The Andy Griffith Show became an instant hit as soon as it graced TV screens. Sheriff Andy, Deputy Barney Fife, Opie, Aunt Bee, Goober, Gomer, and Floyd the barber became favorites, and touched viewers hearts worldwide. Mayberry may be a fictional town, but a lot went on off screens. Let’s find out what happened when the cameras weren’t rolling.
The Opening Song Was Written In 15 Minutes
The opening credits of this show are somewhat iconic, with what became one of the most catchy tunes in music history. “The Fishin’ Hole”, was written by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer, and Hagen even performed the whistling himself.
Andy and Don Were Pals In Real Life
The friendship between the two actors started in the mid-’50s when the two co-starred in the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants. After this a strong bond grew, and they remained tight for the rest of their lives. Andy even knelt beside Don Knotts’ bedside during his death in 2006. That is what we call a Hollywood friendship!
Andy Griffith Never Was Comfortable With Onscreen Romance
Elinor Donahue only lasted for one season, and the reason for this, is that she never felt true chemistry with Andy Griffith. He later admitted that affection was something he always had difficulty portraying onscreen. If you got it, you just got it, it cannot be forced.
Opie Didn’t Actually Throw the Rock In the Lake
Ron Howard was just a cute six year old, during the time that they filmed the opening credits scene, so when it came time for him to throw the rock into the lake, he actually couldn’t throw it far enough. Did you know that a prop man hid in the bushes and he was the one that threw the rock? It looks like Opie really did it.
The Real Reason Barney Fife Never Really Showed Up After Season 5
Andy informed Don Knotts that he only planned on the show running for five seasons, so when the show first aired, the two actors both signed contracts for five years. When those 5 years were up, Knotts ended up signing a contract with Universal Pictures, while Andy decided that he wanted to keep the show running.
Don Knotts Was Sent Bullets Of All Kinds
One of the classic running jokes in The Andy Griffith Show, was that Barney was under no circumstances allowed to carry more than one bullet in his gun. Apparently fans of the show all over, really felt for him over this, and actually sent Don Knotts real bullets! Would you believe?
Many Cars Were Used In The Show
The cop cars that can be seen in the show were all Ford models, and every time a new model was released, they would get sent new cars. The show ended up with 10 cars overall, an average of more than one per season! We wonder where they are now.
Mayberry Was Mount Airy
The cute town of Mayberry was in fact based on of the real Mount Airy, North Carolina – Andy Griffith’s hometown. Though Griffith actually denied it for years, in the episode “A Black Day For Mayberry” you can clearly see the words Mount Airy on the side of a phonebook sitting on the sheriff’s desk. Whoops.
Don Knott’s Favorite Episode Was the Pickle Episode
“The Pickle Story” is one of the most popular episodes, and it is no surprise why. Aunt Bee was a good cook, but her pickles were a big flop. In the episode, Barney and Andy are forced to eat and get rid of as many jars as possible. Don Knotts actually recalled how much fun it was to film that episode. We wouldn’t mind having an excuse to eat lots of delicious pickles.
Andy Wasn’t the Only Prankster In Town
Andy Griffith was known for his jokester antics on set, so much so, that the cast and crew would try to keep up, with pranks of their own. One of the most epic examples of this, was when the crew stole his shoes from the set, forcing him to wear his sheriff boots home. They even waited until the end of the season to return them. Leaving him to think he was going crazy.
Nickname On and Off the Screen
Throughout the show, Barney would regularly refer to Andy as “Ange”. Don Knotts christened that nickname to him as a shortening of “Andy” and “Griffith”, and he was such a fan of it, that he would just regularly use it during filming. It even caught on with others using it too.
A Stroke of Brilliance
Howard McNear who played Floyd the Barber, sadly suffered from a bad stroke during filming. Following this tragic incident, he didn’t have the strength to stand for very long, so the show creators conjured up a clever way to aid him in his character. They constructed props for Howard to lean on during his scenes, giving the illusion that he was in an upright position.
Don Knotts’ Suit Became a Favorite
Barney Fife donned an iconic salt-and-pepper suit with a red bowtie and a white hat in most formal scenes. That suit became such a favorite of Don Knotts’ that he wore it in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and How to Frame a Figg. We love this outfit.
Andy and Aneta Had a Little Fling of Their Own
Playing lovers in the show actually ignited a real life romance between Andy and Aneta, the actress who played Helen Crump. Even though Andy was married, the two were said to have had a small fling on the side. This was hush hush on set, but it of course got out, and the rumor spread like wild fire.
Helen Crump Was Temporary At First
Helen Crump was originally supposed to be a one hit wonder character (perhaps the reason for the terrible name), but when Aneta Corsaut gave not only a great performance, but worked wonderfully alongside Andy Griffith, it was decided to make her a regular. On screen chemistry is certainly a thing.
Andy Was Quite the Prankster
Andy’s jokester abilities extended far beyond his own character. Don Knotts was naturally the dominant recipient of his jokes. Andy would tease him by calling him Jess, his real first name, which Knotts hated. Every morning he would greet him with “Good morning, Jess!” This sometimes caused tension on set.
It’s Always February In Floyd’s Shop
If you look closely, you’ll notice that the calendar in Floyd’s Barbershop is always stuck on February. It’s unknown if this was done intentionally to illustrate Floyd’s forgetfulness or if it was a true inconsistency. Now you won’t be able to un notice.
Andy Owned 50% of the Show
When Andy Griffith was first offered the show, he had focused mostly on film at that time and wasn’t exactly too familiar with television. He in fact only agreed to do the show if he was given rights to 50% of the show that carried his own name. By the time of his death, Andy had accumulated an estimated $35 million in wealth! Wow.
Andy Broke His Hand When He Punched a Wall
In a moment of anger whilst filming the second season, Andy apparently punched a wall which ended up fracturing several of his fingers. The writers then had to write this into the show, so they made up a scenario in which Andy injured himself while sorting out some rather rough-and-tough criminals.
Don Knotts Worked Without a Contract
Did you know that Barney Fife could have only lasted for one episode? Yep, Don Knotts was one of the few cast members who showed up on the first day without an actual contract. However, after noticing his natural chemistry with Andy, the producers instantly offered him a one-year contract. we couldn’t even begin to imagine the Andy Griffith Show without this lovable character.
Floyd Retired On and Off the Screen
After many health complications after a bad a stroke, actor Howard McNeal was eventually written out of the show by having his character Floyd retire after earning enough money from his barbershop. Very soon after leaving the show, Howard sadly died. He was replaced by Emmett Clark who opened up a fix-it shop where Floyd’s shop used to be.
Andy and Barney Were Originally Cousins
In the show’s beginning, Barney was meant to be portrayed as Andy’s cousin. The reference was supposed to be a joke concerning small town government positions being given to relatives, but when the writers saw a strong chemistry between the two on screen, their relationship was changed to childhood friends.
Andy Was Originally Intended To Be the Comic
Andy was always supposed to be the funnyman in the show, who made constant jokes concerning different characters. But once Don Knotts proved his natural comedy, it was very soon decided that Barney would be the funnyman to Andy’s straight man. This worked very well and viewers loved watching the two and their antics on screen.
Star Trek Came To Mayberry
Well this is interesting, when Star Trek first aired, the show was so underfunded that they were forced to use the set for the town of Mayberry in the episodes “Miri” and “City on the Edge of Forever.” Now that you have read this, you will be able to see clearly Floyd’s Barbershop and the Mayberry Courthouse in some of the scenes.
There Was Actually a Spin-Off
When The Andy Griffith Show ended, CBS decided to create a spin-off series without Griffith called Mayberry R.F.D. The show was named after the series finale and included several members of the same cast, including Aunt Bee. It aired in 1968 and lasted for three popular seasons.
They Quit While They Were Ahead
So many shows carry on and on until they lose their essence any more (Cough cough Grey’s Anatomy). To prevent the same thing from happening with The Andy Griffith Show, the producers made the wise decision to end it after the eighth season. Because of this, the show had the distinct honor of being one of only three shows that ended atop the Nielsen’s Ratings chart. The only other two are I Love Lucy and Seinfeld.
Andy and Frances Never Struck the Right Chord
Even though Andy and Aunt Bee had a mutual fondness for each other on the show, the two actually never got along when cameras were off. Frances considered herself far too serious of a dramatic actress to play opposite the constant joker Andy Griffith, and his tiresome joking and pranking got on her nerves, which she did not hide. The two did make amends years later, and it is said that she even called him to apologize just months before her death.
The Mysterious Mr. Shwump
On occasion, do you remember the middle-aged Mayberry man with a toupee, who would appear briefly in an episode, usually sitting on a bench minding his business? He would often be greeted by Andy or Barney as “Mr. Schwump”. The identity of the man who portrayed him was never determined and remains to this day a mystery.
“That’s the Time!”
Andy used the phrase “that’s the time” on many occasions throughout to show. The phrase is an old southern term meaning “good” or “ok” and was interjected by Andy as a subtle reference to his own southern upbringing. He wanted to intertwine his own personality into the show.