The Andy Griffith Show
Synopsis of TV Show
Andy Griffith had already established a better than average career before he got his own television series. He frequently appeared on radio and television as a humorist, doing famous monologue-style routines like “What It Was, Was Football.” He had also experienced success as an actor in films like A Face In The Crowd and No Time For Sergeants. However, he truly became a show-business institution with The Andy Griffith Show.
The series began in 1960 as a spin-off from The Danny Thomas Show. It was set in the fictional small town of Mayberry and focused on Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith), a widower who lived with his young son Opie and his Aunt Bee. Bee filled in the mother's role for Opie, also keeping the house spotless and providing plenty of freshly-baked treats.
At the office, Andy was assisted by his always nervous cousin, Deputy Barney Fife. Since Mayberry had little to no crime (though Barney always kept one bullet in his pocket just in case), the show focused on the relationships between the townspeople. The show had a diverse and memorable collection of supporting characters: Floyd was the town’s barber, Gomer Pyle was a hick-ish gas station employee, Thelma Lou was Barney’s girlfriend, and Elly Walker ran the drugstore (as well as providing an early love interest for Andy).
The show plotlines usually were very simple, allowing maximum time for comic interaction between the show’s talented cast members. A typical example was “Aunt Bee’s Crowning Glory,” which depicted Aunt Bee becoming the talk of the town after getting a blonde wig. A recurrent theme in the stories involved Andy's using his wit and knowledge of human nature to help his often neurotic townspeople. Typical episodes in this mold included "Man In The Middle," which featured Andy trying to console Barney after an argument with Thelma Lou, and "Andy the Marriage Counselor," which had Andy counseling a Mayberry couple who constantly bickered with each other.
The show’s episodic format was generous to all its cast, giving the supporting characters as much opportunity to shine as the main star. As a result, certain cast members became popular in their own right and moved on. The first was Jim Nabors, who parlayed his success as Gomer Pyle into a spin-off series, Gomer Pyle, USMC. Gomer was replaced with Goober, Gomer’s cousin. Five-time Emmy winner Don Knotts (Barney Fife) moved on in 1965 to do his own variety series, The Don Knotts Show, as well as movies like The Ghost and Mr. Chicken and The Incredible Mr. Limpet. He was replaced with a new deputy, Warren Ferguson.
A significant later addition to the show was Miss Helen Crump, a schoolteacher who was added to the cast in 1964 and would go on to become Andy’s new love interest. When Griffith decided to quit the show in 1968, his departure was explained by having Sheriff Taylor marry Miss Crump and move away. This story was covered on Mayberry, R.F.D., a spin-off of the show that introduced a new widowed sheriff character, Sam Jones, to fill Griffith’s footsteps. The new series never achieved the across-the-board success of its predecessor, but did well enough to last three seasons.
Unlike many shows that get cancelled after a long run, The Andy Griffith Show had not suffered a long decline in its ratings before ceasing production. In fact, it was number one in the ratings when it ended, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when the show started drawing large audiences in re-runs. It is still watched by many viewers all over the world today via syndication. Griffith would continue to work on television and in films, finding big success in the 80’s with the detective show Matlock. Ron Howard (Opie) would later portray Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, another long-running classic of the sitcom genre, and move to on a successful career as a film director starting in the 1980’s. But no matter what later years brought and still may bring, Griffith and Howard will always be found walking the syndicated airwaves as Andy and Opie, holding a fishing pole and bucket, and whistling a peppy tune.
Release History of Prime Time Show10/3/60 - 9/16/68 - The Andy Griffith Show - CBS
9/23/68 - 9/6/71 - Mayberry, R.F.D. - CBS
TV Sub Categoriescomedy
Television StudioMayberry Enterprises
TV CastAndy Taylor Andy Griffith
Opie Taylor Ron Howard
Barney Fife (1960-65) Don Knotts
Ellie Walker (1960-61) Elinor Donahue
Aunt Bee Taylor Frances Bavier
Bertha Johnson Hope Summers
Clara Edwards Hope Summers
Gomer Pyle (1963-64) Jim Nabors
Helen Crump Aneta Corsaut
Goober Pyle (1965-66) George Lindsey
Floyd Lawson Howard McNear
Otis Campbell (1960-67) Hal Smith
Howard Sprague Jack Dodson
Sam Jones (1968) Ken Berry
Emmett Clark (1967-68) Paul Hartman
Thelma Lou (1960-65) Betty Lynn