Andy Griffith Show, The


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

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About

The Andy Griffith Show was one of the most popular and memorable comedy series of the 1960s. In its eight years on the air, from 1960 to 1968, it never dropped below seventh place in the seasonal Nielsen rankings, and it was number one the year it ceased production. The series pilot originally aired as an episode of Make Room For Daddy, a popular sitcom starring Danny Thomas. Sheldon Leonard produced both shows for Danny Thomas Productions.

An early example of television's "rural revolution," The Andy Griffith Show was part of a programming trend which saw the development of comedies featuring naïve but noble "rubes" from deep in the American heartland. The trend began when ABC debuted The Real McCoys in 1957, but CBS became the network most associated with lt. The success CBS achieved with The Andy Griffith Show provided the inspiration for a string of hits such as The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, and Hee Haw. Genial and comparatively innocuous, these shows were just right for a time when TV was under frequent attack by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Congressional committees for its violent content.

Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas designed The Andy Griffith Show to fit the image of its star. Griffith's homespun characterizations were already well-known to audiences who'd seen his hayseed interpretations of Shakespeare on The Ed Sullivan Show and his starring roles in the films A Face in the Crowd (1957) and No Time for Sergeants (1958). On The Andy Griffith Show, he played Sheriff Andy Taylor, the fair-minded and easygoing head lawman of the Edenic small town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Neither sophisticated nor worldly-wise, Andy drew from a deep well of unpretentious folk wisdom that allowed him to settle domestic disputes and outwit the arrogant city folk who occasionally passed through town. When he wasn't at the Sheriff's office, Andy, a widower, was applying his old-fashioned horse sense to the raising of his young son Opie (Ronny Howard), a task he shared with his Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier).

Mayberry was based upon Andy Griffith's real hometown, and perhaps this was partially responsible for the strong sense many viewers got that Mayberry was a real place. Over the years the writers fleshed out the geography and character of the town with a degree of detail unusual for series television. The directorial style of the series was also strikingly distinct, employing a relaxed, almost lethargic tone appropriate to the nostalgic settings of front porch, sidewalk, and barber shop. The townspeople, and the ensemble of actors who portrayed them, were crucial to the success of the show. Most of these characters were "hicks," playing comic foils to the sagacious Andy. Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and his cousin Goober (George Lindsey) came right out of the "bumpkin" tradition that had been developed years ago in films, popular literature, and comic strips. Town barber Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear) was a font of misinformation and the forerunner of Cheers' Cliff Clavin. Otis (Hal Smith), the unrepentant town drunk, was trained to let himself into his jail cell after a Saturday night bender and to let himself out on Sunday morning. Without much real police work to attend to, Andy's true job was protecting these and other citizens of Mayberry from their own hubris, intemperance, and stupidity.

Most of Andy's time, however, was spent controlling his earnest but over-zealous deputy, Barney Fife. Self-important, romantic, and nearly always wrong, Barney dreamed of the day he could use the one bullet Andy had issued to him. While Barney was forever frustrated that Mayberry was too small for the delusional ideas he had of himself, viewers got the sense that he couldn't have survived anywhere else. Don Knotts played the comic and pathetic sides of the character with equal aplomb and was given four Emmy Awards for doing so. He left the show in 1965 and was replaced by Jack Burns in the role of Deputy Warren Furguson.

The Andy Griffith Show engendered two spin-offs. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., was a military sitcom featuring Gomer in the Marines. Mayberry, R.F.D., was a reworking of The Andy Griffith Show made necessary by Griffith's departure in 1968. Like the parent show, the spin-offs celebrated the honesty, the strong sense of community, and the solid family values supposedly inherent in small town life.

By the late 1960s, however, many viewers, especially young ones, were rejecting these shows as irrelevant to modern times. Mayberry's total isolation from contemporary problems was part of its appeal, but more than a decade of media coverage of the civil rights movement had brought about a change in the popular image of the small Southern town. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., was set on a U.S. Marine base between 1964 and 1969, but neither Gomer nor any of his fellow soldiers ever mentioned the war in Vietnam. CBS executives, afraid of losing the lucrative youth demographic, purged their schedule of hit shows that were drawing huge but older-skewing audiences. Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., was in second place when it was canceled in l969. Mayberry, R.F.D., and the rest of the rural comedies, met a similar fate within the next two seasons. They were replaced by such "relevant" new sitcoms as All In the Family and M*A*S*H.

The Andy Griffith Show remains an enduring favorite In syndicated reruns. New fan books about the program, including a cookbook of favorite dishes mentioned in specific episodes, continued to appear nearly thirty years after the end of the original network run. In 1986, a reunion show brought together most of the original cast and production team. Return To Mayberry was the highest-rated telefilm of the season.

-Jerry Haggins

CAST

Andy Taylor............................................. Andy Griffith

Opie Taylor.......................................... Ronny Howard

Barney Fife (1960-65)................................. Don Knotts

Ellie Walker (1960-61).......................... Elinor Donahue

Aunt Bee Taylor................................... Frances Bavier

Clara Edwards.................................... Hope Summers

Gomer Pyle (1963-64)................................ Jim Nabors

Helen Crump (1964-68).......................... Aneta Corsaut

Goober Pyle (1965-68)......................... George Lindsey

Floyd Lawson......................................Howard McNear

Otis Campbell (1960-67).............................. Hal Smith

Howard Sprague (1966-68)....................... Jack Dodson

Emmett Clark (1967-68)......................... Paul Hartman

Thelma Lou (1960-65)................................. Betty Lynn

Warren Ferguson (1965-66)........................ Jack Burns

Mayor Stoner (1962-63)............................. Parley Baer

Jud Crowley (1961-66)................................Burt Mustin

PRODUCERS

Louis Edelman, Sheldon Leonard

PROGRAMMING HISTORY

249 Episodes

CBS

October 1960-July 1963   Monday 9:30-10:00

September 1963-September 1964   Monday 9:30-10:00

September 1964-June 1965   Monday 8:30-9:00

September 1965-September 1968   Monday 9:00-9:30

FURTHER READING

Barnouw, Erik. Tube of Plenty: The Evolution of American Television. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Beck, Ken, and Jim Clark. The Andy Griffith Show Book. New York: St. Martin's, 1985.

Eisner, Joel, and David Krinsky. Television Comedy Series: An Episode Guide to 153 Sitcoms in Syndication. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland, 1984.

Kelly, Richard. The Andy Griffith Show. Winston-Salem, North Carolina: John F. Blair, 1981.

Marc, David. Demographic Vistas: Television in American Culture. Philadelphia: The University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984.

_______________. Comic Visions: Television Comedy and American Culture. Boston: Unwin Hyman, 1989.

Watson, Mary Ann. The Expanding Vista: American Television in the Kennedy Years. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Highlights
Elinor Donahue on working on The Andy Griffith Show
09:17
Producer Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
00:40
Harvey Bullock on Andy Griffith's involvement in writing The Andy Griffith Show
04:46
Who talked about this show

Howard Anderson, Jr.

View Interview
Howard Anderson Jr. on creating the opening titles for The Andy Griffith Show
01:48

Ken Berry

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Ken Berry on joining The Andy Griffith Show in 1968
04:45
Ken Berry on making the transition from The Andy Griffith Show to Mayberry, R.F.D.
07:55
Ken Berry on working with Andy Griffith on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry, R.F.D.
01:55
Ken Berry on working with Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show
01:04
Ken Berry on working with Frances Bavier on The Andy Griffith Show and Mayberry, R.F.D.
01:17
Ken Berry on the fans of Mayberry
02:43

Bruce Bilson

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Bruce Bilson on directing the cast of The Andy Griffith Show
05:15
Bruce Bilson on assistant directing The Andy Griffith Show
10:37
Bruce Bilson on the supporting characters on The Andy Griffith Show
01:51

Sam Bobrick

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Sam Bobrick on the process of writing for The Andy Griffith Show, which included pitching ideas to producer Sheldon Leonard
01:48
Sam Bobrick on his first script for The Andy Griffith Show: "The Shoplifters," and on working for Joseph Barbera
02:16
Sam Bobrick on writing for Andy Griffith and Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show and on writing for Gomer Pyle - USMC
01:59
Sam Bobrick on his favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show
01:58
Sam Bobrick on the continued popularity of The Andy Griffith Show
03:04

James L. Brooks

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James L. Brooks on writing episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons
00:28

Harvey Bullock

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Harvey Bullock on writing The  Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
05:12
Harvey Bullock on coming to write for The Andy Griffith Show
01:09
Harvey Bullock on writing the various characters on The Andy Griffith Show
01:50
Harvey Bullock on working with Andy Griffith on The Andy Griffith Show
01:39
Harvey Bullock on Andy Griffith's involvement in writing The Andy Griffith Show
04:46
Harvey Bullock on writing for Don Knotts as "Barney Fife" on The Andy Griffith Show
04:49
Harvey Bullock on Ron Howard as "Opie Taylor" on The Andy Griffith Show
01:27
Harvey Bullock on Frances Bavier as "Aunt Bea" on The Andy Griffith Show
00:48
Harvey Bullock on Howard McNear as "Floyd the Barber" on The Andy Griffith Show
00:45
Harvey Bullock on Jim Nabors as "Gomer Pyle" on The Andy Griffith Show
02:04
Harvey Bullock on working with producer Sheldon Leonard on The Andy Griffith Show
01:00
Harvey Bullock on the process of writing scripts for The Andy Griffith Show
03:56
Harvey Bullock on the directors of The Andy Griffith Show
02:38
Harvey Bullock on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie's Hobo Friend"
02:27
Harvey Bullock on writing The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Pickle Story"
02:55
Harvey Bullock on writing The Andy Griffith Show episode "One Punch Opie" and "Barney's" catchphrase "Nip it in the bud"
00:49
Harvey Bullock on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Andy's English Valet"
04:31
Harvey Bullock on The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Legend of Barney Fife" and leaving The Andy Griffith Show
04:38
Harvey Bullock on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show
02:17

Richard Crenna

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Richard Crenna on directing Jim Nabors on The Andy Griffith Show
01:29
Richard Crenna on directing The Andy Griffith Show, specifically the classic episode "Opie the Birdman," which featured Ron Howard as "Opie Taylor"
06:54

Elinor Donahue

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Elinor Donahue on working on The Andy Griffith Show
09:17
Elinor Donahue on the reason for her short-lived role as "Ellie May Walker" on The Andy Griffith Show
02:22
Elinor Donahue on a picture of her with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts
00:28

Barbara Eden

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Barbara Eden on guesting on The Andy Griffith Show
01:10

Ruth Engelhardt

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Ruth Engelhardt on packaging The Andy Griffith Show and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and That Girl
06:09

Mike Fenton

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Mike Fenton on doing casting for The Andy Griffith Show
00:25
Mike Fenton on acting as casting director for The Andy Griffith Show and on working for Andy Griffith
02:35

Vince Gilligan

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Vince Gilligan on being influenced by The Andy Griffith Show
01:23

Everett Greenbaum

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Everett Greenbaum on writing for The Andy Griffith Show
10:33
Everett Greenbaum on the creation of "Gomer Pyle" on The Andy Griffith Show
03:09
Everett Greenbaum on the cast of The Andy Griffith Show
02:57

Andy Griffith

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Andy Griffith on the use of music on The Andy Griffith Show and on where ideas for the show came from
03:14
Andy Griffith on the morality of The Andy Griffith Show and on Ron Howard as "Opie Taylor"
02:17
Andy Griffith on Sheldon Leonard as producer of The Andy Griffith Show, and on the CBS rural purge of 1971
02:10
Andy Griffith on how The Andy Griffith Show came about with producers Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard, and on Don Knotts being cast as "Barney Fife"
04:57
Andy Griffith on the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show, which aired as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show, on deciding to play straight man to Don Knotts, and on the input of producer Sheldon Leonard
04:43
Andy Griffith on The Andy Griffith Show producer Aaron Ruben
01:47
Andy Griffith on a typical workweek on The Andy Griffith Show, and on working with one camera
04:54
Andy Griffith on the town of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show
01:36
Andy Griffith on The Andy Griffith Show spin-off Gomer Pyle - USMC, starring Jim Nabors
01:23
Andy Griffith on the end of The Andy Griffith Show and the start of Mayberry RFD
01:33
Andy Griffith on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show, and on the characters of the show
02:37

Earle Hagen

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Earle Hagen on writing the theme to The Andy Griffith Show
04:58
Composer Earle Hagen on the origin of The Andy Griffith Show
03:20
Earle Hagen on composing music for Don Knotts' character on The Andy Griffith Show
04:03
Earle Hagen on scoring The Andy Griffith Show

Earl Hamner, Jr.

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Earl Hamner on writing spec scripts for The Andy Griffith Show
01:07

Jeffrey Hayden

View Interview
Jeffrey Hayden on the schedule of The Donna Reed Show
00:19
Jeffrey Hayden on getting hired for The Andy Griffith Show (and having known Griffith from their college days together)
00:47
Jeffrey Hayden on the ensemble of The Andy Griffith Show 
00:48
Jeffrey Hayden on what made The Andy Griffith Show special
01:08

Paul Henning

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Paul Henning on Sheldon Leonard asking him to write an episode of The Andy Griffith Show
01:55

Ron Howard

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Ron Howard on his significant part on the General Electric Theater episode "Mr. O'Malley," which led to his casting on The Andy Griffith Show
03:11
Ron Howard on acting in front of a "live" audience for the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, that appeared as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show
00:36
Ron Howard on his parents' talks with him regarding his acting commitments as a child star of The Andy Griffith Show
01:56
Ron Howard on how he learned cursive writing so that he could sign autographs
00:26
Ron Howard on how his father served as his acting coach
01:37
Ron Howard on how the tone of The Andy Griffith Show was set by Andy Griffith's his approach to comedy
02:59
Ron Howard on his first contribution to the dialogue during the shooting of The Andy Griffith Show
01:59
Ron Howard on his early interests in becoming a director while acting as a child star on The Andy Griffith Show
00:41
Ron Howard on how The Andy Griffith Show was about the community of Mayberry as an extended family
01:36
Ron Howard on how his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" developed from his real-life father's talks with Andy Griffith
02:03
Ron Howard on his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor's" relationship with his father 
01:47
Ron Howard on Andy Griffith
02:28
Ron Howard on Don Knotts
01:17
Ron Howard on Frances Bavier
00:23
Ron Howard on using the death of a pet in real life to reach the emotions needed on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
01:56
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Pickle Story"
01:18
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50
Ron Howard on the real-life inspired Andy Griffith Show episode "The Ball Game," in which Andy calls Opie out at the plate in a baseball game
01:29
Ron Howard on comparing the approach to comedy on The Andy Griffith Show to that of Happy Days
01:23
Ron Howard on his brother, actor Clint Howard, who got his start as a bit-player on The Andy Griffith Show
01:04

Frank Inn

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Frank Inn on acting as animal trainer for The Andy Griffith Show
03:19
Frank Inn on working for producer Sheldon Leonard on The Andy Griffith Show
02:44

Alan Jaggs

View Interview
Alan Jaggs on moving into editing for television and editing The Andy Griffith Show
02:59
Alan Jaggs on editing The Andy Griffith Show
01:23

Don Knotts

View Interview
Don Knotts on getting cast on The Andy Griffith Show
02:11
Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show executive producer Sheldon Leonard
01:11
Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show producer-writer Aaron Ruben (and Knotts' contribution to the writing of the show)
01:30
Don Knotts on the workweek during production of The Andy Griffith Show
02:22
Don Knotts on his Andy Griffith Show character "Barney Fife"
00:15
Don Knotts on the settling in of the "Barney"/"Andy Taylor" characterizations on The Andy Griffith Show
01:05
Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show director Bob Sweeney
01:18
Don Knotts on how The Andy Griffith Show developed into a character-driven (rather than joke-driven) sitcom 
01:20
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith, personally
00:44
Don Knotts on shooting exteriors for The Andy Griffith Show
00:59
Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show's setting of Mayberry (and the episode "Man in a Hurry")
00:57
Don Knotts on working with Andy Griffith: the ultimate "straight man"
01:13
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show co-star Frances Bavier ("Aunt Bee")
00:57
Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Pickle Story"
01:11
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show co-star Ron Howard ("Opie")
01:05
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show co-star Howard McNear ("Floyd, the Barber") and the episode "Convicts-at-Large"
02:02
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show co-star Hal Smith ("Otis, the town drunk")
00:49
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show semi-regular Betty Lynn ("Thelma Lou")
00:24
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show co-stars Jim Nabors ("Gomer") and George Lindsey ("Goober")
00:34
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show semi-regular Howard Morris ("Ernest T. Bass")
00:28
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show director Bob Sweeney's method for getting a funny take (even at the expense of the actor)
02:31
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show director Bob Sweeney's interest in the depth of a scene (and director Alan Rafkin's approach)
00:39
Don Knotts on Andy Griffith Show writers Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum
01:18
Don Knotts on a funny sight gag from the Andy Griffith Show episode "Barney's Sidecar"
00:22
Don Knotts on winning his first Emmy Award (for The Andy Griffith Show)
00:24
Don Knotts on leaving The Andy Griffith Show as a regular (in 1965)
01:28
Don Knotts on being typecast from his popularity as "Barney Fife" on The Andy Griffith Show
00:38
Don Knotts on his subsequent Emmy wins for playing "Barney Fife" on The Andy Griffith Show
00:27
Don Knotts on the experience of doing the Andy Griffith Show reunion TV movie Return to Mayberry
02:53

Sheldon Leonard

View Interview
Producer Sheldon Leonard on Andy Griffith's willingness to subdue his comedy talents being the secret of The Andy Griffith Show's  success
00:40
Producer Sheldon Leonard on the genesis and production of The Andy Griffith Show
10:11

Nancy Malone

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Nancy Malone on appearing on The Andy Griffith Show and why she wanted to do it

Howard Morris

View Interview
Howard Morris on being cast as "Ernest T. Bass" on The Andy Griffith Show by show producer Aaron Ruben, and on the character
01:18
Howard Morris on working with the cast of The Andy Griffith Show, including Griffith and Ron Howard
00:51
Howard Morris on specific episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, where he appeared as "Ernest T. Bass," and on the audience reaction to the character
03:15

Carroll Pratt

View Interview
Carroll Pratt on providing a laugh track for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island, My Favorite Martian, Happy Days, and The Andy Griffith Show
05:16

Gene Reynolds

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Gene Reynolds on directing The Andy Griffith Show
01:54

Lee Rich

View Interview
Lee Rich on shows he packaged - The Andy Griffith Show
00:18

Aaron Ruben

View Interview
Aaron Ruben on how he came to work on The Andy Griffith Show after working on Sgt. Bilko, as a producer
03:31
Aaron Ruben on working with Sheldon Leonard on the cast of the Andy Griffith Show, how the show was a spinoff from the Danny Thomas Show
01:11
Aaron Ruben on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show and on his favorite episode "Opie the Birdman"
04:01
Aaron Ruben on The Andy Griffth Show episode "Opie the Birdman" (cont.)
01:08

Jay Sandrich

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Jay Sandrich on how The Andy Griffith Show was conceived and cast
04:04

Fred Steiner

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Fred Steiner on scoring several episodes of The Andy Griffith Show
02:09

Keith Thibodeaux

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Actor Keith Thibodeaux on playing Opie's friend Johnny Paul Jason on The Andy Griffith Show
07:11

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