Do You Know These The Andy Griffith Show Facts?

Even the most popular television shows that people watch again and again have bits of behind-the-scenes secrets and details about the cast members that hide in the darkness. Here, we dig into the lesser-known aspects of The Andy Griffith Show. What strange things did fans mail to Don Knotts? Which episode was Andy Griffith’s favorite? And who was that mysterious actor who played Mr. Schwamp? Keep reading through to learn more about the beloved show and the surprising things that went on behind the scenes in Mayberry.

Andy Griffith Show Featured Real-Life Besties

Many viewers didn’t know that the loving relationship exhibited by Don and Andy on The Andy Griffith Show came from their real-life friendship.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

Griffith was raised in North Carolina while Knotts was raised in West Virginia as one of four boys.

A Real Jokester

Andy was really into playing pranks on his co-stars of The Andy Griffith Show. He targeted Don Knotts most of all. Don’s real first name was actually Jesse (which he hated) and Andy loved to tease him about it by calling him “Jess.”

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

This was opposite to the dynamic of the show, however, of which Griffith has said in an interview with the Register Herald, “By the second episode, I knew that Don should be funny and I should play straight.”

If The Shoe Fits

The cast pranked Andy right back, once stealing his shoes. He had to wear his big Sheriff boots home from the studio that day. The good-natured humor from the cast carried over into the tv episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

One instance is in the “Runaway Kid” episode where Opie and his friends pranked Sheriff Taylor by moving his car in front of a fire hydrant, so he would get a ticket.

Don Knotts Left The Show By Accident

When Andy Griffith originally agreed to the show, he told Don Knotts that he only wanted to keep the show on the air for five years. Both men signed five-year contracts and the show got underway.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

Knotts eventually signed a three-year deal with Universal Pictures. When Griffith decided to stay, Knotts wasn’t able to remain on the show.

Gone Fishin’ On The Andy Griffith Show

One of the most memorable aspects of The Andy Griffith Show is its opening credits, with the whistled tune and image of Andy and little Opie on their way to fish. The famous scene was filmed at Franklin Canyon Park, which is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

The lyrics of the theme music for the show, “The Fishin’ Hole” were written by Everett Sloane and composed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer.

Trickery On The Andy Griffith Show

Actor Ronny Howard was only six years old at the time and was simply not strong enough to throw the stone far enough to land in the lake. After several failed attempts, the assistant director decided to hide a prop man behind a bush.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

When Opie pretended to toss a rock, the prop man threw it instead. Watch the scene again — you might notice a very subtle lag between Opie’s throw and the resulting splash.

Aunt Bee Couldn’t Be Bothered

Frances Bavier, the actress who portrayed Aunt Bee on the show, supposedly did not have much of a sense of humor. Born into a well-to-do family in New York City, Bavier led a sophisticated life and attended Columbia University and the American Academy of Dramatic Arts before eventually ending up on The Andy Griffith Show.

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

She played the role for 10 years and in 1967 won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Comedy Actress.

A Prickly Relationship

Andy and Frances had a rather tense relationship for much of the show, as he was a real jokester and she didn’t care for his antics. Fortunately, the two made amends before her 1989 death.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

In fact, Frances Bavier phoned Griffith soon before her death and apologized for being “difficult” during filming. It’s nice to know that they were able to reconnect and proves that even if they didn’t always show it, the cast cared about one another.

The Cast Had Favorite Episodes

Andy Griffith’s favorite episode was season 3’s “Barney’s First Car,” in which Barney spends his life savings on an old car that doesn’t end up working. Ronny Howard’s favorite episode was “The Ball Game,” which was penned by his father, Rance Howard, who had his hand in writing and acting in five of the episodes.

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

Over eight seasons, from 1960 until 1968, an incredible 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show were filmed.

The Pickle Switch

Don Knotts particularly loved “The Pickle Story,” which is one episode that many fans cite as their favorite. In it, Aunt Bee makes a huge batch of pickles so disgusting that Barney refers to them as “kerosene cucumbers.”

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

Due to a hilarious turn of events, Andy and Barney must consume eight quarts of the nasty pickles. The episode is chock full of laugh-out-loud moments, and it’s quite clear that the men are honestly amused as they’re filming it.

They Quit While They Were Ahead

The Andy Griffith Show ended while it was at the top of the Nielsen’s Ratings. There have only been three television shows in history to do this: The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, and Seinfeld. The show’s reruns played for more than 50 years!

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coffeehound101/Pinterest
coffeehound101/Pinterest

The show was also a top ten his through its entire run and never fell below seventh place in the yearly ratings of television shows during its time.

No Contract

Barney Fife’s character could have lasted just one episode, as Don Knotts was one of many actors who showed up on the first day of filming without a firm offer of employment. Although it’s not mentioned often, only in a few early episodes, Barney is Andy’s cousin.

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

The character of Barney Fife was adored by fans and was ranked Ninth on TV Guide’s “50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time” list in 1999.

One Of The Show’s Biggest Mysteries

Opie’s mom is mentioned only one time during the series. In an episode titled “Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee,” Andy becomes nostalgic and tells Opie how much he had loved the boy’s mother. Viewers never hear any more about her or even see a photograph.

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Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
MovieStillsDB/CBS

However, in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show (which spawned The Andy Griffith Show), Andy relates that she died when Opie was just “the least little speck of a baby.”

The Mysterious Man And The Unknown Actor

You may have noticed a man named “Mister Schwamp” who would occasionally appear in random episodes. He was a middle-aged man with dark hair that appeared to be a toupee. He was usually found sitting on a park bench or in crowd scenes. Andy or Barney would acknowledge him with “Hello, Mister Schwamp” at which point he nodded and smiled.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

He also appeared in two episodes of the spin-off Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. To This very day, nobody knows who played Mr. Schwamp although it’s a hotly debated topic among fans. The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club even staged an April Fools’ Day prank in 2012 claiming that the actor was a man named Patch S. Wimmers.

Galaxie: The Car That Kept Changing

The iconic squad car used by Andy and Barney on the show was a Ford Galaxie. A local Ford dealership provided the show with a free replacement Galaxie each time a new model came out.

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

The dealer then took the old car back, repainted, and sold it. If he had thought about it a little more, the dear could have made a lot more money selling the cars as is!

That’s A Lot Of Cars

Overall, there were ten different Galaxies that were used throughout the series’ eight seasons. There are plenty of replicas out there today. The show was most sponsored by Ford Motor Company at the time, which is why the squad cars were always Ford Galaxie 500 sedans.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

Ford Motor Company is thanked for its contribution in the credits of the show. The show’s sole sponsor for all of its years, however, was actually General Foods.

There Was No On-Screen Chemistry

Elinor Donahue decided to call it quits after a single season on the show because she didn’t feel any on-screen chemistry with Andy Griffith. The actor would later admit that he always had a hard time showing affection during filming.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

Their relationship, for that reason, didn’t feel real so they called it quits after a single season to avoid an unbelievable relationship that was not working for the show.

Jim Nabors Got His Own Show

Mayberry’s lovable buffoon Gomer Pyle was played by actor Jim Nabors. After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Jim was given a spin-off show featuring the character.

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APacino/MovieStillsDB
APacino/MovieStillsDB

Nabors’s spin-off show was called Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., in which Gomer joins the Marines. Jim has a great singing voice and has recorded 28 albums.

Director Ron Howard

Ron has received a slew of awards for his works, including the National Medal of Arts. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013 and has not one, but two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. We’d say Opie has done pretty well for himself!

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

He went on to marry writer Cheryl Alley in 1975. Together, they have four children, including twin girls and two daughters who became actresses themselves.

Don Knotts Wore The Same Suit Throughout His Acting Career

Did you ever notice that Barney Fife regularly appeared in a white straw fedora with a salt-n-pepper pattern coat and a red bow tie? A little-known fact is that Don Knotts loved that suit so much that he wore it in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken, The Reluctant Astronaut, The Incredible Mr. Limpet, and How to Frame a Figg.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

It’s nice to have a trademark and now we know what Knotts found fashionable for quite a long period of time.

Aneta Corsaut Went to School While Acting

Helen Crump, portrayed by actress Aneta Corsaut, was Sheriff Andy Taylor’s girlfriend on the show who was also rumored to date Andy Griffith in real life.

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

Corsaut was a student at Northwestern University, majoring in drama before she dropped out to pursue her acting career. While The Andy Griffith Show was filming, Corsaut continued her education at UCLA.

Frances Bavier Became A Resident Of North Carolina

After The Andy Griffith Show, actress Frances Bavier opted to stay in North Carolina, versus returning to her native New York City. Although it might have been a huge change of pace, she had just become enamored with North Carolina when she spent time there.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Moving to Siler City, North Carolina in 1972, she later explained that she fell in love with the pretty roads and trees.

Aneta Continues Acting

Aneta returned for two reunion shows, 1986’s Return to Mayberry and 1993’s The Andy Griffith Show Reunion. Aneta also made appearances on dozens of TV shows.

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CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images
CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images

She appeared in Gunsmoke; Rich Man, Poor Man; and The Runaways.

Smith Lends His Voice

After The Andy Griffith Show, Hal Smith had many voice-over roles for animated films and television shows.

Wikipedia Commons
Wikipedia Commons

His roles included playing the Owl in Winnie the Pooh, Uncle Tex in The Flintstones, and John Avery Whittaker in Adventures in Odyssey.

Gomer’s Cousin Goober

played this bumbling cousin of Gomer Pyle, although he initially tried out for Gomer’s part. Goober was known on the show for the “Goober Dance” and his impressions of Cary Grant.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

He later acted in Gunsmoke, The Twilight Zone, and Hee Haw, among other shows.

A Charitable Fellow

George was a very generous man.

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Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images
Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Through the George Lindsey Celebrity Weekend and Golf Tournament, he raised over $1,000,000 over the span of 17 years for the Alabama Special Olympics.

Barney Fife Moves In

Although Don Knotts was best known as Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show, he later landed another wildly popular role as the hapless (but totally lovable) landlord Ralph Furley on Three’s Company, alongside John Ritter.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

Don also appeared in many, many television and film cameos.

Sheriff Andy Taylor Becomes A Lawyer

After The Andy Griffith Show, Andy starred in several TV shows, but none of them took off.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

Then, in 1986, he took the role of lawyer Ben Matlock in a series, aptly titled Matlock, that ended up being a huge hit, especially among senior citizens.

Andy And Barney’s Relationship Secrets

Pay attention in the first few episodes of the show, and you will learn about Andy and Barney being cousins. The idea was to joke about the stereotypical southern relationships that helped people land small-town jobs in local government.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

After a few references to that relationship in the first season, that backstory was dropped and they became “friends” since childhood.

Andy’s No Hulk

During production on the second season of the show, Andy Griffith punched a wall out of anger and broke his hand. His hand had to be heavily bandaged during filming.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

To explain the injury, the show’s producers said that Sheriff Taylor had been hurt while apprehending some criminals. That definitely sounds better than hearing that he punched a wall out of anger or frustration.

Why Helen Crump Has An Ugly Name

When Helen Crump appeared on the show she was given a horrible name because it was supposed to be a one-off appearance. Actress Aneta Corsaut ended up giving a great performance and developed a rapport with Andy Griffith.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

That was good enough to turn her into a regular character on the hit TV series. If they would have known she would become a regular, her name would have likely been more carefully selected.

Ron’s Real-Life Father, Actor Rance Howard

Ron Howard’s father, Rance Howard, was also an actor, in both television and film. They had a great father-son relationship, and Ron revealed that Andy and Opie’s relationship was built from the influence that his dad had on his real life.

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Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic
Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic

We know that Howard was a fan of bringing his family together and he would work with his father whenever given the chance. Based on what we saw on the show, he really had a strong relationship with his dad.

The Only Speaking Role

There were several African-American actors who appeared in the background scenes of The Andy Griffith Show but they were there as extras with non-speaking roles.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

However, Rockne Tarkington broke that streak when he appeared on the episode titled “Opie’s Piano Lesson.” He actually spoke lines on the show, becoming the only black actor to do so during its entire series run on TV. The Oscars committee would be proud.

The Whistling Theme Song

The Andy Griffith Show theme song is titled “The Fishin’ Hole.” The lyric version of the song was written by Everett Sloane. However, the show’s producers decided that whistling the tune was a better idea, so the theme song was performed by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer.

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

You can still find a version of Andy Griffith singing the lyrics on YouTube and you can even purchase the song with lyrics on iTunes. It’s hard to imagine the song with lyrics after all of these years. Who doesn’t still get the whistle stuck in their heads?

A Real-Life Nickname Was Used On The Show

Have you ever noticed that Barney regularly uses the name “Ange” when talking to Andy on the show? That was actually the real-life name that he gave to Andy Griffith. He created the nickname by shortening “Andy” and “Griffith” to “Ange.”

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

The nickname stuck and he decided to use it regularly during filming. There’s no way actors would get away with that type of real-life crossover on TV shows these days.

From Mayberry To Mount Airy

Andy Griffith long denied that the fictional town of Mayberry was based on his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina. In the episode titled “A Black Day for Mayberry,” Barney picks up a phone book from the Sheriff’s desk and starts flipping through its pages.

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Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Joe Sohm/Visions of America/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

You can plainly see that the words “Mount Airy” appear on the phone book’s front cover. It appears to be the real book for Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Andy And Opie’s Debut

The Andy Griffith Show didn’t debut until October 1960, however, the characters of Andy and Opie first showed up in the pilot episode of Make Room For Daddy. Both shows were produced by Danny Thomas.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The show was a spin-off that was quickly thrown together and turned into a full-blown iconic TV series loved by millions of fans. In the end, it was the perfect timing for the show.

The Operator Never Slept On The Job

There’s a character on the show who didn’t have a last name and we have to assume she was a robot because she worked 24 hours a day. Her name was Sarah and she was the telephone operator on the show.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

Her last name was never revealed and she appeared to always be on duty. She was also never seen on camera, but her voice was distinctive enough to know it was her at all times.

An Old Southern Phrase

Here’s a fun history lesson: There’s an old southern phrase, “that’s the time,” which is used on various occasions by Andy on the show. It is an old phrase that has some general meanings, including “good!” and “okay” and “that’s the right thing to do.”

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

If you watch the show now you will likely derive which of those meanings he was aiming for with the term. It was a subtle way for Griffith to interject his southern upbringing into the show.

Andy’s Got The Rights

Andy was focusing on film and not TV when the concept for his show was created by Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas. He had just finished A Face in the Crowd and No Time for Sergeants and decided he would give it a shot — but only if he was given rights to 50% of the show that would carry his name and reputation.

CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

They agreed, and he ended up owning half of the show’s rights. At the time of his death, Andy Griffith was estimated to have a personal fortune of $60 million.

From Sheriff To Southern Gospel Singer

Andy Griffith studied music, so it might not surprise many of his fans to learn that he was a southern gospel singer. He realized that he had a knack for gospel singing while testing his tonal abilities in several acting roles, most notably while starring in A Face in the Crowd.

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

He continued with his love of southern gospel singing for many years. It’s really hard for us to picture him in long and flowing gospel robes.

Frozen In Time

If you pay close attention inside Floyd’s barbershop you’ll notice that the scene is stuck in time. The calendar on Floyd’s wall is stuck on February for the entire run of the show. We don’t know if this was an oversight by the show’s directors and producers, or if they chose that small detail for some reason.

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CBS/The Andy Griffith Show
CBS/The Andy Griffith Show

In any case, it’s always February in Floyd’s barbershop. It’s almost like they knew the show would become a timeless classic.