When we think of The Andy Griffith Show, the image of “the good ole’ days” usually comes to mind. In Mayberry, the fictional town in North Carolina, doors are left unlocked, neighbors help each other, and the police are simply part of the scenery. Keep reading to learn more about what happened to the actors after the show ended.
Don Knotts Was Best Friends With Andy Griffith In Real Life
The on-screen chemistry that we see between Don and Andy is not a coincidence. It is a result of the friendship they share in real life.
Don and Andy Were Bros For Life
Their friendship started when they both starred in No Time For Sergeants, the 1955 Broadway play, and they remained friends afterward. Andy was at Don’s bedside when Don died in 2006. Andy passed away six years later. He was 86 years old.
Andy Liked Playing Pranks
Andy really liked playing pranks on others, and Don Knotts was his main target. Actually, Don’s real name was Jesse (which he hated), and Andy enjoyed teasing his friend about it, calling him “Jess.”
Andy Also Got Pranked
The cast also pranked Andy, even stealing his shoes at one point. That day, he went home wearing his big Sheriff boots from the studio.
Memorable Opening Credits
The Andy Griffith Show has many memorable aspects, one of which is it’s opening credits. It features the whistley tune fans know really well, and the long shot that shows Andy and little Opie who are going to fish.
It Wasn’t Opie Who Threw The Rock
At the time, Ron Howard was only 6 years old, so he didn’t really have the strength to throw the rock far enough for it to land into the lake. To get around this, the assistant director made a prop man hide behind a bush and throw the rock. If you look closely, you might notice that after Opie’s throw, there is a really subtle lag before the resulting splash.
Andy And Helen’s Off-screen Romance
Andy Griffith and Aneta Corsaut played a couple on screen, but there were rumors saying they took their romance to real life. However, he was actually married at the time! Ever heard of Hollywood stereotypes?
Andy Wasn’t Comfortable With On-screen Romances
Elinor Donahue quit the show after being on it for only one season because she didn’t feel she and Andy Griffith had any on-screen chemistry. The actor later admitted that he always found it hard to show affection during filming.
Andy Had A Tense Relationship With Frances
Andy Griffith and Frances Bavier had a rather prickly relationship for most of the time they were on the show. She wasn’t really a fan of his comedic persona. However, the two, fortunately, made amends prior to her death back in 1989.
During one of the many pranks the cast did to Andy, they thought of sending a crew member who was dressed as a waiter to Andy’s hotel room to deliver dinner. However, the crew member caught Andy in a compromising position with Aneta. Let’s just say things backfired…
Aunt Bee’s Ironic Career Choice
Frances Bavier portrayed Aunt Bee. It is said that the actress did not really have a sense of humor. Quite an ironic career choice, don’t you think?
The Cast Member’s Favorite Episodes Were Different
The favorite episode of Andy Griffith was “Barney’s First Car.” Ronny Howard’s favorite, on the other hand, was “The Ball Game.” It was written by his father, one of the writers of the show.
Don Knotts’s Favorite Was “The Pickle Story”
Don Knotts especially loved “The Pickle Story,” an episode that a lot of fans also pick as their favorite. In this episode, Aunt Bee makes a large batch of disgusting pickles. Andy and Barney eventually have to eat them. The episode is filled with laugh-out-loud moments, and you can clearly see that the actors had a blast filming it.
Going Out While On Top
The Nielsen ratings for The Andy Griffith Show indicate that it was on top while it ended. Only two other TV shows in history have done this, Seinfeld and I Love Lucy.
They called the final episode “Mayberry R.F.D.,” which was broadcast on September 23, 1968. It establishes the premise of the spin-off show with the same name. The spin-off aired from 1968 until 1971.
Don Knotts Didn’t Have A Contract
The character of Barney Fife could have lasted only one episode since Don Knotts was one of the many actors that showed up during the first day of shooting without a concrete offer of employment.
Chemistry Earned Don A Contract
The chemistry that Andy and Don had really impressed the producers, who decided to write up an employment contract for Don on the spot. At first, it was for one year, then later they added five years.
The Ford Squad Car
The squad car that Andy and Barney used on the show was iconic. Their car was a Ford Galaxie, and the show was provided a free replacement Galaxie by a local Ford dealership each time there was a new model. Then, the dealer took back the old car, repainted it and sold it. We wonder if the fact that the cars used to be on the show added any value to them and how much the added value was.
A Lot Of Cop Cars
Overall, ten different Galaxies were used throughout the eight seasons of the series, with a lot of replicas still out there today.
What’s Keeping Them Busy?
A lot of the cast of the show are not with us anymore, but let’s see what the main actors did after the legendary run of The Andy Griffith Show. Let’s start with Opie. Little Ronny Howard starred in another high profile series. He played Richie Cunningham in the popular show Happy Days.
Ron Howard’s work as a director and actor has earned him a lot of awards, which include the National Medal of Arts. In 2013, he joined the Television Hall of Fame. In addition, he now has two Hollywood Walk of Fame stars.
After the show, Frances Bavier chose to stay in North Carolina rather than return to New York City. She said that she’d grown to love the state.
Patching Thing Up
In 1998, Andy Griffith revealed that Frances had phoned him not long before her death. She apologized to him for “being ‘difficult’ during the series’ run.” Frances died when she was 86 years old. She passed away just 8 days before her 87th birthday.
Actor Jim Nabors played the lovable buffoon of Mayberry, Gomer Pyle. The character became such a hit that after The Andy Griffith Show ended, the actor starred in his own spin-off.
Publicly Coming Out
Jim came out publicly in 2013 and tied the knot with his partner of 38 years. Jim explained, “I’m 82 and he’s in his 60s and so we’ve been together for 38 years and I’m not ashamed of people knowing, it’s just that it was such a personal thing, I didn’t tell anybody.”
Actress Aneta Corsaut portrayed Helen Crump, the girlfriend of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the show. Their onscreen romance was rumored to extend in real life.
Aneta came back for two reunion shows. She appeared in the 1986 made-for-TV film Return to Mayberry and the 1993 special The Andy Griffith Show Reunion. In 1995, she died of cancer and was buried in Hollywood.
Hal Smith played Otis, Mayberry’s resident drunk. Whenever Otis becomes intoxicated, he meanders into the jail and lets himself into a cell. The jail’s comfy bed is where he sleeps off his drunkenness. When the morning comes, he lets himself out.
Lending His Voice
Hal had a lot of voice-over roles after the show ended. He lent his voice to various television shows and animated films. In 1994, he had a heart attack, which sadly claimed his life.
The slow thinking and absent-minded character Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show was played by Howard McNear. Sadly, the actor died of a stroke back in 1969, only two years after he left the show because of health problems.
The Song Called “Floyd The Barber”
In case you didn’t know, iconic musician Kurt Cobain composed a song which he called “Floyd the Barber.” It is one of the tracks on the album “Bleach” by the band Nirvana. The song is much darker compared to the show; Cobain is murdered in it by many of the Mayberry residents (including Floyd).
Gomer Pyle’s bumbling cousin Goober Pyle was played by George Lindsey, though he auditioned for Gomer’s part at first. The actor later appeared on Gunsmoke, Hee Haw, and The Twilight Zone, among other shows.
George was really generous. He managed to raise more than $1,000,000 through the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament, which he donated to the Alabama Special Olympics. In 2012, he passed away at 83 years old.
Don Knotts is best known for playing Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, but he later landed another really popular role. He was cast as Ralph Furley, the hapless (yet absolutely lovable) landlord on Three’s Company, which also starred John Ritter. Don also made appearances and cameos on a lot of television shows and films.
Friends For Life
Right before Don’s death, Andy Griffith visited him in the hospital. Andy recalled his last words to his good friend: “I know that he could hear me, and we all believe that he could hear my voice.” Andy added, “I told him that I loved him, and I told him…I said ‘Jess [Don’s real first name], breathe. You’ve gotta make this, you’ve gotta pull through. Breathe.’ And you know, I saw his chest heave, and I said ‘That’s a boy. Keep breathing. Just keep breathing.’ And his shoulder moved, so I believe he heard my voice.”
After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Andy starred in other TV shows, but unfortunately, none of them really hit it big. Then, in 1986, he was cast as lawyer Ben Matlock on the show aptly titled Matlock. The series ended up becoming a huge hit, particularly among senior citizens.
During his later years, Andy took part in several public service announcements which promoted the new health care reforms’ benefits for seniors, who were his main Matlockaudience.
In 1983, Andy contracted Guillain-Barre Syndrome, but fortunately recovered fully. In 2012, he had a heart attack and passed away. He was buried on Roanoke Island, North Carolina, a place he really loved.
Andy received a lot of awards during his lifetime. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame. He was also awarded a Hollywood Walk of Fame star. To this day, he continues to be one of his generation’s most beloved stars.
Andy Griffith’s Comment Led To Don Knotts’s Departure
When Andy Griffith initially agreed to star in the show, he said to Don Knotts that he just wanted to do the show for five years. The two men signed contracts for five years and the show started. After five years, however, Andy decided to continue with the show, but Don had already signed a deal with Universal Pictures for three years. Naturally, Don was unable to continue with the series.
The Relationship Between Andy and Barney Changed
In the series’ first few episodes, Andy and Barney are revealed to be cousins. The initial idea was to make jokes about the southern relationships that stereotypically helped people get small-town government jobs. After season one, however, that backstory was dropped. Andy and Barney became childhood friends instead.
The Mysterious “Mister Schwamp”
“Mister Schwamp” occasionally appears in random episodes. He is a middle-aged man who has dark hair, which appears to be a toupee. Usually, he is spotted in crowd scenes or taking a seat on a park bench. Andy or Barney acknowledges him by saying, “Hello, Mister Schwamp,” and he nods and smiles. To this day, no one knows who portrayed Mr. Schwamp.
Andy Broke His Hand Because Of Punching A Wall
During production of the show’s second season, Andy Griffith got frustrated and punched a wall. He ended up breaking his hand, which had to be bandaged heavily during filming. The injury was written into the story. In the show, it is said that Sheriff Taylor got hurt while apprehending criminals.
Helen Crump Was Supposed To Appear Only Once
Helen Crump was given a terrible name because her appearance was supposed to be just a one-off. However, actress Aneta Corsaut gave an amazing performance and ended up developing great rapport with Andy Griffith. This turned Helen Crump into a regular character.
Don Knotts’ Favorite Suit
In case you didn’t notice, Barney Fife regularly appeared wearing a salt-n-pepper pattern coat, a red bow tie, and a white straw fedora. Don Knotts loved the ensemble so much that he sported it in the films The Incredible Mr. Limpet, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, How to Frame a Figg, and The Reluctant Astronaut.
The Amazing Father-Son Relationship
Ron Howard became an actor just like his dad and they apparently had a wonderful relationship. Ron revealed that the relationship between Andy and Opie was based on Ron’s dad influence on Ron in real life.
The Sole Speaking Role
There were a lot of African Americans who appeared on The Andy Griffith Show, but they were all extras who had non-speaking roles and were just in the background scenes. However, Rockne Tarkington interrupted that streak when he made an appearance in the episode called “Opie’s Piano Lesson.” His spoken lines made him the only black actor who had had a speaking role in the show’s entire run.
The Solution To A Stroke
Howard McNear, the actor who played Floyd the Barber, unfortunately had a stroke while the series was still on air. Since he had some trouble standing after the stroke, the show’s creators thought of a creative solution. They had him sit in a barber chair, or sometimes used some props to make it seem as if he was standing. He can be seen leaning against something in other scenes, which was his way to keep his strength.
The Whistle Theme Song
The theme song of The Andy Griffith Show is titled “The Fishin’ Hole.” Everett Sloane wrote the song’s lyric version. However, the producers of the show thought that it was a better idea to whistle the tune. Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer were chosen to perform the theme song.
Barney regularly refers to Andy as “Ange” when they talk on the show. This actually has a real-life connection. That is the nickname he created and gave to Andy Griffith. “Ange” is short for “Andy” and “Griffith.” The nickname stuck and Don decided to use it during filming.
The Mount Airy Connection
Andy Griffith had always denied that his hometown, Mount Airy, North Carolina, was the inspiration for Mayberry, the fictional town on the show. In the episode “A Black Day for Mayberry,” Barney can be seen picking up and flipping through a phone book that is on the Sheriff’s desk. On the front cover of the phone book are the words “Mount Airy,” which can plainly be seen.
The Characters Andy and Opie Were Around Even Before The Show
The pilot of The Andy Griffith Show was aired in October 1960, but the characters Andy and Opie already showed up on the small screen in February of the same year, on a show called Make Room for Daddy. Danny Thomas produced both shows.
The Telephone Operator
On the show, there is a character who is a telephone operator. Her name is Sarah but they never really revealed her last name. The character seems as if she is always on duty. She is never on camera, but her voice is pretty distinctive, so you know it is her.
The Mystery Of Andy’s Home Address
Throughout the series’ run, different addresses were given for Andy’s home. The Taylors never moved, but in one episode, they lived on 332 Maple Road according to Aunt Bee. In a different episode, however, Barney says that Andy lives on 24 Elm Street.
“That’s The Time”
Andy says, “That’s the time,” on various occasions on the show. It is actually an old southern phrase which has a number of general meanings, including “That’s the right thing to do,” and “Okay,” and “Good!” This was Griffith’s subtle way of injecting his southern background into the show.
50% Of The Show Was Andy’s
When the show’s concept was created by Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard, Andy was actually concentrating on film, not TV. He had just done No Time for Sergeants and A Face in the Crowd, and thought of giving the show a shot. However, he told producers that he would only do the show, which would bear his name and reputation, if he was given 50% ownership of the show’s rights. They agreed. When he died, Andy Griffith’s personal fortune was estimated to be worth $35 million.
One Of The Directors Was Part Of The ‘50s Blacklist
In the 1950s, director Coby Ruskin was accused of being a Communist sympathizer, which led to him being banned from Hollywood. For a short period, Ruskin worked in England so that he could make a living. He was accused by the “Red Channels” publication, which was later discredited.
Andy Griffith Was Buried Hours After His Death
In 2012, Andy Griffith passed away at the age of 86. His family requested the immediate burial of his body on Roanoke Island, in North Carolina. Just hours after he died, the famed film and television star was interred. He was laid to rest first before memorials were given.
The Southern Gospel Singer
Since Andy Griffith studied music, many fans might not be surprised to find out that he was also a southern gospel singer. Andy realized that he could sing gospel while he was testing out his tonal abilities in a number of acting roles, most notably when he starred in A Face in the Crowd.
Andy Griffith Took Andy Griffith To Court
In 2006, the actor Andy Griffith took another Andy Griffith to court. Originally named William Harold Fenrick, the man changed his name to try to win an election. He wanted to become the sheriff of Grant County, Wisconsin. He was sued because he clearly violated the Andy Griffith trademark when he used the name.
Continuity Errors Were Common
Aside from the fact that re-filming is expensive, a lot of TV shows during that time didn’t have full-time continuity directors. A great example of a continuity error can be seen in episode three of the third season. The new mayor is almost attacked by a bear, but he starts climbing a tree. As the bear rushes toward the camera, you can see in the shot its animal trainer releasing the animal.
The Opening Credits Pay Homage To Andy’s Real-life Dad
At the start of the show, we see Andy and Opie walking together. We see Opie throwing some rock and Andy giving him a shake of his head or a nod in acknowledgment. Andy’s real-life father also shook his head the same way. Andy thought the action was the perfect way to pay a subtle tribute to his father and it became a touching moment that he shared with his fictional son as well.
Andy Was Originally Meant To Be Funny
In the show’s original concept, Andy was the resident comic. His character could be described as the Will Rogers-type who commented and made jokes of the other characters on the show. However, one episode into filming, he immediately knew that Barney would be perfect as the resident “funny man” who paired up with his straight man. Andy realized this when he watched Don Knotts perform.
If you look closely at the calendar on the wall of Floyd’s barber shop, you will notice that it is on February every single time. We’re not sure whether this was an oversight or if the show’s producers and directors chose that detail for some reason. Whatever the case may be, in Floyd’s barbershop, it’s always February. It’s as if they knew that the show would end up becoming a timeless classic.
Don Knotts Received Bullets
Because Andy didn’t trust Barney with a full barrel, Barney was just allowed to carry one bullet in his gun. Apparently, the show’s fans from different parts of the country felt bad for Barney, so Don Knotts received bullets from them.
The Reason Behind Opie’s Name
The historical reference of the name Opie is rooted in music. In the ‘30s and ‘40s, there was a famous bandleader named Opie Cates. Andy Griffith and Sheldon Leonard, the show’s producer, were big fans of Opie Cate’s music, so they thought of honoring him.
Floyd The Barber’s Retirement
Because of the worsening health of actor Howard McNeal’s, he needed to be written out. In the last episode of season seven, Floyd retired after he earned enough money from the barbershop. He was replaced by Emmett Clark, the fix-it-man played by Paul Hartman. Emmett made the barbershop into a fix-it shop. Shortly after Howard McNeal exited the show, he passed away.
Star Trek Went To Mayberry
When Star Trek first aired, the show was really underfunded, so they used the set of Mayberry to film many different scenes. Mayberry can be seen in the Star Trek episodes “City on the Edge of Forever” and “Miri.” Actually, you can spot Floyd’s Barber Shop in the scenes where Captain Kirk and Edith Keeler walk together. You can also see the Walkers Drugstore, Mayberry Courthouse, and other major landmarks.
Andy Loved Practical Jokes
As the boss of the Griffith Show, Andy Griffith set a festive, easy-going tone. He loved to stage practical jokes, especially when they targeted Don Knotts. In fact, Andy teased Don daily just by calling him “Jess,” which was short for Jesse, Don’s first name, because he knew Don didn’t like it. Funny!
Aunt Bee Wasn’t Tight With The Crew
Onscreen, Bee’s domestic and loving persona provided the perfect complement to Andy’s fatherly antics and Barney’s childlike ways. Offstage, though, she rarely joined Andy and the others in their daily fun. She was not one to dance and sing with her cast members, and she disliked practical jokes and inappropriate language.
Everyone Pranked Everyone
Just as Andy Griffith loved to pull funny pranks on his colleagues, the cast enjoyed giving Andy a good prank right back. One time they even went so far as to steal his shoes! He had to wear his big Sheriff boots home from the studio that day. Yikes.
The Show Was A Spin-Off
The concept for The Andy Griffith Show originally came from a 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show, called “Danny Meets Andy Griffith,” which set the whole show in motion. A few months later, Griffith had his own show.
The Rock Throw Seen In The Opening Credits Was Fake
During the show’s opening credits, young Opie appears to throw a rock in a lake. However, Ron Howard, who was only six years old at the time, wasn’t strong enough to do that. Instead, a production assistant hiding behind a bush threw the rock into the lake. Sneaky!
The Show Was In First Place When It Ended
The Andy Griffith Show ended its long and prestigious run in 1968 at the top of the ratings. Only two other shows have been able to go out on top — I Love Lucy and Seinfeld.
Mayberry Was A Fictional Town
We hate to disappoint you, but the town of Mayberry doesn’t really exist; it’s totally fictional. Some fans speculate that Mayberry is secretly based on Mount Airy, North Carolina — Griffith’s hometown — but the actor says this was not the case at all.
The Show Paid Tribute To Life As A Father
During the opening credits of the show, you can see Andy walking down the road with his son Opie. Opie throws a rock and Andy nods his head in approval. This was Andy’s personal tribute to his own father, who would shake his head similarly, signifying a “good job.” It inspired his role as a father in the TV show as well. How sweet is that?!
The Show Was Adjusted To Be In Color
The first 159 episodes of the hit television show, which aired from 1960 until 1968, were all in black and white. It wasn’t until they aired the final 90 episodes that they premiered on peoples’ televisions at home in color.
Andy Was Originally Supposed To Be The Funny One
The original concept of the show featured Andy telling all of the laugh-out-loud funny jokes. It was after the first few episodes when the producers realized that Barney would actually serve as a better comedian for the show. After this, Barney became known as the jokester and Andy was the one who set him up.
Andy Was On Broadway
Though he was most famously remembered as the main character in the famous show that bears his name, Andy Griffith also had a pretty successful career on Broadway, where he won a prestigious Tony Award.
Bavier Was Known For Being On Broadway
While she will forever be remembered for playing Aunt Bee on The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier began her illustrious acting career in theatre. She won the Emmy Award for Supporting Actress in 1968 for her role on The Andy Griffith Show, but still, she started in theatre!
Barney Has A Middle Name
No one was ever really sure what exactly Barney’s middle name was; sometimes it was one thing and the next day it was something else. On some episodes he said it was Oliver, and on other episodes he said it was Milton. Regardless of his middle name confusion, Barney Fife was one of the most memorable characters on the show.
Barney Wasn’t On The Entire Show
Barney was such a beloved character that some fans did not even notice that he wasn’t a part of the series for its full run. He appeared on The Andy Griffith Show full-time from its beginning in 1960 until 1965, when the actor pulled decided it was time for him to pursue a film career.
Floyd The Barber Couldn’t Stand Up
Because he had suffered a stroke, Howard MacNear, AKA Floyd The Barber, had trouble standing up on his own. A special stool was built to make it appear as if Floyd was standing when he was, in fact, half-sitting or leaning.
Who Is Ange?
So if his name was Andy, why did Barney call his pal “Ange”? “Ange” was Don Knotts’ real-life nickname for Andy Griffith. It was just a form of “Andy” and “Griffith” connected together. Hmm, interesting! I guess that’s pretty creative.
In real life, Andy was known to be more reserved compared to Barney, who was always joking around. In turn, fans will find it interesting that their off-screen personalities were quite different from what people saw on the show. Yes, that means that Knotts was actually a pretty serious guy. Wow!
Knotts Wanted Half The Show
When the cast thought the show was over after the fifth season, Knotts went off and found work elsewhere. When Griffith came aboard for the sixth season, though, Knotts agreed to do the same — but under one condition: he wanted part ownership of the show. Griffith said no to him, which is exactly when Knotts decided to not return as Barney.
Did you know Barbara Bray Edwards- Griffith’s real-life wife- also had some on-screen appearances? Barbara made some background appearances on season four of the series including both “The Song Festers” and “Opie Loves Helen” episodes.
The Show Had A Connection With “Gone With The Wind”
Although most of the scenes from The Andy Griffith Show were filmed on the eastern part of the studio, Sheriff Andy’s house sat right next to the “Aunt Pittypat House” from the 1939 film, Gone with the Wind! Andy’s house was so close that you could see the old Atlanta train station immediately after walking out of the courthouse. Another fun fact is that the train station was featured in a ton of the show’s episodes.