The Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show ran from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 episodes, and it was a hit. Today, the show is still played in reruns on multiple networks, and the entire series is available on DVD. If you are a fan of the show, you may think that you know everything. There are some things that even the most die-hard fans don’t know. What Happened To Opie’s Mother & Other Andy Griffith Show…
On the show, Andy and Barney Fife were best friends on the show. What many viewers didn’t know was they played such great friends on the show because they were best friends in real life. Both men grew up during the Great Depression in poverty. Andy grew up in North Carolina, and Don grew up in West Virginia. This is something that the men bonded over and became best friends.
No Time For Sergeants
Andy and Don didn’t first meet on the set of The Andy Griffith Show. Their friendship began when they were co-stars in the 1958 film adaption of the Broadway play, No Time For Sergeants. This was where they met, and they remained best friends their entire lives. When Don died in 2006, Andy was by his bedside. Andy died six years later when he was 86-years-old.
On the set of The Andy Griffith Show, Andy loved to play pranks. He liked to target Don Knotts most of all. Don’s real name was Jesse, and he hated it. This is something that Andy liked to tease him about it. This is the opposite of their characters. By the second episode, Andy says that Don was really funny, and his character should be as well.
Getting Him Back
The cast decided to prank Andy back one day, and they stole his shoes from his dressing room. That night, he had to wear his big Sheriff boots home. He took the joke in stride, and the off-screen pranks moved on-screen. In the episode, Runaway Kid, Opie, and his friends pranked Sheriff Taylor by moving his car in front of a fire hydrant so that he would get a ticket.
The Show’s Opening
The opening of the show has the show’s tune whistled, while Andy and Opie walk together to go fishing. The scene was filmed at Franklin Canyon Park, which is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Throwing a Rock
When Ronny Howard started starring as Opie, he was only 6-years-old. He wasn’t strong enough back then to throw a stone far enough into the lake. He tried several times but failed, so the assistant director had an idea to solve the problem. He had a prop guy stand behind a bush, and when Ronny pretended to throw the rock, he threw it instead. If you watch the scene carefully, you might be able to catch the lag between the throw and the splash.
Aunt Bee Had No Sense Of Humor
Frances Bavier is the actress who played Aunt Bee on the show. She was said not to have much of a sense of humor. She was born into an affluent family in New York, and she was very sophisticated. She attended Columbia University and later, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Because of all this, she didn’t find the off-screen antics of her co-stars humorous.
Jim Nabor’s Passing
Jim Nabors played Gomer Pyle, and he was loved. When he was 87-years-old, his husband, Stan Cadwallader, was with him at the time. He had been battling with health issues for quite some time and had a liver transplant about 20 years before he died. His health started to decline shortly before he died on November 30, 2017. When his husband made a statement, he said, “Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed.”
On the show, Andy Taylor and Helen Crump were a couple off-screen, it is believed that Andy and the actress who played Helen, Aneta Corsaut, were lovers in real life. Andy was married at the time, so they were trying to keep things quiet. The couple was outed during one of the cast’s many practical jokes. As a prank, one of the crew members dressed up as a waiter and delivered dinner to Andy’s room. The crew member was shocked when he caught Andy and Aneta in a compromising position. This discovery was not part of the prank. Andy and his wife later divorced. During his life, he was married three times.
As mentioned earlier, Andy and Frances had a tense relationship during the show because she didn’t approve of their off-screen antics. Fortunately, the two patched things up before she died in 1089. Shortly before she died, Francis called Andy and apologized for being difficult during filming. It meant a lot to Andy to be able to clear things up and speak to her one more time.
Andy’s and Ronny’s Favorite Episodes
Every cast member had one episode that they considered their favorite. Andy’s favorite episode was in season three, Barney’s first Car. In the episode, Barney uses his life savings to buy an old car, but it ends up not working.
Ronny’s favorite episode was The Ball Game, and his father, Rance Howard, wrote it. Throughout the series, Rance helped write and act in five of the episodes.
Don’s Favorite Episode
Don Knott’s favorite episode was The Pickle Story, and it is a fan favorite as well. In the episode, Aunt Bee made a huge batch of pickles that were so disgusting that Barney referred to them as “kerosene cucumbers.” Due to a number of hilarious events, Andy and Barney had to consume eight quarts of the nasty pickles. The episode is funny, and it is obvious that the men had a great time filming it.
They Quit While They Were Ahead
The Andy Griffith Show ended when it was at the top of the Nielsen’s Ratings. There have only been three shows to do this in television history. I Love Lucy was the first, and the last episode aired on May 6, 1957. The Andy Griffith Show was second, which ended on April 1, 1968. Seinfeld was the third, which ended on May 14, 1998. Each of these shows ended on a high note, and all three are still playing in reruns.
Many actors on the show arrived on the set for the first day of filming without a contract. Don Knotts was one of them. This meant that Barney Fife could have been on the show for just one episode, which would have been awful. He is one of the most adored characters on the show. In 1999, he was ranked 9th on TV Guide’s 50 Greatest TV Characters Of All Time.
The Show’s biggest Mystery
Opie’s mother and Andy’s wife is one of the biggest mysteries on the show. She is only mentioned in one episode. It was during Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee. Andy gets nostalgic, watching Aunt Bee prepare for his wedding, and he tells Opie how much he loved his mother. For the rest of the series, viewers never hear about Opie’s mother, and they never show a photo of her.
In the Danny Thomas Show, which spawned The Andy Griffith Show, Andy says that his wife died when Opie was just “the least little speck of a baby.”
Producers know that when two actors have chemistry that it will totally make the show. The producers were so impressed by the chemistry between Andy and Don that they wrote up contracts for both men for one year after filming the episode. Later, they were given a 5-year contract. During the second of the episode, Manhunt, Andy realized that Don should be the comic, and he should play straight and let Don shine. Most people believe that this decision made the show the success that it was.
Andy’s Patrol Car
The patrol car that Andy and Barney drove on the show was a Ford Galaxie. Each time a new model of the car came out, a local dealership would give the show a free replacement. When they did, they would take back the old car. After repainting it, they would sell it. Since the show was so popular, they probably could have made a lot more money had they sold the car the way it was when they got it back. Throughout the show’s eight seasons, there were ten different cars used. The show was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company, which is why most people believe the squad car was always a Ford Galaxie 500 sedan. Today, there are plenty of replicas out there.
The Actors After the Show
When the show ended, many of the actors moved on to different roles. While many of them are no longer with us today, they all left their marks on television forever.
Ron Howard was known as Ronnie Howard back them. After playing Opie, the next role that made his a star was Richie on Happy Days. Today, he works as a director. Over the years, she has won plenty of awards for his work. He won the National Medal of Art and was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013. Finally, he has not one but two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
After the show ended, Frances remained in North Carolina. She fell in love with the state, so she chose not to return to New York City. She lived in Siler City, North Carolina, and in 1972, she retired. After retiring, she lived a reclusive life. She lived alone in her Siler city home, and she barely left. She was very private, and she spent most of her time in a large room in the back of the house that was barely furnished. It contained a bed, desk, television, and an end table which she stocked with her glasses and black licorice.
After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Jim Nabors continued to play Gomer Pyle in a spin-off show, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. The show follows Gomer after he joins the Marines. He has a great singing voice and has recorded 28 albums throughout his career. In 2013, he came out publicly as gay, and he married his long-time partner of 38-years.
Aneta Corsaut played Helen Crump, Andy’s girlfriend. Before she starred on the show, she was studying drama at Northwestern University. She dropped out of college to pursue her acting career, and when the show ended, she continued her education at UCLA. Aneta returned for two of the show’s reunions. The first was in Return to Mayberry in 1986, then The Andy Griffith Show Reunion in 1993. She made appearances in dozens of TV shows, including Gunsmoke, The Runaways, and Rich Man, Poor Man. In 1995, she passed away after a battle with cancer, and she is buried in Hollywood.
Hal Smith played Otis, Mayberry’s resident drunk. When Otis would get drunk, he would let himself into the jail cell. He would sleep it off in the bed in the cell, and let himself out in the morning. After the Andy Griffith Show ended, Hal landed many voice-over roles for TV and film. He played Owl in Winnie the Pooh, John Avery in Adventures in Odyssey, and Uncle Tex in The Flintstones. His wife passed away in 1992, and his health deteriorated shortly after. In 1994, he died of a heart attack.
Floyd was Andy’s slow thinking, absent-minded barber. He was played by Howard McNear. In 1969, just two years after he left the show due to health problems, he died of a stroke. Decades later, Kurt Cobain wrote a song called Floyd the Barber, for his band Nirvana’s album, Bleach. The story that Kurt tells in the song has many residents of Mayberry murder him.
George Lindsey played Gomer Pyle’s cousin, Goober. On the show, Goober was known for the “Goober Dance,” and his Cary Grant impressions. After the show ended, he had roles in Hee Haw, The Twilight Zone, and Gunsmoke, among others. He was a charitable man, and through his charity, the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament, he raised over $1,000,000 throughout 17-years. The proceeds went to the Alabama Special Olympics. In 2012, he died at the age of 83.
Don Knotts played Barney Fife, and after the show ended, he played Ralph Furley on Three’s Company. He also starred in many other TV shows and movies. Right before Don passed away, Andy went to visit him in the hospital. He later recalled his final words to his dear friend. He said, “I know that he could hear me, and we all believe that he could hear my voice. I told him that I love 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.’ His shoulder moved, so I believe he heard my voice.”
When the show ended, Andy starred in many TV shows, but none of them took off. In 1986, he landed the role of lawyer, Ben Matlock, and the show was titled, Matlock. It was a huge hit. His former co-star, Aneta Corsaut, appeared in seven episodes of the show. In 1983, he became ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome but recovered. He also went through a quadruple bypass in 2000. In 2012, he died of a heart attack. He is buried on Roanoke Island in North Carolina, which he loved.