Before he was Floyd the Barber on 'Andy,' Howard McNear was Andy the Barber on 'Beaver'

He helped Wally become a man.

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Wally gets a shave from Mayberry’s own Howard McNear!
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Howard McNear will forever be associated with his role as Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show. He deserves credit for crafting another iconic television character, one that he never played onscreen. In the original Gunsmoke radio program, from 1952-61, McNear portrayed Doc Adams. The writers initially conceived Doc as a dark, greedy character. Heck, the name "Doc Adams" was a homage to Charles Addams, creator of the morbid Addams Family. But McNear's warm personality and increasingly sympathetic performances turned the character into the kind-hearted physician we know and love, the one played perfectly by Milburn Stone on the TV show.

McNear was an old pro on the radio by that point. His career over the radio airwaves dated back to the 1930s. Like so many successful radio actors, he eventually made the leap to pictures. 

The California native turned up in dozens of early television series, unsurprisingly playing trusted tradesmen. He was Little Ricky's music teacher on I Love Lucy and a friendly plumber with a ridiculous name (Cuthbert Jantzen) on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show.

But he would become best known as a barber. And The Andy Griffith Show was not his first time holding a pair of scissors.

In 1958, McNear landed a small part in a coming-of-age tale on Leave It to Beaver. Wally flashes his skills as a freshman in a football game, which makes his old pal Eddie Haskell jealous. To prove his superior manhood, Eddie, in turn, brags about how he's begun shaving. Wally's unripened peach fuzz makes him green with envy, so he "borrows" Ward's razor to run over his few, faint hairs. Naturally, he mangles his face. This leads to some stern parenting from Ward, and a sore (on both his face and in his heart) Wally.

In the end, all is well as the episode wraps up inside a barbershop, manned by a friendly barber. What better man to play the barber than Howard McNear? Ironically, his character's name is "Andy." It just has a friendly ring to it.

McNear later moved his fictional barbershop from Mayfield to Mayberry, where he became the beloved Floyd Lawson.

He was not the first man to play Floyd. For a single episode in season one, Walter Baldwin portrayed the Mayberry barber. By the next episode, however, McNear had settled into the role and immediately made it his own. Over the seasons, Floyd's role became more and more prominent on the series. But you might notice a significant gap in his credits between seasons three and four.

In 1963, McNear suffered a debilitating stroke that nearly paralyzed the left side of his body. Andy Griffith, along with the rest of the cast and crew, encouraged their adored costar to carry on. McNear stayed on The Andy Griffith Show, as writers accommodated the actor by having his character sit in most scenes. If Floyd was required to stand, it was with "the aid of a special jig the men in the crew built for him," according to a newspaper column from 1976

McNear would leave The Andy Griffith Show in 1967. Two years later, he passed away. But he will forever remain the iconic barber of the television universe.

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bagandwallyfan52 22 months ago
Floyd's name was changed from
Floyd Colby to Floyd Lawson.
bagandwallyfan52 22 months ago
On The Andy Griffith Show episode called Stranger In Town there were
Two Strangers In Mayberry:
ED SAWYER William Lanteau and
Floyd the Barber Walter Baldwin
Walter Baldwin also played
Grandpappy Miller on Both
Green Acres and Petticoat Junction.
RichLorn 22 months ago
Just goes to show that being a barber is a dead end job.
obectionoverruled 22 months ago
A tremendous radio role player; note especially the priceless episodes he brought to life on the best of the old network syndicated afternoon shows - Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. Once on TV and especially as the iconic Floyd the Barber on Andy Griffith’s brilliant comedy serial, Howard’s overplayed facial expressions and wide-eyed gullibility were top of the line character acting. If you had encountered him walking down Hollywood Boulevard back in the day, you’d have stopped him to make a haircut appointment. That role was his eternal calling. They say we are all put here for a purpose - Howard’s was to portray a nosy, gossipy, comedic small town barber.
MickPatay 22 months ago
Let's all say a prayer for Tony Dow, who is battling cancer, and thank him, and Jerry Mathers for their lifetime of memories! Head over to t j.g eir Facebook pages, to see some really neat autographed fan merchandise and some of Tony's beautiful sculptures! ❤ Love ya Tony and Jerry God bless you both! And thank you!
Pacificsun 22 months ago
The Summer of MeTV will be featuring a Leave It To Beaver Sunday Block of shows, featuring Tony Dow in particular. I believe Block is coming up soon, possibly for Father's Day Sunday. For those *very* interested fans, as we all become to be eventually, the more that's provided. Here are a couple of YouTube links with both interesting snippets and comments from and about the actors.

AM Radio Show (video supplied). Barbara Billingsley and Tony Dow. But you might need headphones to hear the atrocious audio!

Hugh Beaumont – Comments pointing out his ministry as a “Man of Hope and Humility”

Hugh Beaumont – Guest starring on Mannix three times (hardly recognizable in brief appearances). He acted in order to fund his Ministry to the “down and out.”

Ken Osmond and Tony Dow at a Book Signing (2014)
All fans know KO chose to be a Motorcycle Traffic Cop, serving one of the most underprivileged neighborhoods in L.A. County, because he wanted to help people. He served until he retired and in and spite of an in-the-line-of-duty injury. Much beloved and sorely missed since his passing.

Ken Osmond who played
Eddie Haskell on Leave It To
Beaver was the Complete Opposite of Eddie Haskell.
Eddie Haskell was a wiseguy and practical joker and creep
But Ken Osmond was a wonderful person and a great
Policeman.and humanitarian .
Rest In Peace Ken Osmond.
I hope to see you in Heaven.
Runeshaper 22 months ago
McNear later moved his fictional barbershop from Mayfield to Mayberry - love that! The man clearly portrayed an EXCELLENT barber! (-:
cperrynaples 22 months ago
Just out of curiosity, was Mcnear the barber when Beaver didn't want to pay for a haircut?
Pacificsun cperrynaples 22 months ago
This might be a different episode, because in this case Beaver loses his money for a haircut, not that he doesn't want one.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 22 months ago
I'll have to watch that episode to see where Rory O'Connor appears.
Here is one of the pilots for the LITB series called "It's a Small World", thought you might enjoy.
WordsmithWorks 22 months ago
That was very kind of Andy & company to accommodate "Floyd." When castmates think of themselves as family, this is what they mean. The same thing happened on "the Waltons" with Ellen Corby, except the writers built her stroke into the storyline. Of course, I'm not saying anything most MeTV fans don't already know.
Andybandit 22 months ago
I didn't know Howard mcNear played a barber on lITB.
Pacificsun Andybandit 22 months ago
I'm a terrible proof reader, my own especially, but not so much for others. His name was mentioned 11 times in the story. And I couldn't catch the mistake.
JHP 30 months ago
old time radio - Great Gilder sleeve

Had a Floyd the barber
JustSyd 62 months ago
Nirvana wrote a song about him on their first album:

JHP JustSyd 30 months ago
was Andy playing the GEE-tar?
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