Actress Aneta Corsaut was first introduced as the character Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show in the season three episode, Andy Discovers America.
Reportedly, Cosaut’s character was given the peculiar name Helen Crump specifically because she was only ever supposed to be a one-off character who wasn’t going to stick around long enough for viewers to begin to wonder why such an attractive woman had such an off-putting name.
However, as fate would have it, Corsaut and Griffith had such phenomenal chemistry that the show’s writers ended up keeping Ms. Crump around. And as most fans of the series likely remember, she ended up becoming the girl who taught the widower sheriff how to love again. Eventually, the two would even get married.
That being said, the sparks that flew in the sleepy little town known as Mayberry weren’t exactly electric from the get-go. In fact, shortly after Helen Crump was introduced, Andy took it upon himself to step in and make sure that their romance didn’t move too quickly. Griffith wanted Andy and Opie’s schoolteacher’s romance to develop nice and slowly.
On top of that, he felt a little uneasy about the romantic turn that the wholesome sitcom had taken. While the topic of courtship had been explored on the program before, Griffith never intended his show to be unduly focused on the subject. Because of this, he went out of his way to ensure that Andy and Helen’s love life was never the primary focus of the series.
Keep watching to learn how Aneta Corsaut and Andy Griffith only ever made love with their eyes while on the set of The Andy Griffith Show but didn’t mind things getting hot and heavy when the cameras weren’t rolling.
Griffith Got Uncomfortable
In 1964, just one year after Helen Crump sowed up in the town of Mayberry, North Carolina, Griffith told the AP about a time when he and Corsaut were rehearsing a scene that made him feel particularly uncomfortable about the show’s newfound romantic shift.
The scene in question called for Helen and Andy to linger outside of the sheriff’s station while Andy worked up the nerve to lean in for a kiss with the object of his affection. At the last minute, however, Andy got nervous and ducked inside the office where Barney was.
Andy told the AP that he didn’t like the way that this scene reflected upon his character’s image one bit. He called it ‘too much’ before suggesting that it would have been better if Andy and Helen merely ‘made love with’ their eyes a bit instead.
More than the timing of the kiss, Andy had an issue with the PDA that the scene called for. This is evidenced by Griffith statement saying that he didn’t think the characters would have made what he referred to as ‘physical love’ in public.
Now we might chuckle at this comment, seeing as how sexuality in all of it’s forms are explicitly featured on TV shows these days, but back then, even something as innocuous as an on-screen kiss could have been seen as being somewhat proactive.
Fortunately for Griffith, since his name was attached to the show and the episode’s director Al Rafkin seemed to agree with him that the scene didn’t feel quite right, they ended up writing the almost-kiss out of the episode entirely.
Griffith suggested that instead of going with the original scenario, instead it would be funnier if Don Knotts showed up and broke the two lovebirds up by walking between them. Once Don was added to the scene, Griffith was much more pleased with the finished episode.
He felt like it represented far more accurately what audiences had come to expect from the characters. Barney was always showing up at inopportune moments like that, obliviously becoming the pesky third wheel while stealing the scene.
This was just one notable example of how Andy was very apprehensive about allowing romantic plotlines to dominate the show once Helen Crump had been introduced. Throughout their courtship, Griffith insisted that the TV couple’s romance remain conservative. This remained true even after things started getting serious between them. Later in their romance, they did enjoy the occasional kiss, but only ever in private.
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Aneta Corsaut Didn’t Mind Andy’s Decision To ‘Take It Slow”
Aneta Corsaut once quipped to the Shreveport Journal back in 1967 that Andy never had a clue that Helen had any sex appeal. She went on to describe how throughout the series, the two characters slowly were permitted to touch more often, but Andy, just as his character was in the series, still insisted on shying away from it.
Corsaut had no qualms, however, with the pace of her and Andy’s character’s romance, and she was perfectly happy becoming a member of the Mayberry community.
After some time had gone by and Corsaut got the opportunity to rewatch the series several times, she said that she appreciated how Andy and Helen’s romance developed slowly. After all of these years, she said that when watching her own scenes, she often realized how she hadn’t fully remember exactly how everything played out.
Talking to the Jackson Sun in 1990, Corsaut said that when reviewing the show, it was a lot like watching someone who looked like her deliver her lines.
Even though audiences missed out on seeing what might have been an even more steamy romance between Helen and Andy if Griffith hadn’t cautiously limited the number of their early love scenes, it can still be argued that the love that they did share on-screen was even more moving because of Griffith’s meticulous oversight.
Just like so many other character actors featured on the show, Corsaut developed a unique bond with not only Andy but also with the series’ fans, whose undying love for Helen Crump has left her feeling touched for years.
Corsaut always considered it a blessing whenever she got a chance to meet up with fans of The Andy Griffith Show. In fact, she once referred to them as some of the kindest, gentlest people she had ever met.
How Helen Crump Got Her “Ugly Name”
It’s been said that the surname ‘Crump’ was selected due to it’s resemblance to the sound that a clod of mud would make when hitting pavement. Perhaps when the writers were coming up with it, they combined the word clump with grump.
Regardless of the specifics of it’s origins, the name Crump was given to Corsaut’s character intentionally as a joke. The audience first hears of her when Opie was complaining about his new teacher at the family table. In that scene, he referred to her as ‘Old Lady Crump’.
The name was supposed to invoke the image of some old spinster. That way, when Andy actually got around to meeting her in person halfway through the episode, he would be taken aback by her being a beautiful young lady.
The joke simply wouldn’t have hit the same if her name had been something like “Angela Smith”.
And that’s not just our personal opinion. In Gustave Perez Firmat’s book A Cuban in Mayberry: Looking Back at America’s Hometown, it’s revealed that the writer of the episode, John Whedon, thought of Corsaut’s character as being nothing more than a schoolmarm.
On a quick side-note, if that name sounds familiar, that’s because John Whedon was the father of Joss Whedon, the writer and director of Marvels Avenger’s film and the creator of Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Yes, just as we alluded to earlier, Helen Crump was never intended to be anything more than a ‘one-and-done’ character. That’s why they picked such an unpleasant-sounding name for her.
Andy And Aneta Had A Real Off-Set Romance
Despite his wholesome image and the fact that he was married with two kids, Andy Griffith and Aneta Corsaut had a steamy off-camera affair that everyone in the show’s cast knew about it.
Author Daniel de Vise wrote in his book Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show that Andy couldn’t get enough of Aneta.
Apparently, Andy eventually even proposed to his co-star even though he and his first wife Barbara were still married at the time. De Vise revealed in his book that Andy popped the question not just once but up to three times. Each and every time, however, Aneta turned him down.
While the couple attempted to keep their courtship a secret, at some point, everyone in the cast and crew became aware of it and proceeded to let Andy and Aneta know that they knew what was going on.
On one evening, crew members played a practical joke on the covert couple by having a young female crew member don a waiter’s uniform and deliver a meal to the Hollywood hotel where Andy and Aneta were spending a lot of ‘quality time’. Needless to say, Andy was livid.
The daughter of show director Bob Sweeney told de Vise that even though Andy and Aneta were trying their best to keep their affair on the down low and they truly believed that nobody knew what they were up to, in reality, everyone knew.
In the end, Corsaut would never marry nor have any children. On November 6, 1995, she died of cancer in Los Angeles, California.
Andy, on the other hand, would marry three times – first to Barbara Bray Edwards, whom he was wed to from 1949 to 1972.
He exchanged marriage vows with his second wife Solicia Cassuto in 1973. They remained together until 1981.
Griffith’s third and final wife was Cindi Knight, whom he married in 1983. She remained by his side until his death at the age of 86 on July 3, 2012.
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Do you think that Andy Griffith’s decision to tone down his character’s romance with Helen Crump was a good one or would you have liked to see the two character’s indulge a bit more in their affection for each either? Let us know in the comments.
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