The Andy Griffith Show ran for 8 seasons on CBS (1960-1968). It remains with us, not only in our hearts, but in reruns, the world over. Perhaps more so than in any other familiar "classic" television show, Sheriff Andy, Deputy Barney Fife, Opie, Aunt Bee, Goober, Gomer, Floyd the barber et. al. seem more like friends to us than fictional characters. And although Mayberry may be a fictional town, I think, in times of stress, angst, and overwhelm in our own world, we all like to close our eyes and wish it were a real place.
Let's take a look at a few facts behind the beloved classic The Andy Griffith Show.
1. The characters were introduce on another show.
Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his son Opie (Ronnie Howard) were first seen in a February 1960 episode of Make Room for Daddy. Aunt Bee (Francis Bavier) was also featured in this episode, but was introduced as Harriet Perkins.
2. The opening theme song was called "The Fishin' Hole."
It was composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer. That's Earle you hear whistling the song himself on the show's opening and closing credits. Everett Sloane composed the lyrics to the song, which were never used on the series. Andy Griffith actually made a record of the words to the song. You can hear it on YouTube.
3. Andy's homage to his dad.
At the beginning of the show, where you see Andy and Opie walking down the road together, you will see Opie throwing a rock and Andy nodding or shaking his head in acknowledgement. This was Andy's personal tribute to his own father, who he said would shake his head in the same manner to tell him "nice work" or "good job."
4. Andy was supposed to be "the funny one."
The original concept of the show was for Andy to be the show's resident comedian, a sort of homey Will Rogers-type cracker barrel philosopher. Andy would comment and make jokes about the show's other characters. But after seeing Don Knotts in the first episode, Andy knew Barney would be the show's resident "funny man" and Andy would be his straight man.
5. Andy and Barney were originally cousins.
In season one, Andy would occasionally refer to Barney as "cousin Barney", and the two were written as cousins. This idea was dropped after a few episodes.
6. Floyd the barber had trouble standing up.
Because he had suffered a stroke, Howard MacNear (who played the barber) had trouble standing. A special stool was built to make it appear Floyd was standing when he was in fact half-sitting or leaning. Floyd was also often seen sitting in his barber chair or sitting on a bench outside his shop. (Howard's stroke also left his left side paralyzed. Watch Floyd closely in later episodes, you'll notice he will never move his left hand.)
7. Floyd's calendar.
Take a good look next time you see the calendar in Floyd's barber shop. It's always on the month of February.
8. Aunt Bee did not like Andy.
Yes, sadly, this rumor is true- Francis Bavier, for whatever reason, never liked Andy Griffith. Andy Griffith admitted he never quite understood her dislike. In 1972, long after the series was cancelled, Andy and Ronnie Howard paid a visit to Francis' home. They were turned away.
In 1989, shortly before her death, Francis told Andy she regretted they were not closer all those years.
9. Don Knotts got sent lots of "single bullets."
In the show, Barney couldn't be trusted with a loaded gun and Andy would relegate him to a single bullet, which he would often have to take away. Don Knotts said he was sent one bullet from fans all over America.
10. Barney's middle name is disputed.
In various episodes, Barney's middle name is given as Milton, Oliver, and once as the initial "P." (Andy's middle name is not, however, nebulous and is Jackson.)
11. Andy's home address is disputed.
Like Barney's middle name, Andy's home address is also the subject of debate. In one episode, Aunt Bee says it is 332 Maple Street, but in another episode, Barney says it is 24 Elm Street.
12. Why "Opie"?
The name Opie for Andy's son (Ronnie Howard) came from Opie Cates. Opie Cates was a prominent band leader in the 1930's and '40's. Both Andy Griffith and the show's producer Sheldon Leonard were admirers of Cates.
13. Why "Ange"?
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.
14. The only African-American with a speaking part.
Mayberry may seem like a utopia to some, but multicultural it wasn't. In the show's 248 episodes, Rockne Tarkington was the only African-American to ever have a speaking role n the show. Rockne played Opie's football coach in the 1967 episode "Opie's Piano Lesson.”
15. It left the air at number one.
Only three shows in television history ever left the air while holding the number one spot in the ratings. The Andy Griffith Show was, indeed, #1 when it went off in 1968. The other two?
I Love Lucy in 1957 and Seinfeld in 1998.