The quiet little TV series also marked the start of Ron Howard‘s career, first as an actor — perhaps best known for playing Richie in Happy Days — and later as the Oscar-winning director of movies like A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, Parenthood, Backdraft, Frost/Nixon, Thirteen Lives, and many other acclaimed films. (He also co-created talented actress Bryce Dallas Howard.)
Griffith portrayed Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, as he dealt with small crimes, settling community problems, and being a father to his son Opie.
To this day, the fictional world of Mayberry is often considered the prototypical small American town, where everyone knows everyone — and, for the most part, gets along.
Even people who’ve never seen more than a handful of episodes — or even an episode, in some cases — remember the show’s light-hearted theme, whistled simply and cheerfully. Below, you will find a video with 23 seconds of music that will take you right back to Mayberry.
Andy Griffith, Don Knotts team best “doin’ nothing”
By Charles Wilbeck in The Salina Journal (Salina, Kansas) July 25, 1961
One of the more pleasant combinations this season has been the teaming of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts on the Monday night Andy Griffith Show.
It concerns life in a small town as viewed by a tolerant, good-hearted sheriff and his deputy, Barney Fife, a lovable little man who tries to act tough like a cop should, but is most ineffectual.
The best thing Andy and Knotts do together is “doin’ nothing,” according to Griffith. “We can just do a little bit of that — not too much,” says Andy.
“Sometimes we find little goodies and we stop the story to do it. I think these little bits put us over as a success. The storylines really did it, but the character byplay was a big help.”
Andy and Don Knotts sit in on the story conferences with the producer Aaron Robin and director Bob Sweeney. This is the conference after the writers have done their bit and, at this time, both Knotts and Griffith have their say. If they don’t like a line, it generally goes out.
He’s sharp on The Andy Griffith Show
“I have a say,” says Andy, “because I know better than anyone else what people in little towns are like.”
He is also the star of the show, and he has a sharp brain behind his lazy exterior. Andy also puts in country sayings that a lot of people on the show, the Hollywood kids, don’t understand.
“I generally know ahead of time,” drawls Andy, “whether folks can understand me. But then I say a line on the set, and I hear somebody mutter, ‘What did he say?’ Then it gets up to the cutting room and a fellow runs the film through” and says, ‘What did he say?'”
Moved from Allen show
Don Knotts moved over from the Steve Allen Show, put on a uniform, and tried to become a deputy who goes by the book. As Barney, he’s very brave when sheriff Andy is beside him, and he puts in his piece about shaping up. He’s a spunky little fellow with a pale white face and voice that goes higher when he tries to be authoritative.
MORE ANDY GRIFFITH: Andy Griffith’s start in showbiz: From teaching to television (1960)
Of course, he goes by the theory that a small, wiry guy can take a big man any time, and he is dead wrong, but he has to believe it. And he is twice as brassy when Andy is there to protect him.
This character is nothing new, but Don Knotts brings it a special charm, and leaves fans with the feeling after a show that he should have more lines. He also makes Andy Griffith a straight man — something new for Griffith, but something he has done with apparent ease.