Before he was Barney Hefner, Allan Melvin was a cop who sent Archie to jail on All in the Family

Barney wasn't always a pal to Archie.

Sony Pictures Television

Being Archie Bunker's best friend is a tough job, but somebody's got to do it. It turns out that someone is actor Allan Melvin, better known as Barney Hefner. Barney was arguably one of Archie's closest friends, and when All in the Family transitioned into Archie Bunker's Place, the character was expanded a great deal more.

A bit more soft-spoken than Archie, Barney was always quick with a joke or an easygoing word of advice. However, according to an interview with the Associated Press, Melvin's introduction to All in the Family wasn't as a friend of Archie at all. It was a combative police officer who was the target of one of Archie's tirades in an episode.

"The fun of that episode was that Archie came down to the police station and was making remarks about the Polish," Melvin said. "Somebody says, 'Oh, yeah, tell that to Sgt. Pulaski — and I throw Archie into the can."

But in a matter of episodes, Melvin was reintroduced to All in the Family as a completely new character. "I went in the same season from Pulaski to Barney Hefner," he said. "I think they make allowances for the fact that the audience will accept certain changes. I guess they figured since it was a one-shot I wasn't that established. I've been Barney ever since."

As Archie Bunker's right-hand man, Melvin was able to explain how Barney and Archie are alike. "He's very much like Archie in his thinking and his values," he said. "But not to the extreme that Archie goes. He's more temperate."

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6 Comments

Runeshaper 6 days ago
Great story, MeTV! Reminds us to value our friends and the friendships we share (-:
ElizabethBoop 7 days ago
Playing multiple roles on the same series was Melvin's strong suit. In eight seasons of The Andy Griffith Show, he appeared eight times, each time as a different character.
KentuckyPhil69 8 days ago
I'm so old I remember when Mr Melvin was Magilla Gorilla 😂
Gorilla for sale!
cperrynaples 8 days ago
Vincent Gardinia {SP?] may have been the most flexable guest star! He went from racist to wife swaper to outrageous chef!
harlow1313 8 days ago
I shake a fist and extend a middle finger in the direction of Sgt. Hacker. The scoundrel.
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