60 things you might not know about The Andy Griffith Show
And that's just the tip of the iceberg with this rich, rewarding sitcom.
Technically, The Andy Griffith Show is turning 60 years old. But Mayberry is timeless. No matter how many times you watch, the sitcom always makes you laugh and smile.
And, decades later, there are still things to discover. In fact, there is even a big mystery that remains to this day! (See item 21 for more on that.)
To toast Andy, Opie, Barney, Bee and all the merry Mayberry denizens, here are 60 things you might not know about The Andy Griffith Show. We look forward to telling you many more in the years to come…
1. The Andy Griffith Show creator wanted to take Andy's name off the series title.
Griffith said that creator Sheldon Leonard at one point regretted that they named the show after the actor. He wanted to call to simply call it Mayberry.
2. At first, Mayberry had a totally different name.
The town was actually called Mt. Pilot before it became Mayberry! Andy himself confirmed this fact.
3. Andy's real-life wife Barbara had a tiny role on The Andy Griffith Show.
You can spot her in "Barney and the Choir."
4. Ken Berry's wife showed up in Mayberry long before he did
Jackie Joseph made a memorable dance partner for Ernest T. Bass.
5. Frances Bavier played a different character in the pilot.
Everybody knows Bavier best as Aunt Bee, but in the pilot, the actress portrayed a local widow named Mrs. Henrietta Perkins.
6. Joanna Moore was the first woman to wear pants on The Andy Griffith Show.
Between Ellie Walker and Helen Crump, Peggy is the overlooked lover of Sheriff Andy. She does have one claim to fame, however. She was the first female character wearing pants, as seen in "Opie's Rival."
7. Opie's imaginary horse, Blackie, did actually make an appearance on the show.
"Mr. McBeevee" opens with Opie galloping around the backyard on his imaginary horse, which he has named "Blackie." Being imaginary, Blackie is never seen. Well, not anymore. Those who watched the episode when it originally aired got to see Blackie poke his head through the kitchen window! Barney, Andy and Opie promoted Jell-O Pudding in one of the advertising spots for a show sponsor at the end.
8. Aneta Corsaut named a character "Phil Sunkel" and the real Phil Sunkel sued.
One of the visiting musicians in "The Mayberry Band" is a certain breed of beatnik jazz head. This trumpet player sports a Van Dyke goatee and spouts lines like, "Don't worry about it, daddy." The name of this hornblower is Phil Sunkel. Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen Crump on the show, named the character. She suggested the name to screenwriter Jim Fritzell in tribute to a friend of hers. Corsaut happened to know a cool jazz horn player named Phil Sunkel. Sunkel sued The Andy Griffith Show for $20,000 for using his name without permission.
9. Paul Hartman was the first man to ever win the Tony for Best Actor in a Musical.
He was famous long before playing Emmett Clark. The 1st Annual Tony Awards were presented to the best of Broadway in 1947. That inaugural ceremony did not give out any trophies for leads in musicals, however. In its second year, the Tony Awards created a category for Best Actor in a Musical. Paul Hartman won that first Tony. He earned it for Angel in the Wings, a revue that also featured his talented wife, Grace.
10. Hal Smith played Santa Claus on both The Brady Bunch and The Flintstones.
Outside of Mayberry town drunk Otis Campbell, Smith's most recurring character on television was undoubtedly Ol' Saint Nick himself. Cindy Brady sits on his lap in "The Voice of Christmas." He was even Bedrock's own Santa Claus, voicing the character in The Flintstones series ("Christmas Flintstone") and the 1977 special A Flintstone Christmas.
11. Howard McNear also played a barber on Leave It to Beaver… named Andy!
McNear did not snip his first scissors in Mayberry. In 1958, two years before he joined The Andy Griffith Show (remember, McNear was the second actor to play Floyd the Barber, after Walter Baldwin), McNear played a barber on Leave It to Beaver. In the episode "The Shave," Wally takes a step into manhood and starts shaving. The craziest part? McNear's character is named Andy!
12. Howard McNear had a stroke while working on the show.
After the first season of The Andy Griffith Show, McNear suffered a debilitating stroke which severely limited the motor function on the left side of his body. The cast of the sitcom loved him too much to let him go. The producers and writers catered the show to his physical needs, having Floyd the Barber sit for most of the time.
13. Betty Lynn earned $500 per episode on The Andy Griffith Show.
Lynn admitted she had only seen The Andy Griffith Show twice before she landed a regular role as Thelma Lou. From 1961–66, she acted in 26 episodes, which earned her $500 per appearance.
14. Betty Lynn retired to the real Mayberry.
Lynn lived in Los Angeles until 2006. After an appearance at Mayberry Days in Mount Airy, the former hometown of Andy Griffith that served as the inspiration for Mayberry, she fell in love with the place. After her home was burglarized back in L.A., she made the decision to move to the small Carolina town.
15. Frances Bavier retired to a real town near Mayberry, too.
In 1972, not long after her final appearance on Mayberry R.F.D., Bavier left Hollywood and purchased a home in Siler City, North Carolina. Despite the fact that her TV shows were filmed in California, Bavier noted, "I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees."
16. Andy Griffith discovered Jack Dodson on Broadway.
Jack Dodson (best known as Howard Sprague in Mayberry) was earning acclaim on Broadway. Alongside Jason Robards, he co-starred in Hughie, a two-actor play by Nobel laureate Eugene O'Neill. Andy Griffith happened to catch the show in the Royale Theatre and witnessed the Dodson's performance. That's how Dodson got booked for a role in Mayberry.
17. Opie's good pal Arnold grew up to be a dentist.
In "Opie's First Love," Opie is crushing hard on Mary Alice Carter. He can barely muster the courage to ask her to Arnold Bailey's 13th birthday part. "Even when I ask her for an eraser, my mouth gets all dry," Opie confesses to his friend. "So what's the difference?" Arnold (Sheldon Collins) says. "So you'll have a dry mouth when you ask her." Turns out, Sheldon Collins, real name Dr. Sheldon Golomb, would know a lot about dry mouth. Years after playing Opie's best friend in dozen episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Golomb became a dentist. He even hung a signed photo from Andy Griffith in his office.
18. Andy Griffith wore a bandage on his hand for two episodes after punching a wall.
For two episodes in season two, "Aunt Bee and the Warden" and "The County Nurse," Andy sports a bandage on his right hand. This is quickly explained away onscreen as the result of a scuffle, but in real life, the star had put his fist through a wall in a moment of anger.
19. Sheriff Andy has upside-down maps of Idaho and Nevada behind his desk.
Hey, that's not North Carolina.
20. One actor's identity remains a mystery to this day.
To this day, the man who played Mr. Schwamp (sometimes called Mr. Schwump) remains a mystery. The silent citizen of Mayberry appears in 26 episodes, and even in a Mayberry R.F.D. and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. or two. The extra also pops up in the film Christmas in Connecticut. A few years back, a TAGS fan club claimed to reveal the true identity of this man as an April Fool's joke.
21. A mysterious Mayberry actress was actually the stand-in for Don Knotts.
For years, "Nice Dress Nellie" was just as mysterious as Mr. Schwamp. Turns out, Nice Dress Nellie was the true ''Marvel'' of The Andy Griffith Show.
22. Rockne Tarkington was the first black actor to have a speaking role on the show.
Rockne Tarkington, who has a name any football historian would love, was the first black actor with a credited appearance on the show. He would be the only African American to have dialogue on the sitcom, when he shows up late in season seven, in "Opie's Piano Lesson."
23. Two different Mayberry women played Rob Petrie's mom on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Mrs. Wicks and Mrs. Bixby appear together in "A Plaque for Mayberry"… and also both played Clara Petrie on The Dick Van Dyke Show! Weird!
24. The Governor of North Carolina was also Laura Petrie's dad on The Dick Van Dyke Show.
Did you recognize him in "Barney and the Governor"? Carl Benton Reid played the fictional head of North Carolina in this 1963 episode. Around the same time, he could be found on another sitcom. Reid also played the father of Mary Tyler Moore's character on The Dick Van Dyke Show! Look for "Mr. Meehan" (her maiden name) in "What's in a Middle Name?" and "The Plot Thickens."
25. Ron Howard's dad was the governor's chauffeur.
Speaking of dads… a real-life celebrity father plays a key role in "Barney and the Governor." Rance Howard, the father of Ron Howard, drives the big black Cadillac belonging to the governor. Rance was frequently around the set with his sons, which is why you can also find him as another driver — a bus driver — in "Cousin Virgil."
26. Tinkerbell was thrown in Mayberry's jail.
In "Christmas Story," Old Man Weaver demands that moonshiner Sam Muggins and his family be put in the slammer for the holidays. Margaret Kerry plays the wife, Bess Muggins. You might not recognize her face, but you know her work. She performed as the live-action model for Tinkerbell in the 1953 Disney classic of Peter Pan.
27. Floyd the Barber briefly had a different last name.
Floyd's last name was Colby in one episode, "Mayberry Goes Hollywood," not Lawson! When the town gussies itself up for the Hollywood producer, Floyd's Barbershop briefly becomes "Colby's Tonsorial Parlor."
28. Howard Morris was the voice of "The Masked Singer."
Morris pulled triple duty in "Barney's Bloodhound"! Of course, he appeared as Ernest T. Bass. Early in the episode, Andy and Barney listen to the radio, a broadcast from Mt. Pilot. Morris is both the voice of the WMPD radio announcer and the voice of the "Masked Singer," Leonard Blush, who croons, "Who is Sylvia…" That's right, The Andy Griffith Show had a Masked Singer long before it was a modern reality show sensation.
29. The creator of Saved by the Bell wrote several classic episodes.
Barney and Screech have more in common than you think. Sam Bobrick, the creator of Saved by the Bell, wrote some of the funniest Barney episodes for The Andy Griffith Show. The Air Force veteran and journalism major penned "Barney's Bloodhound," "Barney Fife, Realtor" and the later color episodes that centered around the deputy, including "The Return of Barney Fife" and "A Visit to Barney Fife."
30. Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. wrote a rejected episode.
"I thought maybe I could write Andy Griffith, but then I wrote a script and submitted it, only to find that everything was staff-written," Hamner said.
31. James Best lied about his guitar skills to get cast on The Andy Griffith Show.
"The Guitar Player" couldn’t play a lick!
32. The "Female" of "Ellie Saves a Female" appeared on television just the one time.
Whatever happened to Edris March of ''Ellie Saves a Female,'' you ask? She owned a lingerie line.
33. Ron Howard reunited with Opie's first housekeeper on Happy Days.
Rose never returned to Mayberry, but she popped up on Happy Days! Mary Treen had a role in the episode "Howard's 45th Fiasco."
34. Jerry Van Dyke chose My Mother the Car over a role on The Andy Griffith Show.
Can you picture Van Dyke as Barney's replacement? When Don Knotts left The Andy Griffith Show toward the end of its fifth season, Jerry Van Dyke guest-starred as a carnival musician who becomes a temporary deputy.
35. A Mayberry farmer wrote the lyrics to the show's theme song.
In the second-season episode "The Keeper of the Flame," Everett Sloane portrayed farmer and moonshiner Jubal Foster. Some folks might not know the title of the theme song, "The Fishin' Hole." Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer composed the tune specifically for the show. Sloane wrote the lyrics.
36. The real-life Floyd the Barber cut hair until he was 90 years old.
Andy Griffith himself might have been the only person who was not a fan of this Mount Airy institution.
37. Two of Andy's girlfriends lived in the same Mayberry house.
Helen Crump lived in the little house with the white picket fence marked "323," but so did Andy's girlfriend from earlier in the same season, Peggy McMillan! It's also the location where Andy first falls for Ellie!
38. Denver Pyle was a real-life Jed Clampett!
In the real world, the actor who played Brisco Darling was the true oil tycoon. Denver Pyle, also widely known for his role as Uncle Jessie on The Dukes of Hazard, acted for pleasure, not profit. He became a very wealthy man from "black gold."
39. Don Knotts was a go-kart spokesman while working on The Andy Griffith Show.
In 1962, the West Virginia native was the "ambassador" for McCulloch racing karts.
40. Andy and Barney somehow secretly ended up in Seattle on The Andy Griffith Show.
Andy and Barney head to the state capitol on business in "Andy and Barney in the Big City." The episode shows a couple of establishing shots. We see a city bus drive by the exterior of a hotel. Before that, the camera hovers high over the skyline, showing the skyscrapers and bustling traffic of… Seattle?!
41. The same TV Guide issue with Lucille Ball kept popping up in Mayberry.
The Walker's Drugstore newsstand was more of an antique shop. Did you ever spot this 1954 magazine?
42. The painting hanging above Sheriff Andy's fireplace is a French masterwork that spooked a young Salvador Dali.
The work is titled The Angelus. French artist Jean-François Millet crafted the oil painting in the middle of the 19th century. This oil painting has a hidden image hiding underneath.
43. Arlene Golonka of The Andy Griffith Show had a celebrity roommate — and helped make her famous.
Arlene Golonka played Millie Hutchins in two episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Her role evolved into Millie Swanson on Mayberry R.F.D., which was essentially the same character. Before that, she lived with Valerie Harper — and helped the Rhoda star get her start!
44. The Andy Griffith Show announcer Colin Male made a little onscreen cameo.
Male is the voice you hear above the whistling in the opening credits. He made an appearance onscreen, showing up as the game warden in "Andy and Helen Have Their Day." He also had a tiny scene with Barbara Eden in "The Manicurist"!
45. Andy and Rafe sang together on Broadway long before they knew each other in Mayberry.
Can you imagine Sheriff Andy Taylor and ol' Rafe Hollister together in the Big Apple? A couple of Mayberry boys in New York City? Shucks, it's hard to believe. But it sure happened, it did. They were both in the stage musical Destry Rides Again.
46. Andy Griffith spent half a million dollars on his convertible car.
The TV star drove a car fit for a king — literally. He pumped $581,000 into his 1935 Packard 1202 Convertible.
47. Andy Griffith had his own line of canned beans and ham in the early '70s.
While TAGS had ended in 1968, he kept the spirit of Mayberry alive with a line of Southern foods. "Now… Andy Griffith is bustin' with beans," an advertisement announced in the early '70s. He claimed it was "G-o-o-o-o-d eatin'!"
48. Maggie Peterson got her start singing in the back of pickup trucks.
Her real life was not that far off from her character, Charlene Darling. As a teenager, she toured around the Colorado mountains with a singing group in a 1929 Ford.
49. Burt Mustin started his acting career at the age of 67.
Born in 1884, Mustin was a car salesman for years before retiring (well, from that) and becoming an actor. You know him best as Jud Fletcher in Mayberry.
50. Years after portraying Andy Griffith's wife, Aneta Corsaut played her final role on Matlock.
Once a TV teacher, she worked her way up to judge. The two former lovers reunited one last time in Matlock's courtroom.
51. Don Knotts performed with a ventriloquist dummy named Danny "Hooch" Matador — and threw him into the ocean.
At first, Knotts only performed with a wooden dummy named Danny, including his time serving in an Army comedy troupe during World War II. Is there really a ventriloquist's prop at the bottom of the Pacific?
52. Knotts left The Andy Griffith Show because he thought Andy would end the series after five seasons.
According to Knotts, Andy Griffith repeatedly expressed his desire to end the sitcom after its fifth season. So, during the production of that fifth season, Knotts began to explore a big screen film career, and entered talks with Universal Pictures. TAGS ran for eight years. Oops.
53. Andy Griffith's favorite snack was peanut butter and mayonnaise on crackers.
This seems like an… acquired taste, to put it politely.
54. Andy Griffith had to repeat fourth grade.
There was a good reason. When he was 9 years old — the same age as Opie at the start of season four — Griffith caught a fleet of diseases, everything "except polio." He missed so much school, he was held back in fourth grade.
55. Jack Burns was a crash test dummy in a series of public service announcements.
You know Burns in Mayberry as Barney's replacement, Deputy Warren. For more than a decade, the U.S. Department of Transportation informed TV viewers, "You could learn a lot from a dummy." It was the government's campaign to get drivers and passengers to buckle up in automobiles. The ads featured two talking crash test dummies, Vince and Larry. Burns voiced Vince.
56. Howard Morris had a big hand in your favorite McDonald's commercials and characters.
Morris was the original voice of Mayor McCheese. Plus, he took over for Larry Storch as the Hamburglar in the 1980s. How did "Ernest T. Bass" have such an in with McDonald's? Well, he happened to helm most of the McDonaldland commercials. He directed dozens of the spots.
57. The Brady Bunch's bully began his reign of terror in Mayberry.
Russell Schulman was the blond bully in both "Opie and Mike" and the Brady episode "A Fistful of Reasons." Not to mention other sitcoms!
58. A sign reading "ER HAJWZK B" in "The Inspector" remains a mystery, too.
Who the heck is Hajwzk? We tried to find an answer.
59. The woman who played Barney Fife's mom owned more of Mayberry than you realize.
Lillian Culver has deep ties to television production history. Culver City, California, has that name for a reason. She played Barney's mom in "The Manhunt" and happened to own the land upon which the Mayberry studio sat.
60. The villain in "High Noon in Mayberry" was actually a real troublemaker who did time in San Quentin.
Leo Gordon served time in prison for armed robbery! No wonder he was so convincing!