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Secret Facts You Didn’t Know About ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Beloved 60s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show was a cult classic spanning eight years and as many seasons. Although on the surface it was a simple, yet lovable sitcom, we’ve found some secrets that even huge fans of the show may have missed!

Andy was a real joker

Andy was certainly the practical joker on set, and did all sorts of hijinks, especially towards his co-star Don, who was much calmer in real life than he was on screen. If Don were napping, Andy would rudely wake him by dropping something loud and heavy on the floor! One time, George “Goober” Lindsey work up from a nap to find duck guts strung up around the dressing room, courtesy of Andy.

Everything is temporary

Most characters, from Don to Barney Fife, were not given solid contracts at the beginning of filming and could easily have appeared in just a few episodes. After seeing the chemistry that Don and Andy had onscreen on just the first day, Sheldon Leonard, the Executive Producer gave Don a one-year contract immediately.

Aunt Bee doesn’t have time for your nonsense!

Although the rest of the cast enjoyed some on-set mischief, Aunt Bee star, Frances Bavier, was not a fan of these antics, nor cursing. During the filming of the spin-off show Mayberry R.F.D, Frances was so offended by George Lindsey’s potty mouth, she hit him over the head with an umbrella!

That rocks!

During the opening credits, Ronny Howard, as Opie, throws a rock into the reservoir. However, at only six-years-old, Ronny was not very accurate with his aim and it didn’t hit the water, so in the end, a prop man hid behind a bush, ready to throw a rock of his own into the water to look as though Opie hit his mark!

Family Affairs

Originally, Andy and Barney were referred to as cousins, with Andy even calling Barney, ‘Cousin Barney,’ however, after just a few episodes into season one, this idea was dropped and never spoken of again. Weird!

Poor Floyd the Barber

Howard McNear, who played Floyd, the barber, suffered a stroke and therefore could not use the left side of his body. He also struggled to stand, and so a personalized stool was built to make it look as though Floyd was standing when in reality he was leaning, or half-sitting on the stool. He was also often written to be sat in a chair or on a bench.

Always February in the barbershop

For some reason, the calendar in Floyd’s barbershop was always turned to February. Whether there was a hidden meaning behind this or just the fact that it was never changed between filming was not explained, but it’s a fun easter egg to try and spot. Give it a try, next time you’re watching.

Strange fan mail

In the show, Andy tells Barney regularly that he is not to be trusted with a loaded gun and gives him just one single bullet. Fans of the show would send Don Knotts a single bullet in fan mail as a tribute to this. We’re not sure if that’s a really sweet thing to do or completely bizarre; imagine receiving bullets in the mail!

Get your facts straight!

There are a few things mentioned on the show that is never concrete. For example, Barney’s middle name is, at different times, Milton, Oliver, and the initial P. Andy’s home address is another example, with it being 24 Elm Street on one episode and 332 Maple Street on another. Perhaps the script writers should have made a note of these things!

All white

In all of the show’s 248 episodes there was only one African-American actor to have a speaking role, (albeit a very small one!) Rockne Tarkington who played the football coach in “Opie’s Piano Lesson”. Unfortunately, it’s a sign of the times and this was quite a common occurrence in TV and films back then.

Andy Griffith’s wife

In the background of some episodes, the eagle-eyed among you may have spotted Andy’s then, real life wife, Barbara Bray Edwards. If you read our facts all the way to the end, you may work out why she was so keen to keep her eyes on her husband Andy…

Gone with the Wind?

Some of the set of The Andy Griffith Show might seem a little familiar. That’s because the show was filmed at Desilu Studios, Culver City, on the same soundstage as the classic film, Gone with the Wind. Two completely different kettles of fish, but we guess it probably saved them some dollars in the end.

Repeats

Reruns of the show were shown during the day on CBS and to avoid confusion(!), these were renamed “Andy of Mayberry.” Later, when the show had finished, all were changed back to the original The Andy Griffith Show as they were all re-runs from then on.

Mount Airy

Mayberry was based on Andy’s hometown of Mount Airy in North Carolina where there is now an Andy Griffith Museum and even an annual Mayberry Days celebration which is very popular. In fact, in 2010, for the show’s 50th anniversary, almost 50,000 people attended! Who knew it was so popular?!

Top of the range

During the run of the show, ten different squad cars were used. Every time a new model of the Galaxy was released, the team had Ford ship them one over and made sure they were always using the newest model. We guess it worked for advertising for Ford as well, so it definitely makes sense!

Andy and Aneta

On-screen couple Andy and Helen were said to have been off-screen lovers too, despite the fact that Andy was married at the time! He got a divorce while working on the show and before he died had been married three times. Now we understand why his wives may have wanted to be on set with him too…

Hal Smith’s voiceover career

Hal Smith’s work after The Andy Griffith show as mainly voice over jobs in animated television shows and movies. He voiced the role of the owl in Winnie the Pook, as well as Uncle Tex in The Flinstones. Sadly, Hal passed away in 1994 soon after his wife passed away as well.

Barney Fife

Don Knotts was very well known for his role as Barney on The Andy Griffith Show, but he also landed a major role on the show Three’s Company, as annoying landlord, Ralph Furley, alongside John Ritter and the gals. He did some other television appearances thereafter as well.

Friends Forever

Andy and Don remained friends all the way to the end of Don’s life. Andy said that their last conversation consisted of his friend saying, “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, 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.”

Sheriff Andy Taylor

Andy Griffith tried to revive his television career after the end of The Andy Griffith Show, but many of the shows afterwards were not successful. It wasn’t until 1986 that he landed the role of attorney Ben Matlock, in the aptly named show, Matlock. The show was a great success while it was running, especially among the older demographic.

Sheriff Andy Taylor

Andy Griffith tried to revive his television career after the end of The Andy Griffith Show, but many of the shows afterwards were not successful. It wasn’t until 1986 that he landed the role of attorney Ben Matlock, in the aptly named show, Matlock. The show was a great success while it was running, especially among the older demographic.

A message to folks at home

When Andy got older, and his health was more often than not failing him, he decided to help out his fans the best way he could, by appearing in a public service announcement that promoted the new health care reforms at the time for seniors. Andy was active in the political sphere as well, actively supporting a candidate he thought would be best for the country. Andy was a vocal democrat.

Fan’s sadness

Back in 1983, Andy was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a condition in which the body’s immune system attacks itself and more specifically the peripheral nervous system. He eventually recovered fully from the condition. In 2000, another situation landed him in the hospital – a quadruple heart bypass surgery. His health was always an issue for Andy, but many were blinded sided by his passing in 2012.

Andy Griffith’s awards over the years

Andy won himself quite an impressive number of awards during his lifetime. A few of them were the Television Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. His name is synonymous with Hollywood and everything it stands for. He was at the height of the best television era in history, and made more than enough of an impression on the collective American psyche.

Don Knotts left the show due to a misunderstanding

Andy Griffith gave Don Knotts the part of Barney with a five year contract included. Don thought that it meant that the show was only going to be on the air for five years, so he went on to sign a contact with Universal Pictures. When the five years were up and the show was still going strong, Don wanted to stay but was contractually obligated to leave.

Relationship style change: Andy and Barney

Notice that in the first few episodes, you learn that Andy and Barney are actually cousins, as an ode to the close knit southern relationship that is borderline stereotypical of the southern gentlemen. After those few episodes though, producers dropped the act and made Andy and Barney just plain childhood friends who are as thick as thieves.

Mystery man and actor

Do you remember, Mister Schwamp? It’s okay if you don;’t, because even if you did you would only scratch your head as to who he is. He would often be sitting in various scenes, and be acknowledged by Andy or Barney with a – Hello, Mister Schwamp. Other than that we know nothing about him as a character or as an actor. To this day You may have no idea who he is and what the name of the actor is as well.

Mister-Schwamp

Andy broke his hand punching a wall

Showing a side of himself we didn’t really know he had, Andy got himself hurt when he punched a wall out of anger during the second season of The Andy Griffith Show. In order to make his injury credible by way of the storyline, it was said that Sheriff Taylor got himself injured while catching a bad guy. We’re glad the incident didn’t repeat itself, we don’t like learning of injuries and anger management issues.

Helen Crump was meant to be a one time thing

Producers of The Andy Griffith Show gave actress Aneta Corsaut a terrible name on the show because she wasn’t supposed to be a regular on the show. However, after just one appearance, Aneta and Andy has such great chemistry that he decided to make her a regular on the show. Lesson for the producers – think of a better name when you aren’t sure if things are going in a certain direction.

Don Knott’s suit went with him much farther than the show

You aren’t crazy, Don Knotts loved his suit from The Andy Griffith Show so much that he wore it in his roles in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and How to Frame a Figg. The suit and hat ended up being a sort of classic look for Don, something he was known for in the end. We like it! We also happen to think he was very chic for his time.

Andy didn’t like on-screen love

Andy couldn’t fake it well, or so he said. Actress, Elinor Donahue, decided to leave the show after one season because she didn’t like the fact that she and Andy had zero chemistry. Andy would later admit that it was hard for him to fake that kind of affection and care for someone, it wasn’t like the other forms of acting for him. He cared a lot about how things looked and he felt his acting wasn’t believable when it came to love. Elinor-Donahue-on-Andy-Griffith-Show

The Ron Howard off-screen father-son relationship

Ron Howard has a thing for working with family, as well as bringing them together every chance he gets; so on The Andy Griffith Show, Ron followed his father’s steps and went into acting. Ron and his dad had a great bond, and as such he wanted that bond to show between Andy and Opie’s characters as well. It is very touching to learn this personal fact about what was then, little Ron Howard.

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