Don Knotts landed on The Andy Griffith Show thanks to a friendly card game

A friendly card game turned into an idea that eventually gave Don Knotts his career-defining role.

Fans of the The Andy Griffith Show know that the first episode of season one titled "The New Housekeeper" wasn't actually the pilot episode for the series.

The pilot was via The Danny Thomas Show, known prior to a network switch as Make Room for Daddy.

In season seven, a new episode called "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" was airing on a Monday night. In this pilot, several actors we would come to know and love on TAGS were different, as were the police cars and the station layout.

Plus, Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife was nowhere to be found.

That's because his character hadn't been created yet. Don Knotts, Mayberry's eventual deputy sherrif, wasn't originally cast in the show at all. The only reason he landed on The Andy Griffith Show is because he just so happened to see the pilot episode.

When "Danny Meets Andy Griffith" aired, Knotts and his friend, stage actor Pat Harrington Jr., happened to be playing a friendly card game together.

"We were playing bridge with them one night and he said, 'I want to stop and watch The Danny Thomas Show' because they were thinking about using Pat on the show," Knotts said in an Archive of American Television interview from 1999. 

"It turned out they were doing a pilot of The Andy Griffith Show that night. I didn't even know it, Andy was still back in New York, so I hadn't seen him in a long time. So when I saw this sheriff in a small town I said, 'he could use a deputy.'" 

The Andy Griffith Show wasn't the first time Knotts and Griffith had worked together. The two co-starred in the 1958 film No Time for Sergeants. Though Griffith and Knotts hadn't spoke to one another for some time, it didn't stop Knotts from picking up the phone and taking his best swing.

"So I called him in New York and he said 'that's a hell of an idea,'" Knotts added.

Griffith put Knotts in touch with highly-acclaimed creator and executive producer Sheldon Leonard, who had plenty of appearances throughout classic television to pair with his behind the scenes success.

"I went in and talked to Sheldon [and] we kicked it around for a while. I waited several weeks and finally got the call to come in and do the show."

And just like that, Barney Fife was born. Knotts admits he didn't know what the character would be from the start, but got a pretty good idea once scripts were in hand.

"I didn't create the character in the beginning," Knotts said. "The writers wrote him in, but like all running parts in TV, each week you'd add something then they'd add something and the character just built as we went."

To think, what if Mr. Harrington hadn't wanted to end the game of bridge early and turn on the television? Knotts may have never seen the back-door pilot to The Andy Griffith Show and fans may have never gotten the chance to know the clumsy, dedicated deputy sheriff of Mayberry.

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Pacificsun 5 hours ago
Pulleeze give us a new story! 🙃
JHP 11 hours ago
so who was the Jinx that made the loser a loser?

bagandwallyfan52 JHP 8 hours ago
On The Andy Griffith Show a man with the name Henry
Bennett was The TOWN JINX
I don't remember the name of the actor who played Henry Bennett.
Moody bagandwallyfan52 6 hours ago
The actor's name was John Qualen.
bagandwallyfan52 21 hours ago
Load previous comments
Pacificsun JHP 4 hours ago
Sorry, I thought you said Kolchak.

Yeah, I know, only 22 episodes!
And the occasion would be .......?




Here's 😀 tip:

When you come across something that's fun to share, and MeTV runs, go to Shows, click on the image, click on the links to different Shows of the same name. And add you contributions into the Thread which belongs to the Name of the Show, any Episode (which is a link). That way, fans of a particular Show, do go there, to read more about their favorite. Some of them come to MeTV (as a site) late, and want to catch up. Which means you can add fun things, like some of your favorite Episodes. Which helps to make that a more popular Show, as well, when more people discover it.
2 Halloween Fun Episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show -
It May Look Like A Walnut with
Guest Star Danny Thomas and
The Ghost of a Chanz episode set in Haunted Cabin.
Mel Cooley : Richard Deacon.
bagandwallyfan52 21 hours ago
The Ghost of a Chanz episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show.
One of my favourite episodes.
ELEANOR 2 days ago
It's called serendipity. That's when you're in just the right place at the right time and sometimes it seems to be an accidental meeting, a long traffic light or a dog barking. It can be anything that causes you to be somewhere or not somewhere and boom, something interesting happens like turning on the TV at exactly the right moment.
Pacificsun ELEANOR 4 hours ago
.... 🙃 or perhaps a series of clips
bagandwallyfan52 3 days ago
The first time that Andy Griffith
Played Andy Taylor was on
Make Room For Daddy starring
Danny Thomas.
bagandwallyfan52 3 days ago
https and ://
Parady of Stranger In Town episode of The Andy Griffith
Show with ED SAWYER played
By William Lanteau.
Andybandit 3 days ago
That is an interesting way how Don Knots got his role on the TAGS.
Peter_Falk_Fan 3 days ago
Well, of course a sheriff needs a deputy. And it paid off for Don in the form of five Emmys (out of five nominations).
Of course 😊 after Warren Ferguson decided to leave
Mayberry Andy didn't hire a new deputy and thus Andy no longer
had a deputy.
Pacificsun 3 days ago
For the reason that TAGS is mentioned so often, so is "The Danny Thomas Show" aka "Make Room for Daddy." I have no idea why, during a summer break from grammar school one year, I got attracted to that show (MRFD). For some weird reason it was paired with The Three Stooges, and made for afternoon TV watching. Given that afternoon Soaps were really popular back then, these Shows must've stood out, as the alternative entertainment.
ncadams27 Pacificsun 2 days ago
Back in the 60’s, ABC and CBS aired reruns in daytime slots such as I Love Lucy, Beverly Hillbillies, The Andy Griffith Show (Andy of Mayberry), and Dick Van Dyke mornings on CBS; ABC aired Donna Reed and Father Knows Best starting at noon. MAKE Room For Daddy aired on ABC in the afternoon. There were others, but these are the ones I remember. Most TV markets had an afternoon show, typically with a local host, airing cartoons and the Three Stooges.
ncadams27 ncadams27 1 day ago
Correction - Make Room for Daddy aired in the afternoon at 4 PM on NBC.
Andy Taylor AKA Andy Griffith made his First Appearance playing the sheriff of Mayberry
On Make Room For Daddy starring Danny Thomas.
Andy Griffith made his First Appearance playing Andy Taylor
On Make Room For Daddy starring Danny Thomas.
Pacificsun 3 days ago
Great story, they always are involving The Andy Griffith Show. There're so many layers to it. The people behind it really cared. What a difference it it made regarding the legacy they left behind.
LoveMETV22 3 days ago
Seeing we had a story on how Don Knott's landed his role on Tags, and it mentioned Pat Harrington Jr. in the story. Might as well give Mr. Harrington a few moments on how he landed his role on
" 𝗢𝗻𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝘁 𝗔 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲."
Michael LoveMETV22 3 days ago
Pat Harrington has an incredible number of credits, starting in 1948. So he was more than One Day at a Time.

His father was an actor too, born in Canada.
LoveMETV22 Michael 3 days ago
Scroll down As I had mentioned that as well in my previous post.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 3 days ago
That's so neat! How'd you know the Clip was out there? It was interesting for me at least to see PHJ being himself, and thankfully so. Because that character in ODAAT always annoyed me. But look at how good an actor he was! I love it when that kind of an actor demonstrates his initiative!

Thank you for sharing!
justjeff Michael 3 days ago
Harrington also appeared on the Danny Thomas Show...
cperrynaples justjeff 8 hours ago
Yes, as the Italian golf pro he played on Steve Allen as well as the Man From UNCLE!
LoveMETV22 3 days ago
The TAGS stories are usually interesting. Particularly in this story " his friend, stage actor
"𝗣𝗮𝘁 𝗛𝗮𝗿𝗿𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘁𝗼𝗻 𝗝𝗿." happened to be playing a friendly card game together."
PHJr. remembered as "𝗦𝗰𝗵𝗻𝗲𝗶𝗱𝗲𝗿" on " 𝗢𝗻𝗲 𝗗𝗮𝘆 𝗮𝘁 𝗮 𝗧𝗶𝗺𝗲 ." . of course he appeared on other shows as well.
However the story about how Don Knott's landed on TAGS is interesting in itself.
I wonder how Spike (Danny
Butch) on Happy Days and
Peggy McMillan Joanna Moore
On The Andy Griffith Show landed their gigs .
Spike and Peggy McMillans
Gigs both lasted for 4 Episodes ONLY.
Runeshaper 3 days ago
It's amazing how one choice can lead to so much (-:
Yes, could you ever imagine Harrington as Barney? Bonus Question: On what show did Harrington & Knotts work together?
Laugh Back (1975).
Pacificsun Runeshaper 3 days ago
There's an actor's saying: It's always about Talent and the right Timing!!
Well, i'll accept that because it was a compilation of clips from The Steve Allen Show, which also featured Louis Nye & Tom Poston!
FrankensteinLover 3 days ago
A Comic Genius, Wish I could have met him.
The Andy Griffith Show reruns will live FOREVER on METV
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