for CBS. Originally George Lindsay had tried out for the part of Gomer but lost out to Nabors. His character stayed on for the other spin-off, Mayberry RFD and he also went ton to star as a regular on Hee Haw. George Lindsey passed away in 2012, at the age of 83.

%image_alt%

#11 Barney Fife
Arguably the most memorable television character ever on TV, Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts, almost didn’t make the show. He was written in as a one-time character by old pal, Andy Griffith, and the audience loved him so much that they kept him on. The rest, they say, is history! Originally, Andy was going to be the funny one but it quickly became obvious that that role belonged to Don Knotts. He, of course, went on to play other iconic roles like the lovable but clueless landlord Ralph Furley on Three’s Company in the 1970s. He also had a steam of his own films after leaving the series including The Incredible Mr Limpet and The Reluctant Astronaut.

%image_alt%

#12 Barney Fife Trivia
On the show, Andy only allowed the character of Barney Fife to carry one bullet because he did not trust him with any more, much less a full barrel. In response to this, fans across the country mailed in bullets to Don Knotts. When not in uniform, Barney always was seen in his Sunday Best, an outfit that was accompanied by a white straw fedora with a salt-n-pepper pattern coat and a red bow tie. He loved the suit so much he wore it in his films like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and How to Frame a Figg.

%image_alt%
#13 Sheriff Andy Taylor
Andy continued acting after the show ended but was never the success he was with Andy Taylor in Mayberry. He even resorted to doing commercials for healthcare products. Then Matlock came along and appealed to an older audience, the people who followed him from the Andy Griffith Show, and he was renewed as a television icon. Not long before his run on Matlock he had become ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome but was able to fully recover. Andy Griffith passed away in 2012 of a heart attack and was buried on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was buried only hours after he passed away, and memorials had to be held after his interment.

%image_alt%

#14 Andy Was a Well-Known Democrat
Despite his Southern upbringing and attitudes on the show, in real life, Andy was a militant Democrat. He supported every democratic cause and election through his lifetime. Andy also received multiple awards throughout his lifetime, including an induction into the Television Hall of Fame and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He was and forever will be one of the most loved stars of his generation.

%image_alt%

#15 The Mysterious Unknown Actor
A regularly occurring character by the name of Mister Schwamp would pop up in random episodes. He appeared to be a man of middle age, with dark hair that might have been a hairpiece. He was almost always seen sitting on a park bench or you could spot him in the crowd. Andy or Barney would say hello to him in the scenes, and the character never spoke but would respond with a nod and a smile. He even appeared in several episodes of the spin-off “Gomer Pyle: USMC.” Now here is the creepy part; to this very day, no one knows who played Mr. Schwamp!

%image_alt%
#16 Floyd The Barber And His Health Problems
Howard McNear played the loveable Floyd the Barber. During the show, Howard McNear suffered a stroke, so the show had to take creative measures for him to continue on as he had become one of the most popular characters behind Barney. He was having trouble standing so they often showed him sitting in his barber’s chair or leaning against something. The character Floyd ultimately had to be retired from the show, with a storyline where he happily retired making enough money from his barber business. Not long after leaving the show, McNear died of a stroke in 1969. The show replaced his character with a fix-it-man named Emmett Clark, played by the actor Paul Hartman.

%image_alt%

#17 A Television First
Very few African-Americans were seen on television during this time. They were rarely even used in the background of scenes, but on The Andy Griffith Show, they made a ‘first’ when they cast black actor Rockne Tarkington in a speaking role as Opie’s football coach in the episode called “Opie’s Piano Lesson”. He was the only Black actor to have lines throughout the entire series of The Andy Griffith Show. He continued to act for many years, including in TV shows and Blaxploitation films of the 1970s.

%image_alt%

#18 Real-Life Nods To Nicknames And Hometowns
If you pay attention during the show you will notice that Barney usually calls Andy by the nickname Ange. This is actually a real life nickname of Andy Griffith, he combined both Andy and Griffith to get the name, kind of like the Brangelina of its day, only for one person. The nickname became such a habit that they decided to use it throughout filming as well.

While Andy Griffith was from North Carolina, he always denied that the fictional town Mayberry was based on his hometown of Mount Airy. However, in one episode, called A Black Day for Mayberry, the character of Barney picks up a phone book that is sitting on the Sheriff’s desk and flips through the pages. On the phone book’s cover you can make out the words “Mount Airy.” It was allegedly the real phone book for Mount Airy, North Carolina.

%image_alt%


#19 A Tribute To His Dad
In the opening credits, when Andy and Opie are walking together, Andy gives Opie a head shake, Andy took this from his own father. Andy Griffith’s real father would shake his head to gesture nice work or good job. Andy felt like this was a really heartfelt tribute to his own father. Another interesting Andy fact is that Andy Griffith was a southern gospel singer. He even showcased the talent in several of his roles.

%image_alt%

#20 Random References In Popular Culture
A long time and many galaxies ago, Star Trek was starting out as new and very poorly funded show. They were so underfunded that they actually used the set of Mayberry to film various scenes. If you look closely you will recognize Mayberry in the episodes Miri and City on the Edge of Forever. You can see the Mayberry Courthouse, Walkers Drugstore, and Floyd’s Barber Shop during the scenes when Captain Kirk is walking with Edith Keeler.

%image_alt%

#21 They Were Cousins For A Brief Period
Having a good memory or paying attention to detail may have helped when it comes to this detail. During the first three shows, there was a small detail that producers introduced into the series. For the first three episodes, Andy Taylor and Barney Fife were cousins. It was only mentioned and maintained for the episodes “The New Housekeeper,” “The Manhunt,” and “Runaway Kid.” Then for some reason, the producers wanted to ax the idea of them being family. They hoped no one would notice.

%image_alt%
#22 Keep It In The South
There are shows where the premise of the show has largely to do with the area of where the show is located. For instance, the show Silicon Valley is based around the actual Silicon Valley. And with that territory, it would be easier and make more sense if the actors in the show were from that area as well. With this show focusing on life in the south, only two characters are really from the south. Those two were Andy Griffith and Jim Nabors. Southern fans were not happy about this and demanded more characters with authenticity.

%image_alt%

#23 Rumor Gone Wrong
In the ’60s, a gay character would not have sat well with viewers. This was back in time when things were different and how people viewed differences in one another was extremely harsh. Jim Nabors did not openly hide he was homosexual but he did not actively acknowledge it either. Once the show had been off year for a few years, the rumor of Rock Hudson and Nabors being a couple started to swirl around. The rumor was that the two were actually married. This rumor was so horribly wrong that the two never spoke to each other again. But Nabors did come out later on and married his long-time partner many years later.

%image_alt%

#24 Nip The Contract InThe Bud
Don Knotts had a dispute of re-signing which led him to make a strong decision. There were certain terms Knotts had to agree with on the new contract but he did not see eye to eye with them so he ended up quitting the show. The same show he won five Emmy’s from. That must have been something nasty on that contract because insiders say it wasn’t about the money, as he was the highest paid actor on the show when the contract dispute happened. The following year he released three different major motion pictures.

%image_alt%


#25 Always Up To Date
If you were to pay attention to minor details then you might have noticed this one. Throughout the span of the series, there was a total of ten squad cars. This was because as soon as ford came out with a new model of the car called the Galaxie, they just shipped one over. The cars would be seamlessly planted into the show. This was one way the show stayed relevant but in a way that many viewers did not notice all that well. Ask a true fan if the squad car ever changed and they might admit that they have no clue.

%image_alt%

#26 Trial And Error With The Actors
As with Barney, there was a list of characters who were not meant to be on the show full time. They were only meant to make an appearance for an episode maybe two. Basically, actors had no guarantee that they would be around on the show for an extended time and that went for the main characters as well. Think about the character Otis Campbell who was the town drunk. This fact was even true for him. Tunes changed after the first day of shooting when producer Aaron Ruben took him aside and said “Hal, this might develop into quite a part for you.” They were impressed, but he still had to keep working hard in order to keep his job.

%image_alt%

#27 Andy Griffith Changed Ron Howard’s Life
Having a positive influence in life can take you a long way. That goes for daughters and mothers, sons and fathers, and anything else in between. Since Ron Howard was on the show at such a young age, the fact that this show, and Griffith himself, changed his life so drastically is not at all surprising. Howard spoke out on how Andy impacted his life and said, “He treated me really well, but he made it a learning experience, not in a stern, taskmaster kind of a way, but I was really allowed a real insight into creativity and how things work and why some scenes were funny and others weren’t. That insight has served me really well over the years.”

%image_alt%
#28 Don Knotts Was Anxious
A hypochondriac is someone who extremely anxious about their heath. They constantly think they are dying and have a bad habit of diagnosing themselves (incorrectly) with all kinds of diseases. In a general sense, people are already somewhat concerned with their health and that can lead them to act in certain ways and changing the way they live. Someone who is extremely worried about their health is just a whole new level. Don Knotts was a hypochondriac. He always felt that he was inferior. One of the offset actions he would take part in is spending several days hiding in his bed prior to a performance.

%image_alt%

#29 Ownership at 50
When the show was created by Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas, Andy Griffith must have seen dollar signs. Andy was not into TV at that point but was spending his energies on films such as No Time For Sergeants and A Face in the Crowd. Well, not only did he agree to star in the show but he got himself half ownership of it. Having half of the stake would lead to a later disagreement between him and his friend Knotts. As mentioned earlier, Knotts left the show because of a disagreement with the contract but he agreed to come back on one condition. That condition was that he have some of the stakes in the show. Andy thought he wanted some of his shares and easily told him no.

%image_alt%

#30 Multi-Talented Man
Andy Griffith was more than an actor. The man was a great musician as well. You often times see a lot of people switching from acting to music or vice versa. A common example of that is Miley Cyrus or even Will Smith. Being an entertainer means just that, entertain the people! While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Andy majored in music. Andy was a southern gospel singer. Yes, a southern gospel singer. This was an art of his he found out he was good at during acting. His role in A Face in the Crowd is what notably made him discover this skill.

%image_alt%


#31 Suing Oneself And Other Troubles
In the end, there was a reason this show ended at number one on the ratings. It was a great show that taught many life lessons. These lessons include the fact that family always needs each other, it’s important to give people the opportunity to learn something new, and you everyone can learn from children. That is just to name a few. The show had its fair share of troubles and secrets that we uncovered but what show does not? Andy even had to sue a man who was running for office in Wisconsin for changing his name to Sherrif Andy Taylor in 2006. He lost the suit, and now the guy has that moniker for life unless he switches it again. He lost the election as well. How’s that for behind the scenes troubles?

%image_alt%