The Andy Griffith Show ran from 1960 to 1968 and captured audiences with its portrayal of the sleepy town of Mayberry and its lovable cast of characters that were always up to something. But not everything about the show was as transparent and wholesome as it seemed. Here are some behind-the-scenes things about the show that you’re not supposed to know about the classic sitcom with the catchiest whistling theme song ever.
1. Andy and Barney were first introduced as cousins
When the show first hit the air, Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife were introduced as cousins. That relationship was mentioned and kept up for the first three episodes “The New Housekeeper,” “The Manhunt,” and “Runaway Kid.” But then the producers changed their mind and just dropped that familial storyline, hoping that no one would notice.
2. Opie is not actually throwing that rock
During the opening credits it appears that Opie is throwing a rock into the lake, but a young Ron Howard couldn’t master the shot or get the rock to the water at all. The producers cheated and put someone in the bushes behind him to do it, and the rest is TV history.
3. There were only two real southerners involved
Despite the show being based in and highly focused around life in the south, the only main cast members involved who were true southerners were Andy Griffith himself and Jim Nabors. Guess they passed along their knowledge and charm quite nicely.
4. The real life Aunt Bee and Andy did not get along
On the show the character of Aunt Bee was sweet as pie, but behind the scenes was a different matter. The actress Frances Bavier who played Aunt Bee did not get along with Andy and even refused a visit from him years after the show ended. Later it is reported that she did express her regret over the situation…
5. Producers Wanted Barney to be the Straight Man
The initial plan was for Sheriff Andy Taylor to be the comical one and Deputy Barney Fife to be the straight man. However, it didn’t take long to realize that the reverse was better for the show and the particular talents of the actors. With a face like that, Don Knotts was born to be the comic relief.
6. It’s Not True that Jim Nabors Married Rock Hudson
Back in the 1960s, fans probably wouldn’t have been accepting that the bumbling gas station attendant of Gomer Pyle was played by a homosexual actor. It wasn’t something Jim Nabors actively hid, it just wasn’t something that was openly acknowledged at the time. However, a few years after the show plus its spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C ended, rumors started flying that Nabors and Rock Hudson were a couple. In fact, the rumor mill had it that the two actors actually married (albeit not legally) and that Hudson was changing his name to Rock Pyle, in homage to Jim’s character. Well, this was all a bad joke gone wrong. The two had been friends, but a romantic relationship and marriage never happened. This lore took on a life of its own and the two actors never spoke again. In January 2013, at the age of 82, Jim Nabors married his partner of 38 years, Stan Cadwallader.
7. Andy and Barney knew each other before the show
The chemistry between Andy Griffith and Don Knotts was not brand new to the show. The two had actually worked together before. Both of them starred in the Broadway show No Time For Sergeants, which is a production that won Andy a Tony nomination for his role as Will Stockdale.
8. The fictional town was based on a real town
While the town of Mayberry, North Carolina was supposed to be an entirely fictional one, it was actually based on the real life town of Mount Airy. One can wonder if any of the characters were inspired by real life as well.
9. Barney left because of contractual reasons
It can be complicated writing characters out of shows, especially when it’s just over a contractual disagreement. Ultimately Don Knotts could not agree to the terms of obligations involved with re-signing, so he ended up resigning from the show, even though he had won five Emmy award for the iconic role of Barney Fife.
10. But then he tried to come back
At one point Don offered to come back to the show, but only under the circumstances that he could have an ownership stake in the production. Andy and his manager were the only ones who did have ownership at the time, so the answer was a solid no. Can’t blame a guy for trying.
11. There’s a reason why Sheriff Taylor never carried a gun
The absence of a gun in Sheriff Taylor’s scenes was not an oversight. It was written as a character trait. Sheriff Taylor wanted the people of the town to respect him, not to fear him.
12. There were ten different squad cars
Over the course of shooting there were actually ten different squad cars used. Basically as soon as Ford released a new model of the Galaxie, they had one shipped over and seamlessly inserted it into the show. They stayed relevant without anyone really noticing.
13. Many of the characters weren’t expected to last
When many of the actors joined the show to be part of the ensemble cast there was no guarantee that they would be sticking around longer than an episode. This was even true for Otis Campbell, the town drunk, although that changed after the first day of shooting. After wrapping the day, the producer Aaron Ruben took actor Hal Smith aside and said “Hal, this might develop into quite a part for you.”
14. Andy was a huge practical joker
It sounds like Andy Griffith kept the life on set pretty upbeat and interesting, even when they weren’t shooting. He was known to be a huge practical joker and liked to tease in general. Andy supposedly teased Don all the time by calling him “Jess,” which was short for his real first name of Jesse. He knew he hated it.
15. Crump Was Supposed to be a One-off
In the third season, there was an episode involving Opie’s teacher who was played by actress Aneta Corsaut. It was supposed to be a one-shot role, but chemistry sparked and the producers decided to develop the character into Andy’s girlfriend. It ended up being 66 episode gig. Perhaps if they had anticipated that course they would have given her a better name than Helen Crump.
16. Ron Howard was highly influenced by Andy
Successful actor and director Ron Howard, who played Opie, has spoken out about what an impact Andy had on his life. “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. Andy was really kind to me, always playful and fun, but, by the same token, he wanted to get the work done.”
17. The show ended on a high note
When the show finally came to an end it was still in the number one spot…which makes it only one of only three shows to achieve that. It’s in good company with successful sitcoms I Love Lucy and Seinfeld.
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