Mayberry's mysterious Mr. Schwamp also popped up on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.

There are now more clues to the identity of this ''unknown'' extra.

It's hard to imagine any secret being kept for 60 years. It's near impossible to believe that a television actor can remain unknown for six decades. Yet, somehow, a familiar Mayberry face continues to perplex fans of The Andy Griffith Show. Just who in the heck was Mr. Schwamp?

Think of all the books written about The Andy Griffith Show, all the interviews conducted with cast and crew. Try to fathom how many words have been written about Mayberry on the internet, in fan blogs, Wikia pages, podcasts and this very website. There's even an annual festival devoted to the sitcom, Mayberry Days. And nobody knows the identity of "Mr. Schwamp"? People have asked the casting director, talent agents, writers, directors, actors from the show. Shucks, someone even posed the question to Andy Griffith himself. No answer.

First, before we dig deeper into the enigmatic Schwamp, let's explain who we are talking about for anyone who might not know. 

The fellow made his first appearance in season four's "My Fair Ernest T. Bass." Known for his grin and toupee, this heavy-set older gentleman can be spotted at Mrs. Wiley's tea party. He continues to turn up in the background — at dances, sitting in restaurants, kicking back on the bench outside the courthouse. He never says a word. 

For years, fans called him "Mr. Schwump," until an unearthed script explained that his name was, indeed, "Schwamp." He would appear in 26 total episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, in both black-and-white and color.

But the Schwamp was not contained to Mayberry. He even made it across the country to California.

Remember, the spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. largely took place at the fictional Camp Henderson on the West Coast. Nevertheless, Mr. Schwamp rears his head a few times on the military comedy.

He is found most easily in "Gomer, the Welsh Rarebit Fiend," dining in the restaurant. The waitress serves him in the foreground, as Gomer sits in the background. It's the rare shot of our mystery man close to the camera. A few episodes later, in "One Of Our Shells is Missing," he zips through the frame in a flash in the Army Surplus Store. Then, in "Gomer, the Beautiful Dreamer," Schwamp has another blink-and-you'll-miss-him cameo, shopping in the background of a crowded grocery store. "Gomer, the Welsh Rarebit Fiend," seen above, offers the best view of him.

Schwamp in his other brief, rare 'Gomer' appearances

His appearance on Gomer gives some hints to his identity, perhaps. All these episodes aired rather close together in 1967. Was he just around the set for that span of production? Is he somehow tied to creators involved in those three episodes?

Because here's our theory — someone has to know who this guy is. It seems shocking that a television production that was "like family" could forget the name of a fellow who was around the set so much. And "Mr. Schwamp" was around more than we might have realized.

In 2019, some charming, insightful behind-the-scenes film footage hit YouTube. This home footage came from the camera of Rance Howard, father to Ron and Clint. We see cast and crew filming around Mayberry's iconic lake (in reality Franklin Lake in Franklin Canyon Park).

Lo and behold, in two shots, a man with a remarkable resemblance to Mr. Schwamp can be seen lounging around the set. Like he belongs there. Like he is part of the production, or in the employ of someone on the cast. He leans against a car reading a newspaper. He smokes a cigarette in sunglasses and Ronny Howard plays between takes. 

Some have theorized that this mysterious extra was close to Andy Griffith or the show in some way, and his "unknown" identity has been kept as an in-joke for more than half a century. Either that, or everyone involved has a bad memory.

What do you think? Is that Mr. Schwamp in the home footage? Is his secret identity a conspiracy?

Watch Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on MeTV!

Weeknights at 9 PM
Saturdays at 5 AM & 5:30 AM

*available in most MeTV markets
 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

14 Comments

Post a comment
toni 14 days ago
I love watching the shows on MeTV. What I really appreciate is how their commercials promoting shows are so clever that you have to laugh. Most excellent channel. 🌞
clasictrukr 19 days ago
Everyone knew and kept the secret that he was DB Cooper.😁😎
RandallLloyd 19 days ago
Thanks for these trivia on inquiries about TV shows
DethBiz 20 days ago
Even better question...who is the guy with the mustache that pops up in numerous episodes of Andy Griffith and his character doesn't even have a name? At least, Mr. Schwamp has a name.
Sooner 20 days ago
The man in the movie footage has a different shaped face and ears and hairline. Not Mr. Schwamp.
Pacificsun 20 days ago
I think (as said in a different article) that the guy was a "Stand-In" required to always be there, and fill-in as a floater where needed. Being already on the payroll, no doubt, he was doing double duty, because sitcoms were forced to economize on budgets. A "Stand-In" did not necessarily have "elevated" (or noteworthy) status. And as any "day-worker" could've been easily forgotten. Part of the art of blending in, fitting comfortably with cast and crew.
MrsPhilHarris 20 days ago
I can't believe no one has come forward and said "That's my dad" or "That's my Uncle Joe" or something.
Gary 20 days ago
Brings to mind my favorite short poem by Robert Frost:

We all dance around in a ring
and suppose,
While the secret sits in the
middle and knows.
DonnaNMI 20 days ago
It’s a interesting and on-going story. I don’t believe the gentleman in the home movie footage is the same person and the mysterious Mr. Schwamp or Schwump. The mysterious actor appears to be sporting a rather obvious toupee whereas the gentlemen in the home footage is not. Unless of course he wore it over his real hair.
MikeyMello 20 days ago
So intrigued by this “mystery”. I would love to know the real story but that is what adds to the whole legend of this guy...we may never know.
DeborahRoberts 21 days ago
Oddly enough, I was thinking about this the other day. Surely Ron Howard could supply the answer to the mysterious Mr. Schwamp (who will always be Mr. Schwump to me). I'd like to know how they came up with the name "Opie." That's the other Mayberry Mystery to leave me scratching my head.
Opie was name after a bandleader name Opal I think his last name was Taft.
Surely Rance Howard would've remembered. He probably has the best remaining collective memory, being that Ron was so involved with the Show. And Mr. Rance Howard was probably required to be there every day.

I think the guy was just a "day-worker" with no living relatives left. And most of the original cast is gone!

But it's a fun, intriguing mystery. Thanks MeTV, for keeping it alive until there's a solution!
Moriyah 21 days ago
Wow! This is very interesting! I think me mentioning Gomer Pyle a lot and suggesting MeTV to mention him a lot more often is working! Do you think that's about to be the case?!
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?