Andy Griffith once owned a dog named Lemley Gilbert named after a distant cousin

Andy's cousin Lemley Gilbert is referenced in The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Here's his rarely told story.

Photo credit: Two Chairs No Waiting Podcast via Facebook

For the opening scene of The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie’s Fortune", Andy and Barney are sitting side by side, each reading different sections of the local newspaper.

Andy’s got the front page, but Barney’s deeper in, reading a local gossip column, which leads him to share how he happened to be privy to some juicy gossip of his own.

When Andy asks how he knows about the inside details of a local couple’s divorce, Barney responds: "Do you know Phoebe Gilbert, Lemley Gilbert’s sister down at the beauty parlor? Well I took her out a couple times and she told me."

On The Andy Griffith Show, the name Lemley Gilbert is only mentioned this one time, but it’s a distinct enough name that some fans of the spin-off show Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. smiled when they heard it repeated on this other show in the Mayberry universe.

On Gomer Pyle, Lemley Gilbert is the name that Gomer gives a German shepherd originally called Killer in the episode "Gomer Un-Trains a Dog".

The repetition of this unusual name was enough to lead some fans to wonder whether there really was a Lemley Gilbert in the real world, and as it turns out, yes there was.

According to The Virginian-Pilot, a batch of old photos of Andy Griffith were dug up one day, and they revealed the truth about Lemley Gilbert.

The photos were taken at Andy’s home in North Carolina, which he shared with his wife Barbara in 1957. Some of the photos show Griffith’s parents, while others show Andy and Barbara surveying a movie script for The Face in the Crowd. But there are two photos that we took particular interest in most of all.

One showed Andy and Barbara with a small West Highland terrier puppy on a dock following a boat ride. The other showed Andy Griffith in a rocking chair with the same puppy in his lap.

That dog, the captions say, was named Lemley Gilbert, and he was given that name, the paper reported, because Andy so admired a Baptist preacher by that name who happened to be one of his distant cousins.

Griffith was known to throw backyard barbecues where he’d grill hot dogs for the cast, and surely his dog Lemley Gilbert would’ve been around for episode writers to meet. The Gomer episode was written by two Andy Griffith Show alums, creator Aaron Ruben and pilot co-writer Jack Elinson. Most likely the name used on the show is referencing the dog that Griffith owned.

But now you know both the dog Lemley Gilbert you saw on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., and the random Mayberry townsperson named Lemley Gilbert who is mentioned but never seen, are both based on a real dog and a real man, and that both dog and man were extremely close to Andy Griffith’s heart.

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bagandwallyfan52 31 months ago
Betty Lynn
Thelma Lou
The Andy Griffith Show
Passed Away 2021
Age 95
Mcgeath 31 months ago
I like The waltons. I like rifleman. I like Bonanza.
Catman 32 months ago
1. I have a dog named Table. Table? Why do you call your dog Table? He has 4 legs.
2. I have a dog with no nose. No nose? How does he smell? Terrible.
Thank you and good night.
NickG 32 months ago
Wow. We learn their really is a Lemley Gilbert; and just recently, Sgt Carter learns their really is a Goober. And people say TVs not educational!
Moriyah 32 months ago
Btw, do any of y'all wish they made a Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. Funko Pop series? (Let me know. You can also vote here: Make sure you're logged in before you cast your vote)
Zip 32 months ago
And here I thought that Gomer thought up the name for his training dog out of the top of his head(or the writer's heads anyway). Never knew there were real dogs and people associated with it. Neat story!
Pacificsun 32 months ago
Lemely is a name I've never heard before.

Any follower out there, named Lemely (just curious)!!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 32 months ago
I did a very quick search on as a first name) Lemley is the 1,951,561st Most Common name in the World. it also said "29 people bear this name" according to their data. Who knows maybe there are more . LoL
texasluva Pacificsun 32 months ago
Movies coming to you this weekend.

Two wonderful movies for your weekend viewing.

The Illusionist (2006)


Shadow of a Doubt (1943)
Pacificsun 32 months ago
Great story and a heap of research!!! You made it look easy, but it wasn't. The background is what makes TAGS so much fun.

Do certain MeTV writers specialize in which shoes? Just curious!!
Andybandit 32 months ago
Cute story. I love dogs and cats.
Moriyah 32 months ago
That was very interesting! I had no idea that the dog and the person were related or something like that! Who all didn't know that? (Let me know)
Pacificsun Moriyah 32 months ago
I don't remember the Gomer Pyle dog episode, do you? I remember the cat, the episode they had on last week though.
Moriyah Pacificsun 32 months ago
I remember both of them! I'll send you the link to the episode right here:
Pacificsun Moriyah 32 months ago
I LOVE it! And I've never seen it! So far it's my favorite episode (because I'm a sucker for dogs!).

Did you know from a training standpoint they use different dogs in place of each other (even if only a couple are featured) which do certain things better than others? Some are naturally more affectionate or assertive and on it goes. These are beautiful German Shepherds with similar markings, very consistent!

What a great episode featuring Gomer Pyle's personality perfectly. I enjoy how everything always turns out in his favor!

Thank you for sharing!
Moriyah Pacificsun 32 months ago
You're welcome! I love that episode too! I'm glad you like it as well
LoveMETV22 32 months ago
Interesting story. Looks like the dog got top billing in it with a sprinkling of the distant cousin, Barney and Gomer. But the photos from the Virginian- Pilot were cool.
Runeshaper 32 months ago
That's a pretty cool story. Lemley Gilbert definitely made his way into the hearts and minds of many (-:
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