Kenneth, born and raised in the South, resides in Hamilton, Alabama. He enjoys sharing his unique perspectives on life through his writing.
The Andy Griffith Show was an American sitcom television series airing on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968. The show had a total of 249 half-hour episodes spanning over eight seasons—159 in black and white and 90 in color. The series spuratically-originated from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show. The show had Andy Griffith in the role of Andy Taylor, the widowed sheriff of Mayberry, N.C. a fictional community of 2,000 people.Other major characters include Andy's well-meaning cousin and deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts); Andy's spinster aunt and housekeeper, Bea Taylor (Frances Bavier), and Andy's precocious young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Eccentric townspeople Floyd, the barber, The Darlings, an awkward band of hill folk musicians and temperamental girlfriends—Betty Lynn as “Thelma Lou,”and Aneta Corsaut as “Helen Crump” complete the cast NOTE: “Thelma Lou” was “Barney’s” girl and “Helen” was “Andy’s” girl.
This sums up in a nutshell, what the synopsis of The Andy Griffith Show was all about. The weekly-plot changed very little, but little enough that millions enjoyed this folksy sitcom which became the “darling” (no pun toward Denver Pyle and the Darlings) of CBS-TV Network. It wasn’t a test given by the genius, Albert Einstein on why the Griffith Show exploded with ratings at or near the top when the Nielsen Ratings were published. Nor was it because CBS’ stable of big advertisers who shared the loot with the network. The main reason for the Griffith Show’s success was Andy Griffith, his writers, director, producer, and the multi-talented cast that was talked about each week when the show ended.
Griffith was not a novice when it came to show business. Since his block-busting debut on “No Time For Sergeants,” that played on Broadway for many weeks, he and a few other power brokers, decided that a movie should be made with him as the star, “Will Stockdale,” a back home, backward boy of 20, but strong as a mule and wanted to be good to people. The film was made and “Stockdale” was born. But he needed a buddy. Enter Nick “Pvt. Ben Whitledge” Adams, a up and coming actor looking for a break and with enough talking and hand-shaking, Adams agreed to be “Stockdale’s” buddy. And you have guessed it. The film and the Broadway play grossed several millions in ticket sales as well as the other advertising endorsements which Griffith made to help his facial image and with that, he was on his way to more and more film offers, some he even turned down.
Incidentally, Dub Taylor as well as Malcom Atterbury, Jr., worked in the “No Time For Sergeants” project and went on to do other things including The Andy Griffith Show. This was also due to Griffith being able to see real talent when he would meet Taylor, Atterbury, Jr., Don Knotts or any of his cast of The Andy Griffith Show.
Until “A Face in The Crowd”
became one of his most bizarre, psychotic performances that Griffith ever gave. As social outcast and town drunk, “Larry Lonesome Rhodes,” was used by Patricia Neal, “Marcia Jeffries,” as a public relations expert and Walter Matthau as Mel Miller, a cynical writer who saw through “Rhodes’” acting and being able to use others for his benefit.
“Rhodes,” with the help and guidance of “Marcia,” got him do an air check about “Vita-Jex,” a super vitamin the company needed both a spokesperson and talking salesman via the radio and thus became the “Lonesome Rhodes Show.” This show was an automatic hit. “Rhodes” act of being so brutally-honest that the radio fans of his show were calling the station where he worked, sang, and gave out opinions as warped as a two-by-four that was left in the rain. “Rhodes” yelled, hollered, and the fans ate it up. The one sponsor soon became several and the majority of the royalties paid to the radio stations and TV outets got richer while “Rhodes” was now polished, wealthy, and prosperous—riding the wave of power that seemingly did not have an ending for him to notice. If “Rhodes” wasn’t selling dog food or automotive parts and tires, he was making (more) money hand-over-fist when he would do personal performances in opening big department stores and that led to him being a judge at every high school majorette beauty contest in every state around.
Still, “Lonesome Rhodes,” was not content with being very rich and very popular. Now he had this sights on Washington, D.C., where he wanted to run for a high office, but he was wise enough to do a lot of publicity for a likeable-candidate so he could “test the waters” to be sure if politics were his cup or tea or not.
You know how this film ended, so there is no use in rehashing the sadness, depression, and fearful script-writing that went into this ffilm. You can download or rent the movie. But again, “A Face in The Crowd” was one of the main rungs in the “Ladder of Success” that Andy Griffith was beginning to climb with ease.
Fans of Andy Griffith as being very driven as well as perfection as his guide. Even while filming “A Face in The Crowd,” 1957, and “No Time For Sergeants,” he would drive himself for hours until he delivered “just” the perfect line in his scripts. But the real Andy Griffith would forget and use his temper to alienate friends and strangers alike. What was coming down the track was something that Griffith never expected in a million years. But true Andy Griffith fans will see and know that the producers and directors both had hands in “polishing” Andy’s character into a polite, selfless office holder as Sheriff of Mayberry.
The thinking was perfect. With Andy’s “Will Stockdale” accent and rural ways, worked for a while, but little by little, “Stockdale” slowly faded away leaving “Andy Taylor,” the sharp-thinking, sharp-witted sheriff who had friends in almost every place in and out of Mayberry—and Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas both compiled their directing and producing genius which was the unshakable foundtion that made the Andy Griffith Show a monster-success.
Ladies And Gentlemen, Say Hello
to The Andy Griffith Show! You already know the background and history (in top paragraph), but what “I” am going to attempt is to go back if time travel were possible, and see the Town of “Mayberry” as it was when “Andy,” “Barney,” “Aunt Bea,” “Opie,” “Otis,” “Thelma Lou,” “Helen Crump,” “Goober Lindsey,” “Gomer Pyle,” “Floyd, The Barber.” as Demver Pyle as “Briscoe Darling,” and his boys who went by The Dillards in real life and the lovely Maggie Peterson starred as “Charlene Darling.”
If I were to design a machine for time travel, I would head to “Mayberry, N.C.,” the fictitious town of “Andy Taylor,” “Barney Fife,” and the rest of the crew and just take a slow walk around town and see what really happened to “Sheriff Andy” and “Deputy Fife,” and try to understand why “Mayberry” became all but a ghost town and in a few moments you will know why.
Hardly anything or any citizens of “Mayberry,” I found out, to change that much. First stop, the “Mayberry Courthouse,” the office of sheriff of “Mayberry” where “Andy Taylor” enforced the law as well as handed-down verdicts as Justice of The Peace and Judge of Probate. “Taylor” was never defeated in any of the city elections, even the “Sheriff Taylor Write-in Election,” brought him into office as winner, again, and bringing “Fife” along, again, as his second in command. NOTE: there was not really any serious cases that “Taylor” as Probate Judge or Justice of The Peace gave out to those like “Bobby (and Freddie, one one episode) Fleet, and His Band With a Beat;” “Mr. Tucker,” who stole “Gomer’s” truck from “Wally’s Service Station,” to head to “Goober’s” house in order to fix his car since “Tucker,”the traveling man had business in Charlotte the next day.
“Andy” also found the Ladies Auxiliary “innocent” when then-deputy sheriff,” Warren Ferguson, “ Jack Burns, tried and failed to fill “Barney’s” shoes. “Ferguson” loved the law, but he also loved to overdo it. “Taylor” also put a stop to the couple who conned “Barney” to marry the woman and then when “Fife” jumped for being trapped, “Andy” called their bluff after unsuccessfully trying to get “Barney” to give them $500.00 as an out-of-court settlement. “Dave Brown,” aka/Buddy Ebsen, was a traveling hobo who “lived by his wits” until “Andy” seen that “Brown” was influencing “Opie” in a bad way and “Brown” pulled a fake robbery in order to shatter “Opie’s” dreams of being a hobo.
Single “criminals” that “Andy” had to sentence were: Bill Bixby, the bachelor who flew by “Mayberry” and then got arrested by “Andy” and “Barney.” The guy’s name was “Ron Bailey,” son of “Judson Bailey,” the state’s most-influential and wealthy man, had to pay a few days sentence in the “Mayberry” lock-up, but “Andy” treated him with a lot of respect and then saw he error of his ways.
Susan Oliver, a gorgeous blonde convict that the State Police gave to “Andy” and “Barney” to keep her in their cell until the State Police could pick her up—and the gorgeous blonde almost caused “Andy” to fall in love with her so he would let her out jail, but the Andy Griffith scriptwriters always wrote Griffith in a hero’s light, except for the one time when “Thelma Lou’s” girl cousin, a sharp-shooting from Raleigh, beat “Andy” by one shot, but he took the loss in stride.
Dabs Greer, a veteran character (before he was Rev. Alden), and his wife made “Andy” ill because of a squabble and the wife threw a chicken at the husband and “Andy” fined them ten bucks, a lot of scratch in “Andy’s” day. The “Guitar Picker,” a young James Best, was arrested once by “Andy” for picking his guitar on the street, but as “Andy” told him that “he sure picked a good day to be arrestd--”Aunt Bea” was making chicken and dumplings, fried chicken and black coffee for lunch.” Actually, “Jim Lindsey,” James Best’ character was arrested twice by two diffent “Bobby Fleet” characters and the second one was “Freddie Fleet”and “His Band With a Beat.”
When I first darkened the door of the courthouse, I quickly noticed the empty and deafening sound of the quiet office as well as the now-empty jail cells, as “Barney” instructed part-time deputy, “Gomer Pyle,” “this is cell number one and cell number two,” to make sure that “Gomer” kept the jail cells straight because “Gomer” was not hard to be confused. Even now, the cells are growing cobwebs as no one uses them anymore because “Andy” has long since left “Mayberry” as the NBC movie of April 13, 1986 revealed that “Andy” left for Cleveland, Ohio, to work as a Postal Inspector to where he worked until his retirement and felt a longing to return to “Mayberry” to run for sheriff one last time.
I was sad enough until I walked down the sidewalk and saw the wooden bench were “Mr. Shwamp,” sat most of the time—but today, he had moved to another town. The truth is: the man who auditioned for “Schwamp,” froze-up and could not say his lines, but “Andy” liked him so much, he hired him to just standing or sitting in scenes and smiling.
But then I am reminded that this white wooden public bench was “stolen” in broad-open daylight by veteran actor, Will Wright who was miserly “Ben Weaver,” who did his best to get “Andy”to arrest him and throw him in the hoosegow to enjoy the Christmas festivities with “Andy,” Elinor Donahue, Frances Bavier, Ron Howard, and Don Knotts. The family that “Andy” “arrested” for moonshining was “Sam Wuggins,” (Sam Edwards) (an extra for Mayberry shows when needed) and his wife and children. Of course “Weaver” gets arrested and “Andy” does not ridicule him, but allows him to go back to his store and bring back some “things” to help his stay in jail be more comfortable—but in reality are Christmas gifts he wanted to give for everyone in the court house/Mayberry jail.
Wright also starred in two other smashing episodes: one, the one where “Andy” and “Barney” aggravate “Ben Weaver” for complaining about street-peddler “Bert Miller,” cast for Sterling Holloway, another veteran actor. In the end, “Miller” is hired by “Weaver” to sell for him and also buy-out his make-shift store in the vacant lot near the Mayberry township.
The second show that made Will Wright to become more ugly-natured and stingy was when he made “Andy” foreclose on his property in which a house that “Weaver” had sold to “Lester Scobie,” and his family, but due to jobs being scarce, “Lester” had to take odd jobs and his wife took in ironing. But in he end “Andy” wins the battle when he shows “Ben” just how ugly that he is being toward the “Scobies,” then he hires “Lester Scobie” to work in his store so he could make good on the past-due mortgage note.
Andy Griffith fans will recall one Allan Melvin, a master character actor who worked in ever role as a criminal to a convict and even an Army recruiter and went on from the Griffith Show to be “Sgt. Hacker,” “Sgt. Carter’s” buddy in the Marines where “Gomer Pyle” is stationed.
Singer, Jack Prince, appeared three times as a cantankerous Mayberry citizen, “Luke Jansen,” and as “Rafe Hollister” who was against the county nurse giving him a yearly-inoculation shot, but Andy gave him a good talk while in his jail cell. The morale of this episode: “Rafe’s Immortality.” Then when the women of Mayberry were doing some type of musicale, he appeared to visit Andy and give the ladies a bushel of green beans. Of course, “Barney” was in the back room practicing his singing because he wanted to try-out and be a part of the show, but Andy manipulated the event and had “Rafe” sing with “Barney” and of course, “Barney” did not come close in the contest, but “Rafe” and Andy went duo and “Rafe” sang, “Look Down That Lonesome Road,” and it was a fact the reason that Prince did so many shows with Andy. The simple reason was Andy liked Jack and that was that.
In the color versions of Andy Griffith, William Christopher, the priest with M*A*S*H, started with Hogan’s Heroes and on th Griffith Show, he came to Mayberry to be the new doctor and “Opie” had to have his tonsils out and of course, he did great. Christopher also came to town as an I.R.S. agent to let “Aunt Bea” know that she owed several hundred dollars on the items that she had won on a game show while her, “Andy” and “Opie,” were in Hollywood to see Andy’s film, “Sheriff Without a Gun”being filmed. “Bea” sold all of her appliances but her garbage disposal and things were back to normal.
Speaking of Animal “Stars”
who appeared on the Andy Griffith Show, there was a wooly dog that “Barney” named as “Blue,” and he tried to train him to work in the “Sheriff’s Dept.,” but the canine was so stubborn that he would not move until he wanted to.
One episode had (one of the) characters, “Fletch Dilbeck,” bringng “Jimmy,”his pet goat to town to show him off at “Floyd’s Barber Shop,” but the goat was so much trouble that “Fletch” had to tie him to the wooden courthouse bench so he could get his errands run, so “Jimmy,” the sharp-minded goat, ate through the rope and made his way down an alley to where highway department (who were working on a new highway near “Mayberry,” and “Jimmy” ate a lot of dynamite sending chills and shocks when “Andy” and “Barney” found out.
Look Twice or You’ll Miss
the few continuity errors seen on the Andy Griffith Show. There were two “Bobby Fleet” and His Band With a Beat. One was Henry Slate, and the other one was Joseph Sirola.
There were two “Floyd, the Barber,” the second one was Howard McNear and the first one was William Baldwin.
There were also three actors who played as “Wally” aka/”Service Station,”: Norman Leavitt; Cliff Norton and Trevor Bardette.
Will Wright and Tol Avery starred as two different 'Ben Weaver’ characters who owned “Weaver’s Dept. Store.”
Mayberry’s Two Famous Con Men and More:
that I remembered being “Mr. Henry Wheeler,” Edgar Buchanan, who was a traveling handyman who preyed on lonely women. “Wheeler” stopped at “Andy’s” home 24 Elm Street, Mayberry, to spray some aphids on “Aunt Bea’s” roses and one thing led to another until “Andy” took a liking to him and asked him to stay. But “Andy” sensed that “Mr. Wheeler” was only out for the money that “Aunt Bea” saved, so quick-thinking “Andy” called “Mr. Wheeler’s” bluff and ran to his truck to get gone fast.
Another one-time guest of “The Taylors,” was “Roger Hanover,” a long-lost beau of “Bea’s,” who also wanted “Bea’s” money to travel on, but “Andy” saw through him and he caught the afternoon train. Quick Fact: the man, Roger Hanover was Hanover’s real name.
And I have already mentioned THE Best con-man, “Dave Brown,” aka/Buddy Ebsen an intelligent hobo who told “Andy” that he “lived by his wits, to keep something in his stomach,” but “Andy” had to lock him up when he “stole” “Aunt Bea’s” purse, but turns out, “Andy” viewed her purse in the trash that morning and knew what “Brown” was up to. He was breaking “Opie’s” image of him being a sharp, smooth-talking thief.
I wouldn’t call this man a con man, but a two-time visitor, Bernard Fox played “Malcom Merriweather,” who lived in Heckmondwike, England, as a gentleman’s gentleman and using his saved salary in order to visit America.
Quick Fact: “Andy’s” home was used at least nine, (maybe more) times that I remember either as a place to stay for vacationing or business. “Uncle Ollie,” and “Aunt Nora,” “Bea’s” baby sister—stayed almost a week until the “Taylor’s” were having “cabin fever” and knew that the visitors needed to go.
Don Knotts, “Barney Fife,” stayed twice on vacation (only) when he left “Mayberry” to work at Raleigh, N.C., Police Dept., as a detective.
“Andy’s” home was also used by a visiting Russian diplomat who wanted to discuss a certain treaty by he U.S. State Dept., but “Barney,” who was there at Raleigh, steered the group to “Mayberry,” for a great place to meet and talk in a peaceful atmosphere.
“Henry Wheeler” Edgar Buchanan, also stayed with “The Taylors” for a lenghty-stay when he was trying to con “Aunt Bea” out of her savings. Another beau of “Bea,” the Roger Hanover character, visited “Bea,” but did not stay with the family.
Jim Nabors, “Gomer Pyle,” stayed with “The Taylors,” when he was temporarily fired from his job at “Wally’s Service Station,” but the visit turned into a nerve-sizzling ordeal when he overdid himself doing chores for “Andy” and “Aunt Bea.” But “Andy” talked with “Wally,” and told him to hire “Gomer” back and all was right with the world and “Mayberry.”
George Lindsey, “Goober Pyle,” “Gomer’s”cousin, encountered a small automobile accident while pumping gas at “Wally’s.” A lady in a sports car did not look where she was going and smashed into “Goober,” then “Aunt Bea,” and “Floyd” convinced “Goober” that he had whiplash and his doctor suggested that he stay with “The Taylors,” and his stay lasted for almost a week.
Jan Shutan was “Gloria Miller,” who was related to “Aunt Bea,” and asked if she might stay a few days due to a nasty break-up where she lived in Raleigh, N.C., “Helen” got jealous of the lovely girl and “Andy” had to solve this dilemma, by calling her fiance to ask him to come and take her back. Once again, “Andy”was the hero again.
“Otis Campbell” (Hal Smith) did stay for a few days, but not for a vacation when “Andy’s” jail was full and “Andy” made him stay with him and the family to do his time. “Bea” came to the rescue when she sobered “Otis” up and when he was clean and shaved, he was allowed to leave.
I am Now Ending My Tour
of “Mayberry,” as 1can tell that my time machine is low on nuclear fuel, so I must step-up the pace. I hurriedly appear in and out of the house where “Andy,” “Opie,” and “Aunt Bea” lived on 411 Elm St., and today, (future tense), the interior has pretty much remained the same as when the “Taylor’s” lived here even through life changes of the “Taylor family”--”Andy” and “Helen’s” romantic moments that took place here, a kiss here and there; “Opie’s” knowledge of himself becoming a young adult and doing more thinking than talking. And “Aunt Bea,” having her own changes as she ran for “Mayberry City Council,” took flying lessons and earned her pilot’s license and learned to drive with the ‘56 Ford that she bought for $400.00 from “Goober” Pyle. And “Andy,” was there many times entertaining “Barney” who was always on the go when he would visit “Andy” and the folks. Plus, “Andy” did a lot of sit-down on his guitar and played along with “Briscoe Darling” and “The Darling Boys,” aka/ the Dillards in real life.
But when “Andy” moved to Cleveland to work as a postal inspector, “Opie” worked in “Mayberry” for a short while as the publisher of “The Mayberry Gazette” with “Howard Sprague” becoming a top-rate photographer, but “Opie” and his wife, Eunice, moved out of town so “Opie” could take a better-paying job inn a bigger newspaper enabling him to bring home more money for Eunice and baby.
Before I speed out of the “Taylor” residence, I have to sit on the front porch on the Wicker furniture and just enjoy the summer breeze blowing by so gently. I can imagine just sitting with the “Taylor’s,’ “Barney,”and “Gomer” spending memories and tales on the porch and “Andy” persuading “Bea” to get the ice cream freezer as “Andy” said, “gotta have some ice cream,” because this was a special occasion and I can see why.
Everything in “Mayberry” had changed so dramatically that I was in tears. A TV sitcom, a sensible sitcom, the object of millions’ devotion, will always stay securely in reruns and I can live with that, but still, while I was in “Mayberry,” I would have been so glad to meet a “Mayberrian,”maybe pretty “Thelma Lou” for a quick cup of coffee. That would have made my day.
No one saw me inside or outside of the “Taylor” home (or in “Mayberry”) because I was a hologram and could not be seen by humans, but I could see them. And what a shock to see a widower young guy in his mid-twenties and his young son, age six, and a spinster aunt who kept house for them. The young man did not work in the “Mayberry Sheriff’s Dept.,” but in the Office of The Circuit Clerk a position once held by “Howard Sprague,” played by Jack Dodson. His wife passed away a year ago succumbing to a serious virus and the young man never remarried. His spinster aunt was very happy to move from Henderson TN., to become his housekeeper and help to raise his young son. Sounds familiar doesn’t it?
Sad Parting Words . . .
if you are an Andy Griffith fan, then you must have loved their episode, “Man in a Hurry,” which starred veteran actor, Robert Ernhardt ("Mr. Tucker" ) He took up with “Andy, ” “Bea,”and “Opie,” to get Andy to help him find someone to fix his car that had just broken down just out of town. I loved this episode and it does seem so near and dear to me as well as “The Christmas Show,” with another veteran actor, Will Wright.
January 7, 2020____________________________________________________
© 2020 Kenneth Avery
Tammy Winters from Oregon on September 23, 2020:
Very interesting article... I love the Andy Griffith Show.
Kenneth Avery (author) from Hamilton, Alabama on February 05, 2020:
whonunu and RoadMonkey, honestly-speaking, you two ARE TWO of my BEST friends. Love you both as well as your writing talents. And while I meant to include you both in ONE slot, I have to admit that my Fibromyalgia is really acting-up especially at where we live when it is raining cats (no dogs) like it is now.
Not that I am complaining, but the soon future, spring will be here and this rain in February will help our lawn.
Blessings to YOU Both . . .as you say to me, whonunuwho and take care, RoadMonkey.
whonunuwho from United States on January 08, 2020:
When Andy became a lawyer in his new show it was hard to watch.Kept remembering Mayberry. I'll miss that great show too, my friend. Saw Barney in a few great shows later (movies) always the life of the party. Blessings to all. whonu
RoadMonkey on January 08, 2020:
I think you must have been a great fan of this show. I have never seen it but I think that shows that demonstrate positive help for the community, with everyday stories often become very popular.