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The Andy Griffith Show is an American situation comedy television series that aired on CBS from October 3, 1960, to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 half-hour episodes spanning eight seasons—159 in black and white and 90 in color.
The series originated partly from an episode of The Danny Thomas Show. The show stars Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor, the widowed sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina, a fictional community of roughly 2,000–5,000 people. Other major characters include Andy s cousin, the well-meaning and enthusiastic deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts); Andy s aunt and housekeeper, Bee Taylor (Frances Bavier); and Andy s young son, Opie (Ron Howard). Eccentric townspeople and, periodically, Andy s girlfriends complete the cast. Regarding the tone of the show, Griffith said that despite a contemporary setting, the show evoked nostalgia, saying in a Today Show interview, Well, though we never said it, and though it was shot in the 60s, it had a feeling of the 30s. It was, when we were doing it, of a time gone by.
The series never placed lower than seventh in the Nielsen ratings, ending its final season at number one. The only other shows to end their runs at the top of the ratings are I Love Lucy (1957) and Seinfeld (1998). On separate occasions, it has been ranked by TV Guide as the ninth- and thirteenth-best series in American television history. Though neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight-season run, co-stars Knotts and Bavier accumulated a combined total of six Emmy Awards. The series spawned its own spin-off—Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. (1964–1969) and a reunion telemovie, Return to Mayberry (1986).
After the eighth season, when Griffith left the series, it was retitled Mayberry, R.F.D., with Ken Berry and Buddy Foster replacing Griffith and Howard in new roles. In the new format, it ran for 78 episodes, ending in 1971 after three seasons. Reruns of The Andy Griffith Show are often shown on TV Land, MeTV, The CW, Pluto TV, and SundanceTV. On those channels, the episodes are edited to make room for commercials, but some airings on SundanceTV air the full uncut versions. The complete series is available on DVD and Blu-ray and is intermittently available on such streaming video services as Amazon Prime. Mayberry Days, an annual festival celebrating the sitcom, is held each year in Griffith s hometown, Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Sheldon Leonard—producer of The Danny Thomas Show—and Danny Thomas hired veteran comedy writer Arthur Stander (who had written many of the Danny Thomas episodes) to create a pilot show for Griffith, featuring him as justice of the peace and newspaper editor in a small town. At the time, Broadway, film, and radio star Griffith was interested in attempting a television role, and the William Morris Agency told Leonard that Griffith s rural background and previous rustic characterizations were suited to the part. After conferences between Leonard and Griffith in New York City, Griffith flew to Los Angeles and filmed the episode. On February 15, 1960, The Danny Thomas Show episode Danny Meets Andy Griffith aired. In the episode, Griffith played fictional Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina, who arrests Danny Williams (Thomas character) for running a stop sign. Future players in The Andy Griffith Show, Bavier and Howard, appeared in the episode as townspeople Henrietta Perkins and Opie Taylor (the sheriff s son), respectively. General Foods, sponsor of The Danny Thomas Show, had first access to the spin-off and committed to it immediately. On October 3, 1960, at 9:30 p.m., The Andy Griffith Show made its debut.
The sitcom s production team included producers Aaron Ruben (1960–1965) and Bob Ross (1965–1968). First-season writers (many of whom worked in pairs) included Jack Elinson, Charles Stewart, Arthur Stander and Frank Tarloff (as David Adler ), Benedict Freedman and John Fenton Murray, Leo Solomon and Ben Gershman, and Jim Fritzell and Everett Greenbaum. During season six, Greenbaum and Fritzell left the show and Ruben departed for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., a show which he owned in part. Writer Harvey Bullock left after season six. Bob Sweeney directed the first three seasons save the premiere. The show was filmed at Desilu Studios, with exteriors filmed at Forty Acres in Culver City, California. Woodsy locales were filmed north of Beverly Hills at Franklin Canyon, including the opening credits and closing credits with Andy and Opie walking to and from the fishin hole . Don Knotts, who knew Griffith professionally and had seen The Danny Thomas Show episode, called Griffith during the developmental stages of the show and suggested the Sheriff character needed a deputy. Griffith agreed. Knotts auditioned for the show s creator and executive producer, Sheldon Leonard, and was offered a five-year contract playing Barney Fife. The show s theme music, The Fishin Hole, was composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer, with lyrics written by Everett Sloane, who also guest starred as Jubal Foster in the episode The Keeper of the Flame (1962). Whistling in the opening sequence, as well as the closing credits sequence, was performed by Earle Hagen. One of the show s tunes, The Mayberry March, was reworked a number of times in different tempo, styles and orchestrations as background music. The show s sole sponsor was General Foods, with promotional consideration paid for (in the form of cars) by Ford Motor Company (mentioned in the credits).
Griffith s development of Andy Taylor
Initially, Griffith played Taylor as a heavy-handed country bumpkin, grinning from ear to ear and speaking in a hesitant, frantic manner. The style recalled that used in the delivery of his popular monologues such as What It Was, Was Football. He gradually abandoned the rustic Taylor and developed a serious and thoughtful characterization. Producer Aaron Ruben recalled:
He was being that marvelously funny character from No Time for Sergeants, Will Stockdale … One day he said, My God, I just realized that I m the straight man. I m playing straight to all these kooks around me. He didn t like himself … and in the next season he changed, becoming this Lincolnesque character.
As Griffith stopped portraying some of the sheriff s more unsophisticated character traits and mannerisms, it was impossible for him to create his own problems and troubles in the manner of other central sitcom characters such as Lucy in I Love Lucy or Archie Bunker in All in the Family, whose problems were the result of their temperaments, philosophies and attitudes. Consequently, the characters around Taylor were employed to create the problems and troubles, with rock-solid Taylor stepping in as problem solver, mediator, advisor, disciplinarian and counselor.
Premise and characters
The series revolves around Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), the sheriff of the sleepy, slow-paced fictional community of Mayberry, North Carolina. His laid-back, level-headed approach to law enforcement makes him the scourge of local moonshiners and out-of-town criminals, while his abilities to settle community problems with common-sense advice, mediation, and conciliation make him popular with his fellow citizens. His professional life, however, is complicated by the repeated gaffes of his inept deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Barney is Andy s cousin and best friend. At home, widower Andy raises his young son Opie (Ronny Howard), assisted by his maiden aunt and housekeeper, Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier). Opie tests his father s parenting skills season after season, and Aunt Bee s ill-considered romances and adventures cause her nephew concern.
Andy s friends and neighbors include, at various times, barber Floyd Lawson (Howard McNear; Walter Baldwin portrayed the role in the 1960 episode Stranger in Town ), service station attendants and cousins Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) and Goober Pyle (George Lindsey), and local drunkard Otis Campbell (Hal Smith). There are two mayors over the course of the series: Mayor Pike (Dick Elliott) is more relaxed, but often indecisive, while Mayor Roy Stoner (Parley Baer) has a more assertive personality. Other semi-regulars include townswoman Clara Edwards (Hope Summers), Barney s sweetheart Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) and Andy s schoolteacher sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut). Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) is Andy s girlfriend in the first season, while Peggy McMillan (Joanna Moore) is a nurse who becomes his girlfriend in season 3. In the color seasons, County Clerk Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) and handyman Emmett Clark (Paul Hartman) appear regularly, while Barney s replacement deputy Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns) appears in about half of season six.
Ernest T. Bass made his first appearance in episode #94 ( Mountain Wedding ), as well as four later episodes. The actor who portrayed him, Howard Morris, also played George, the television repairman in episode #140 ( Andy and Helen Have Their Day ) and two uncredited voice roles, as Leonard Blush and a radio announcer. Morris also directed a total of eight episodes of the show, none while portraying Ernest T. Bass.
Unseen characters such as telephone operator Sarah, and Barney s love interest, local diner waitress Juanita Beasley, as mentioned in the first season, are often referenced. The show s announcer for the first five seasons, Colin Male, portrayed Game Warden Peterson in Episode #140 ( Andy and Helen Have Their Day ).
In the series last few episodes, farmer Sam Jones (Ken Berry) debuts and later becomes the lead of the retitled show, Mayberry R.F.D. Don Knotts, Aneta Corsaut, Jack Dodson and Betty Lynn also appeared on Griffith s later show Matlock.
|First aired||Last aired|
|Intro||1||February 15, 1960||—||—||—|
|1||32||October 3, 1960||May 22, 1961||4||27.8||13.12|
|2||31||October 2, 1961||May 7, 1962||7||27.0||13.10|
|3||32||October 1, 1962||May 6, 1963||6||29.7||14.93|
|4||32||September 30, 1963||May 18, 1964||5||29.4||15.17|
|5||32||September 21, 1964||May 3, 1965||4||28.3||14.91|
|6||30||September 13, 1965||April 11, 1966||6||26.9||14.48|
|7||30||September 12, 1966||April 10, 1967||3||27.4||15.10|
|8||30||September 11, 1967||April 1, 1968||1||27.6||15.64|
The show comprises eight full seasons and 249 episodes—159 episodes in black and white (seasons 1–5) and 90 in color (seasons 6–8). Griffith appears in all 249 episodes with Howard appearing in 209. Only Griffith, Howard, Bavier, Knotts and Hope Summers appeared in all eight seasons. Knotts left the show at the end of season five to pursue a career in films (on the show, it is told that he takes a job as a detective with the Raleigh Police Department) but returned to make five guest appearances as Barney in seasons six through eight. His last appearance is in the final season, in a story about a summit meeting with Russian dignitaries ranked eleventh among single comedy programs most watched in television between 1960 and 1984, with an audience of thirty-three and a half million.
Reruns, spinoffs and reunions
In 1964, daytime reruns began airing during the fall season and has been in syndication for 58 years. The show was retitled Andy of Mayberry to distinguish the repeat episodes from the new episodes airing in primetime.
At the end of season four (May 1964), the backdoor pilot Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. aired and the following September, the spinoff series Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. debuted with Jim Nabors in the role of Gomer and Frank Sutton as drill instructor Sergeant Vince Carter.
In the last episodes of the eighth season, as Griffith was preparing to leave, the character Sam Jones, played by Ken Berry, was introduced as the new star and the series was retitled Mayberry R.F.D. Most of the cast members continued their original roles, with Bavier becoming Sam s housekeeper. To create a smooth transition, Andy and Helen were married in the first episode with the new title and remained for a few additional episodes before leaving with a move to Raleigh, effectively ending their appearances.
After RFD s cancellation in 1971, George Lindsey played Goober for many years on the popular country-variety show Hee Haw.
Goober, Barney and Emmett all made appearances in the series premiere of The New Andy Griffith Show, which starred Griffith as a similar but canonically different character, Mayor Andy Sawyer. All three characters treated Sawyer as if he were Andy Taylor. The series as a whole only lasted ten episodes.
In 1986, the reunion telemovie Return to Mayberry was broadcast with several cast members reprising their original roles. Absent, however, was Frances Bavier. She was living in Siler City, North Carolina in ill health and declined to participate. In the TV movie, Aunt Bee is portrayed as deceased (and in fact, Bavier did die three years later), with Andy visiting her grave. Also absent were Howard McNear, Paul Hartman, Jack Burns and the cast members who were featured only in the Mayberry RFD seasons.
Griffith and Howard reprised their roles a final time for a Funny or Die skit supporting the 2008 presidential campaign of Barack Obama.
In 1993, The Andy Griffith Show had a Reunion Special which featured Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Jim Nabors, George Lindsey and Jack Dodson.
In 2003, four surviving cast members (Griffith, Howard, Knotts, and Nabors) came together for a reunion special that featured the actors reminiscing about each other s time on the show. The production was interspersed with archival footage and short filmed interviews with some of the other surviving cast members. This special was called The Andy Griffith Show: Back to Mayberry.
The Andy Griffith Show was a top ten hit through its entire run, never ranking lower than seventh place in the yearly ratings. A Nielsen study conducted during the show s final season (1967–68) indicated the show ranked number one among blue collar workers followed by The Lucy Show and Gunsmoke. Among white collar workers, the show ranked number three following Saturday Movies and The Dean Martin Show. The Andy Griffith Show is one of only three shows to have its final season be the number one ranked show on television, the other two being I Love Lucy and Seinfeld. In 1998, the year Seinfeld ended, more than five million people a day watched the show s reruns on 120 stations.
Awards and nominations
- Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor or Actress in a Series: Don Knotts – Won
- Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor – Nominated (Winner: The Jack Benny Program)
- Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor: Don Knotts – Won
- Outstanding Program Achievement in the Field of Humor – Nominated (Winner: The Bob Newhart Show)
- Outstanding Performance in a Supporting Role by an Actor: Don Knotts – Won
- Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Don Knotts for The Return of Barney Fife – Won
- Outstanding Comedy Series – Nominated (Winner: The Monkees)
- Outstanding Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Don Knotts for Barney Comes to Mayberry – Won
- Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Comedy: Frances Bavier – Won
TV Land Awards
- Favorite Second Banana: Don Knotts – Won (2003)
- Single Dad of the Year: Andy Griffith – Won (2003)
- Legend Award – Won (2004)
- In 1997, the episode Opie the Birdman was ranked No. 24 on TV Guide s 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.
- In 2002, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show ninth on its list of the 50 Best Shows of All Time.
- Bravo ranked Andy Taylor 63rd on their list of the 100 greatest TV characters.
- In 2013, TV Guide ranked The Andy Griffith Show number 15 on their list of the 60 Greatest Shows of All Time.
Merchandise and pop culture
Very little merchandise was produced for The Andy Griffith Show during its original run, a peculiarity for a hit TV show in the 1960s. One theory for the lack of merchandise is that the show s producers, Griffith in particular, wanted to protect its image as a realistic and thoughtful offering and keep the public s focus on the show itself rather than its branding. Among the handful of merchandise released during the show s first run, Dell Comics published two The Andy Griffith Show comic books, one drawn by Henry Scarpelli, the other by Bill Fraccio. In 2004, copies in near-mint condition were priced in excess of $500 each. There was also a soundtrack album, two coloring books, and a 1966 Grape-Nuts cereal box with a photo of Griffith in character as Sheriff Andy Taylor beside a lemon pie recipe on the back. The show s enduring popularity has spawned considerable merchandise during the decades following its cancellation, including board games, bobblehead dolls, kitchenware, and books. In 2007, a line of canned foods inspired by the series was made available in grocery stores across America.
Griffith s hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, annually hosts a week-long Mayberry Days celebration featuring concerts, parades and appearances by the show s players.
In 2003, the country band Rascal Flatts released the song Mayberry and many of the lyrics pay tribute to the show. The 1989 song Floyd the Barber by American grunge band Nirvana references multiple characters from the show, including Floyd, Barney, Opie, Andy, and Aunt Bee.
The cable television network TV Land erected bronze statues of Andy and Opie in Mount Airy and Raleigh, North Carolina (see: Pullen Park).
The Taylor Home Inn in Clear Lake, Wisconsin, is a bed-and-breakfast modeled after the Taylor Home. The Mayberry Cafe in Danville, Indiana, features Aunt Bee s Fried Chicken and a replica of Andy s Ford Galaxie police car.
In 2021, the original feature film Mayberry Man was produced by children of actors from The Andy Griffith Show featuring Mayberry tribute artists set in a fictitious modern-day Mayberry.
In the late 1980s, Premier Promotions released various episodes on VHS. Most tapes had either two or four episodes. In the early to mid-1990s, United American Video released VHS tapes of various episodes. They either had two or three episodes. These compilations were culled from episodes early in the show s run that had lapsed into the public domain; these episodes continue to be circulated on unofficial video releases. Between 2004 and 2006, Paramount Home Entertainment and later in 2006, CBS Home Entertainment released all eight seasons as single-season packages on Region 1 DVD. The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series was first released as a 40-disc boxed set in 2007. In addition to all 249 episodes of the series, its bonus features included the episode Danny Meets Andy Griffith from The Danny Thomas Show which served as the pilot, the episode Opie Joins the Marines from Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. which featured Ron Howard and the 95-minute, made-for-television comedy film Return to Mayberry. In 2016, The Andy Griffith Show: The Complete Series was repackaged and released again as a 39-disc set that featured all 249 episodes of the series but did not include the bonus feature disc. The last 16 episodes of the third season, which lapsed into the public domain after CBS neglected to file copyright renewals on the episodes in 1989, are available on discount DVDs. The 2007 lawsuit CBS Operations Inc v. Reel Funds International Inc. ruled that the episodes in question were derivative works based on the copyrighted episodes even though the episodes themselves were not under copyright and granted CBS indirect copyright over the public domain episodes; the ruling enjoined Reel Funds International, a public domain distributor, from selling DVDs with those episodes within the jurisdiction of the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date|
|The First Season||32||November 16, 2004|
|The Second Season||31||May 24, 2005|
|The Third Season||32||August 16, 2005|
|The Fourth Season||32||November 22, 2005|
|The Fifth Season||32||February 14, 2006|
|The Sixth Season||30||May 9, 2006|
|The Seventh Season||30||August 29, 2006|
|The Final Season||30||December 12, 2006|
|The Complete Series||249||May 29, 2007|
|The Complete Series||249||February 16, 2016|
Note: The Region 1 release of The Third Season contains two episodes edited for syndication: The Darlings Are Coming —which had several scenes cut—and Barney Mends a Broken Heart, which had its epilogue cut.
|Plot||Widower Sheriff Andy Taylor, and his son Opie, live with Andy’s Aunt Bee in Mayberry, North Carolina. With virtually no crimes to solve, most of Andy’s time is spent philosophizing and calming down his cousin Deputy Barney Fife.|
|Awards||Won 6 Primetime Emmys, 14 wins & 5 nominations total|
|Stars||Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Don Knotts|
|Series Produced by||Sheldon Leonard, Aaron Ruben, Richard O. Linke, Bob Ross, Jerry Jameson, Jay Sandrich, Danny Thomas|
|Series Music by||Earle Hagen, Pete Carpenter, Carl Brandt|
|Series Cinematography by||Sidney Hickox|
|Series Film Editing by||Tom Stevens, Ben Ray, Bob Lewis, Marshall Neilan Jr., Alan Jaggs, Robert Fritch, Joseph Gluck, Bud S. Isaacs, Bud Molin, Leon Selditz, Robert Moore, Archie Dattelbaum, Roy V. Livingston, Jerry Jameson, Earl Biddle|
|Series Casting By||Ruth Burch, Fred Roos, Mike Fenton|
|Series Art Direction by||Kenneth A. Reid, Harold Michelson, Howard Campbell, Ralph Berger, Walter Holscher, Rolland M. Brooks|
|Series Set Decoration by||Ken Swartz, Harry Gordon, Robert Priestley|
|Series Costume Design by||Stanley Kufel, Robert O Dell, Bob Christenson, Ann Helfgott, Marge Makau, Florence Albert|
|Series Makeup Department||Lee Greenway, Eva Kryger, Carmen Dirigo, Eleanor Edwards, Donna McDonough|
|Series Production Management||Frank E. Myers, Ronald Jacobs, W. Argyle Nelson, Edward M. Hillie|
|Series Second Unit Director or Assistant Director||Robert Saunders, Bruce Bilson, Buddy Messinger|
|Series Art Department||Reggie Smith, Ideal Dottini, Reggie Smith|
|Series Sound Department||Charles David Forrest, Robert Reeve, Eldon Campbell, Victor Guarnier, Dick Maier, Max M. Hutchinson, Dick Le Grand, Gene Corso, James Nelson, Leonard Davison, Jack A. Goodrich, Terrance Emerson, Bill B. Keith, John Speak|
|Series Camera and Electrical Department||Michael A. Jones, Joe Barnes|
|Series Costume and Wardrobe Department||Joan Joseff|
|Series Editorial Department||Joseph Gluck, Ben Ray, Jerry Jameson, Alan Jaggs|
|Series Music Department||Herbert W. Spencer, Donn Cambern, Alan Jaggs, Ken Johnson, Mark Southern, Ed. Norton, Lloyd Young, John Mick|
|Series Script and Continuity Department||Hazel W. Hall, Bob Ross, Rosemary Dorsey, Kay Thackery, Fred S. Fox, Dorothy Aldworth, Pat Miller, Marjorie Mullen, Mollie Kent, Jane Ficker|
|Series Transportation Department||Frank Khoury|
|Series Additional Crew||Aaron Ruben, Doris Hartley, Joel Swanson, Jay Sandrich, Ronald Jacobs, Bob Ross, Mitch DeWood, Mike Fenton, I.A. Lipsey, Fred S. Fox, Sylvia Lewis|
|Companies||CBS, Danny Thomas Enterprises, Mayberry Enterprises|
|Keywords||widower,sheriff,unseen character,town drunk,male protagonist|