Hal Smith's happy home life was the complete opposite of Otis Campbell's Mayberry marriage
Married for more than 50 years, soulmates Hal and Louise Smith are all the proof we need that the saying is true: happy wife, happy life!
"Otis? A deputy?" Rita Campbell, wife of Mayberry town drunk Otis Campbell, asks Sheriff Andy. Considering how frequently her husband ends up in the town jail, she finds this new information hard to believe.
"Don't you think he looks kinda sharp in that deputy outfit?" Andy asks, smiling, trying to help Otis out in this funny final episode of the second season of The Andy Griffith Show, "Deputy Otis."
In this episode, Andy decides to temporarily deputize Otis so that he can impress his older brother when he comes to town. It's one of three episodes where Otis' wife Rita appears, and is in fact, her final appearance in the series, despite Smith appearing in more than 30 episodes.
Nobody really thought too much about Otis Campbell's wife, played by actor Dorothy Neumann, and we bet most folks didn't know that Otis Campbell actor Hal Smith had one of the most loving marriages of all time behind the scenes of Mayberry.
Smith married his sweetie Louise sometime after he became a DJ in New York, but before his acting career took off, which happened once he returned from army service during World War II. They remained married until she passed away in 1992, and in many interviews, Smith confirmed she was his life-long love.
When Smith appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, he and Louise were raising their teenage son, Terry, living in Santa Monica in what sounds like a very lovely home.
A reporter for the UPI in 1966 described the Smith abode as "a rustic early American home" with three bedrooms. In the interview, Smith said their swimming pool was the Pacific Ocean — they just had to mosey two blocks to dive in.
After shooting an episode of The Andy Griffith Show, it was to this rustic home that Smith would retreat, and to help you visualize, you should know that he and Louise dressed their house in handsome antiques and country-style décor, including yarn art interpretations of famous paintings.
Most likely the most wholesome piece of art hanging on Smith's walls, though, was a painting made by his mother.
Smith's mom was inspired to do the painting when she turned 75, and for her subject, she chose to paint the family farm in upstate New York where Smith was raised.
This cherished artwork proves the Mayberry actor, like many actors portraying recurring characters on the rural sitcom, maintained a deep connection to his own roots.
"I'm a happy man doing what I like to do," Smith told TV Graphic in 1965, revealing that for his family, he dreamed big. In addition to their beautiful home, he also bought a 25-foot boat to take out into the "swimming pool" and a ranch on 400 acres, where the family could vacation at the drop of a hat.
"It's a wonderful place to get away from the hustle-bustle of work," Smith told the UPI.
The family's actual home wasn't exactly a sleepy spot, though.
Smith said they threw two or three big parties every year, welcoming friends for barbecues where Smith would be the one manning the grill. He loved cooking up steaks outdoors, and you can bet your hamburger buns that he grilled Andy Griffith a hotdog or two.
Living in this idyllic home with his little family, to keep Smith company, he didn't just have a loving wife and a growing teen boy, who tolerated his classmates' teasing about his dad's sitcom character. He also had a companion in a dachshund named Fritz, who lurked under the grill hoping Smith would toss him off some scrap meat during those big festivities.
Over the years, Louise stood by Hal as he committed to a life of being bombarded by The Andy Griffith Show's biggest fans, and she didn't just tolerate all this attention due to her husband's fame. She was the one making sure he always had supplies on hand to keep his fans happy when they happened to see him in the real world.
"I went on a cruise not too long ago and I must have given away 1,000 pictures," Smith told The Lexington-Herald Leader in 1977. "I had them made up because people are nice enough to ask for them, and I figure I wouldn't be anything without the people who remember me. I started not to take the pictures with me, but my wife knew there would be people on board ship who would recognize me."
So if you were on that cruise, thank Louise for your souvenir!
Louise was there to watch Hal go from being Otis Campbell on The Andy Griffith Show to playing Santa Claus in holiday commercials, and by the end of the 1980s, she even helped him embrace a healthier lifestyle.
"When I did The Andy Griffith Show, I weighed 240 pounds," Smith said in 1989. "I lost most of it, and now I'm at 161 and keeping it off."
His weight loss was spurned by possibly the most Mayberry of motivations:
"I couldn't scale the rock hill where I go fishing, so I decided I had better lose the weight," Smith explains. "I'm glad I did it."
By that time, his family had moved to Los Angeles because his son Terry had grown up to do makeup and prosthetic work for Hollywood movies. During this later phase of their lives, he and Louise remained active. They also set up a new getaway ranch home in Prescott, Arizona.
Some of Hal's many hobbies in his lifetime included flying airplanes and gardening colorful birds of paradise plants. You can be sure the couple's home life was never dull.
Isn't it comforting to know that Smith found much more in life than just the key to let himself out the Mayberry jail cell? With Louise by his side, he also found the key to building a happy marriage that lasts.
"I've had my ups and downs, but it's been a good life," Smith told the Leader.