The Andy Griffith Show was so popular that the beloved American comedy series — created by Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas, and starring Andy Griffith (duh) as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor and Don Knotts as Barney Fife — was still the number one show on television the year it ended. (Needless to say, CBS probably would’ve liked to keep the sitcom around.) Luckily for fans, reruns are still available thanks to the show being in syndication for over 50 years.
1. Aunt Bee and Andy Griffith Didn’t Get Along… At All
Sweet Aunt Bee, say it ain’t so! Andy Griffith and Aunt Bee actress Frances Bavier didn’t like each other during filming. Apparently, Frances Bavier was not a fan of her character on the television series. The feud lasted so long that Bavier didn’t apologize until she was pretty much on her deathbed.
2. Don Knotts Left the Show Because of Some Bad Communication
When the show was starting the first season, Andy Griffith told Don Knotts that he only wanted to do it for five years so the two of them both signed five-year contracts. At the end of five years, Knotts started looking for new work and signed a three-year picture deal with Universal. But by that point, Griffith wanted to keep doing the show. He offered Knotts a new contract, but it conflicted with the one he’d just signed with Universal, so he was forced to leave the show. Hence why Deputy Barney Fife wasn’t in the last few seasons of the show, nor was his girlfriend Thelma Lou, played by Betty Lynn.
3. Opie Pretty Much Never Had a Mom
Talk about a weak backstory. All we know about Ron Howard’s character’s mother is that she died when he was a “speck of a boy.” They never even gave her a name. Poor Opie.
4. Andy Griffith Thought He’d be the Funny One on the Show… Then Don Knotts Happened
At the time of the show’s premiere, Andy Griffith was a popular stand up comic. He assumed that he was going to be the main comedic character on the show, especially since, you know, it was his show. But a funny thing happened along the way. Mainly, Don Knotts. Barney Fife was far and away the fan-favorite, comedy-wise, so Griffith decided that in the interest of the show he would become the straight man to Fife’s comic relief.
5. The Andy Griffith Show Shared a Minor Character with Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C
His name was Mister Schwamp, and pretty much all he did was sit on a bench. Sometimes Sheriff Taylor or Barney Fife would say “hi” to him but that was about it. Turns out he was the show’s production manager. There was also a character in the show named Goober Pyle, the cousin of Jim Nabors’ Gomer Pyle.
6. Sheriff Andy Taylor is a GOAT Dad
Andy Taylor was ranked number 8 in TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” (June 20, 2004 issue). His son Opie didn’t have a mom, but at least his dad was great. Andy also had his fair share of great girlfriends like Ellie Walker and Helen Crump.
7. The Show Filmed on the Same Set as an All-Time Movie Classic
The Andy Griffith Show shot on the same set as the film Gone with the Wind. We sort of wonder if every studio in Hollywood just had one “small town” set they shot everything on.
8. The Show Won Two Emmy Awards
Don Knotts and Frances Bavier each won for Best Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series, respectively. Andy Griffith was never nominated. The show was also once nominated for Best Comedy Series, but it lost.
9. One of the Most Popular Characters was Out of Line with the Show’s Conservative Themes
The Andy Griffith Show and the residents of Mayberry were famous (and beloved) for upholding the strict moral codes of the 1950s and early 1960s. Even for TV shows of the time, The Andy Griffith Show was considered wholesome. Despite that, of the audience’s favorite characters was Otis Campbell, the town drunk, played by Hal Smith.
10. The Andy Griffith Show Didn’t Really End When it Ended
The Andy Griffith Show may have ended in 1968, but it was immediately followed by a spinoff, Mayberry R.F.D. Though Andy Taylor was no longer the main character (he did appear in five episodes), other favorites like Aunt Bee, Howard Sprague, and Goober Pyle were still there. The show was never as popular as the original, however, and only lasted three seasons.
11. Aunt Bee Once Smacked Someone With an Umbrella for Cursing
On-camera Mayberry may have been a wholesome place, but off-camera the comedians talked like, well, comedians. Frances Bavier as very much not a fan of this. So much so that she once took her umbrella and smacked George Lindsey (who played Goober Pyle) over the head with an umbrella for his naughty language.
This article was originally published in 2019. Thanks to our friends at Wide Open Country for contributing to this article.