R.I.P. Jack Burns, the man who replaced Barney on The Andy Griffith Show

The comedian began as George Carlin's partner and later voiced a famous crash test dummy.

Barney Fife may have weighed, oh, about 120 pounds soaking wet, but the Mayberry deputy left behind a massive uniform to fill. After five hit seasons on The Andy Griffith Show, and a few Emmy awards, Don Knotts decided to nip it in the bud and leave the sitcom. The comedic actor pursued a career on the big screen.

His Barney Fife character would return to Mayberry here and there in later seasons, earning him a couple of fresh Emmy trophies, but the series was never really the same without him. That was not all due to his departure. Jim Nabors was gone by that point, too, heading his own spin-off, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. But the biggest change to The Andy Griffith Show beginning in season six was color. Mayberry went from a quaint black-and-white hamlet to a vibrant, rainbow-colored town.

Often overlooked in all this change — intentionally, in some cases — is Deputy Warren Ferguson.

Introduced at the start of season six, Ferguson came to Mayberry as Andy's new deputy. He was the nephew of Floyd the barber, though he stuck out in rural North Carolina like a sore thumb. You see, Warren was a city slicker from Boston.

Playing the role — complete with a haaahd Boston accent — was Jack Burns. A true Boston native, Burns got his start in Chicago, as part of the esteemed Second City comedy troupe. Andy was his first big role, but audiences might have already been familiar with Burns through his stage work. He'd cut a popular comedy record (more on that later) and popped up on talk shows.

Despite his pedigree, Burns lasted a mere 11 episodes on The Andy Griffith Show

Burns started out in a duo with George Carlin. They first met working at a radio station in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1959. A year later, the twosome recorded an album, Burns and Carlin at the Playboy Club Tonight, which was not released until 1963. Oh, and it was not recorded at the Playboy Club, rather in a joint called Cosmo Alley. But that's just a small taste of the sly humor Burns would ply throughout his career.

By the time …at the Playboy Club Tonight was released, Burns and Carlin had amicably split to pursue separate careers. Carlin began his climb as a solo act, while Burns paired with another comedic mind, Avery Schreiber, a shaggy physical force most Boomers might remember from Doritos commercials. The two sharpened their routines on the stage at Second City in Chicago. A decade later, after numerous guest spots on variety shows, the two earned their own series, The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour, which aired in the summer of 1973.

By 1977, Burns had transitioned to more of a behind-the-camera career. Notably, he landed a gig as the head writer and producer on the first season of The Muppets. He then co-wrote The Muppet Movie with Jerry Juhl, who would take over the reins as head writer on The Muppet Show.

Burns contributed his pen to the corn-pone humor of Hee Haw, as well. This just goes to show that he could have done the rural comedy of Andy Griffith, given the chance.

Years later, Burns voiced Vince, a crash test dummy in public service announcements for the U.S. Department of Transportation. The TV ads reminded audiences, "You could learn a lot from a dummy."

Burns passed away on January 27, 2020, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The actor, writer and comedian was 86.


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SofaKing 7 months ago
Burns was also involved with a late-70s show called "Bonkers!" starring the Hudson Brothers. He played the producer who was always masked. There was also a blonde bimbo in a Hee Haw outfit who was a regular on the show - she lip-synced her lines while her voice was dubbed by Burns
16 months ago
Jack Burns got a raw deal from TAGS producers and writers. He seemed a sweet, very witty man. Do you really believe Dullsville Emmett, Howard or Clara Edwards were an improvement?
JHP 13 months ago
yeah Howard was absolutely thee most boring character - on TV - I would avoid color andys like a hornets nest - If I ever did a really bad crime ; duct tape me to a heavy wooden chair and run Brady Bunch - color andys - little house on the prairies - and mamas family ad nauseam
JHP 13 months ago
HUH? HUH? HUH?

hmmmmm
SofaKing 7 months ago
Oh God, how I hated Howard!
EmBee 29 months ago
How could you leave out Fridays?
Mike 34 months ago
Addenda:
In addition to writing for Hee-Haw! (and helping create the format), Jack Burns occasionally appeared on-camera with George Lindsey.
The bits were set at "Goober's Gas Station": Burns played his "conventioneer" character, a city slicker who was always out-slickered by Goober (I've heard that some of these bits may have been improvised).
Galeval2 34 months ago
Also he was the announcer, writer, and producer of ABC late night tv show Fridays. Its rating were even better than Saturday Night Live (SNL). It was moved to Friday evenings for Ted Coppell's show Nightline. The actors and comics showed their frustration of this chance and the rating went down. The show was cancelled.
MarkSpeck Galeval2 34 months ago
He was involved in the on-camera fracas between Fridays regular Michael Richards and guest star Andy Kaufman. Both Burns and Richards later claimed that the entire incident was 'faked' for the camera and that they were both friends with Kaufman.
MarkSpeck 32 months ago
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ShreveportKid 34 months ago
The best of the Jack Burns episodes was Otis the Artist Season 6 Episode 16. It focused mainly on Otis (Hal Smith) and was a very touching episode. One of my favorites from that season.
JoeGuenther 34 months ago
Why no mention of his comedy work with Avery Schreiber? They were on a Love American Style episode and numerous variety shows including one they hosted.
Wiseguy JoeGuenther 34 months ago
"...while Burns paired with another comedic mind, Avery Schreiber, a shaggy physical force most Boomers might remember from Doritos commercials. The two sharpened their routines on the stage at Second City in Chicago. A decade later, after numerous guest spots on variety shows, the two earned their own series, The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour, which aired in the summer of 1973."
JoeGuenther 32 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Jeffrey 34 months ago
am sad about his passing - BUT OH BOY here comes all those stinky "warren eps"
Nadya92129 34 months ago
Jack Burns wasn't a good fit for TAGS, but neither was Jerry Van Dyke. He didn't get all the vitriol that was heaped on Burns, but he was even more insufferable.
EricFuller 34 months ago
RIP Jack. He also provided to voice of right-wing neighbor Ralph on "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home."
booster 34 months ago
I really liked Jack Burns when he was teamed with Avery Schreiber. Their taxicab routines were really funny. R.I.P Jack. You will be missed.
JoeGuenther booster 34 months ago
They did a bit where Jack was asking questions from the audience to Scheiber's computer that "spit out" the answers. Very funny and bent. Look for their stuff on you tube.
Garloo57 34 months ago
Thelma Lou ( Betty Lynn) Ellie Walker ( Elinor Donahue) ( Charlene Darling (Maggie Mancuso) comes to mind.. a few others like Barbara Eden appeared once... but memorable characters, etc
msdemos 34 months ago
.

Since I'm sure there are people here MUCH more knowledgeable than I, when it comes to this show, where does this now leave us in terms of surviving regular, or semi-regular cast members of the show?

Obviously, Ron Howard.....but after that I'm guessing there aren't too many others still with us.

Anybody know??

.
booster msdemos 34 months ago
Betty Lynn, who played Barney's girlfriend, Thelma Lou, is 93 years old, Elinor Donahue, who played Ellie Walker, Andy's first girlfriend, is 82, and Maggie Mancuso, who played Charlene Darling, is 79, Rodney Dillard who played Rodney Darling is 77. There may be some that only appeared in a couple of episodes still around, like some of the kids who played Opie's friends, but all of the main cast is deceased.
Garloo57 msdemos 34 months ago
Thelma Lou ( Betty Lynn) Ellie Walker ( Elinor Donahue) ( Charlene Darling (Maggie Mancuso) comes to mind.. a few others like Barbara Eden appeared once... but memorable characters, etc
Nadya92129 msdemos 34 months ago
I believe "Thelma Lou" is still with us.
msdemos 16 months ago
Thelma Lou is still with us and just as pretty and winsome as ever.
Rick 34 months ago
"Mayberry went from a quaint black-and-white hamlet to a vibrant, rainbow-colored town."

Yes, that was as big a change as the loss of Barney Fife. I think after five seasons everyone associated with making the show no longer saw that everything in town was the shade of green Pepto-Bismol would be if it were green (I guess that shade read well as white in black and white?).

But we the viewers did. Every wall was so, so pastel green. Oh, how green it was. Nothing looked like Mayberry, but a set lot.
Wiseguy Rick 34 months ago
What about the thousands (if not millions) of people who did not have color TVs in 1965? Did they notice a difference when the series switched to color? If not, there was no difference of importance.
GoUTVols1961 Wiseguy 34 months ago
You are correct. We did not get a color TV until 1972. Dad must have gotten a big raise. We got our first color TV and our first window air conditioner that year.
DaleTurnbo Wiseguy 9 months ago
Going to color served an important purpose- it lets you know to change the channel.
AgingDisgracefully 34 months ago
Yeah? Huh? Yeah? Huh? Yeah? Huh? Yeah? Huh?...etc.

YOUR cab ride may vary.
Barry22 34 months ago
He once hosted SNL and did a funny Rocky routine. He was also the executive producer of ABC's Fridays.
MissouriOzarks 34 months ago
Thank you for sharing all your wonderful information of our stars we had when I was growing up! It is my dream to make it out to California one day to visit the studio.
JoeGuenther MissouriOzarks 34 months ago
Nobody will miss you. You can leave right now.
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