Investigative Facts About Dragnet

Taking its name from the police term “Dragnet,” a system of coordinated procedures for taking down criminals, Dragnet is a radio, television, and film series beginning in 1949 and ending in 2004. It follows Los Angeles detective Sergeant Joe Friday and his partners as they solve cases, many of which were based on real-life events. Today, Dragnet is considered to be one of the most influential police procedural dramas in history and is noted for helping to improve the relationship between citizens and police officers. Take a look to see what made Dragnet so impactful, and how it paved the way for future crime shows.

It Was Inspired By A Movie Based On True Events

He Walked By Night poster
Eagle-Lion Films
Eagle-Lion Films

Dragnet creator and star John Rudolph “Jack” Webb became particularly interested in the behind-the-scenes details of police investigations while working on the 1948 film He Walked by Night. The movie was based on a real-life murder case with Webb cast as the crime lab technician.

The documentary-style of the film helped inspire Webb to create a similar police drama series. He then worked with Chief William H. Parker of the Los Angeles Police Department to develop the premise for Dragnet and his character Sergeant Joe Friday.

There Was Little Time To Go Over Lines

Photo of Jack Webb
FPG/Getty Images
FPG/Getty Images

If you watched enough Dragnet, you’d know that the dialogue is presented in a way that makes it feel almost formulaic. This is because, as a producer, Webb made sure to cut costs where he could, with one of these being limited rehearsal times.

Instead of memorizing their lines, he preferred that actors read them off of a teleprompter instead. This process worked out in a number of different cases, especially when Sergeant Friday is questioning a witness, which made it feel all the more realistic.

Webb Had A Clever Way Of Avoiding Special Effects

Picture of car accident
NBC
NBC

Constantly thinking about keeping the cost of the show to a minimum, Jack Webb also developed ways to avoid using special effects while successfully depicting a gruesome scenario.

An excellent example of this is in the 1967 episode “The Hit and Run Driver,” where Sergeant Joe Friday describes the horrific details of what happens in the first second of a head-on car collision at 55 miles an hour. During his description, he simultaneously shows a series of black-and-white photos of the accident, which helps to paint a disturbing picture in the viewer’s mind.

Lieutenant Klingin Was A Real Person

Webber and actors
NBC
NBC

In episodes throughout the show’s run, there are frequent references to a police officer known as Lieutenant Klingin, usually in situations that involved a lie detector test. A fun fact about the officer mentioned is that he was a real police officer with the LAPD who would sometimes act as an adviser for police matters on the show.

Furthermore, Gene Roddenberry, who created the Star Trek franchise, also worked in the LAPD’s public relations department and went on to name the Star Trek race “Klingons” after officer Klingin.

Keeping The Same Clothes

Jack Webb And Harry Morgan
Pinterest/Bob the Astorian
Pinterest/Bob the Astorian

In order to ensure that the show never had any real problems with continuity, the characters Joe Friday and Bill Gannon wore the same outfits in every episode. However, according to Harry Morgan, who played Gannon, he and Webb switched coats for one scene to see if any eagle-eyed viewers would notice.

The scene only featured Morgan, so no one even on set noticed the switch until after it had already been shot. This is considered to be the only time there was faulty continuity in regards to clothing on the show’s run.

Webb’s Connection With Cigarettes

dragnet series still image
NBC
NBC

Looking back, Dragnet was very in touch with the times that it was filmed in. The cars, clothing, and mannerisms of the characters all align perfectly with the time period, especially when it came to smoking.

Characters would smoke anytime and any place, which was not only realistic but helped put money in Webb’s pocket. Webb promoted cigarettes for L&M and Chesterfield cigarettes both in TV commercials and print advertisements, which bled into his character on the show. Unfortunately, his three-pack-a-day habit most likely caused his fatal heart attack at the age of 62.

The First Color Episode Of The Show Explored Psychadelic Substances

Man with face painted
NBC
NBC

Dragnet actually ended up having to separate runs on television. The first was in black and white, and the second was in color, premiering with its first episode “Blue Boy” in 1967. At the time of its premiere, some psychedelic substances were still legal, as the effects were still mostly a mystery.

The episode explored such substances and their effects, which was viewed as pretty progressive at the time. In 1997, TV Guide ranked the “Blue Boy” episode of Dragnet as No. 85 in its list of “100 Greatest Episodes of All Time.”

Changing Friday’s Position

Color version of Joe Friday
NBC
NBC

When the original run of Dragnet ended in 1959, Sergeant Joe Friday had been promoted to Lieutenant. However, Webb made the decision when starting the new run of the show to keep Joe Friday as a sergeant rather than continuing on with his promotion.

His logic behind this decision was according to Webb that “few people remember that Friday was promoted toward the end of our run. We think it’s better to have Joe a sergeant again. Few detective-lieutenants get out into the field.”

Frequent Guests Stars

Actors on Dragnet
NBC
NBC

Two of the show’s standard guest stars were Virginia Gregg and Bert Holland, who both appeared in 13 episodes, the most guest appearances for non-police roles. Clark Howat and Art Gilmore were also regulars on the show with Howat appearing in 21 episodes and Gilmore in 14.

The two would make appearances as higher-up police officers, although neither played the same role twice, but rather a mix of a series of captains, lieutenants, inspectors, and more.

Webb Was Honored By The Police

Webb in a tuxedo
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Police Department was so impressed with what Webb was able to accomplish with Dragnet and his portrayal of the police that they gave him an official detective badge with Friday’s number on it.

They also went on to name two buildings at the police academy after him, which were the Jack Webb Recruiting Building and Mark VII. Following his death, Webb was the first civilian to be buried with full police honors, and his character’s badge number, 714, was retired by the LAPD.

Webb Intended To Do A Third Run Of The Show

Jack Webb wearing a hat
Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Finding two runs of the show to not be enough, Webb had intentions of doing a third revival of the series in 1982. However, because of Harry Morgan’s commitment to working on the shows M*A*S*H and its spin-off AfterMash, he turned down Webb’s proposal to return.

Webb then figured he would cast Ken McCord as Friday’s new partner either as Jim Reed or a new character altogether. Unfortunately, his plan for a third run would never come to fruition as he died of a heart attack in 1982.

Alternate Weeks In Season Two

Jack Webb and Ben Alexander
Bettmann/Getty Images
Bettmann/Getty Images

During the second season of Dragnet, the show was aired unusually on alternate weeks when most shows were on a weekly basis. This is because Barton Yarborough, who played Friday’s original partner, Ben Romeo, had died during the filming of the first season.

In turn, this ended up putting a lot of stress on the filming schedule. It also resulted in several cast changes until Ben Alexander took over the role of Friday’s new and long-lasting partner, Frank Smith, from 1952 to 1957.

The Show Aided In The Creation Of Hit Singles

Ray Anthony Record
Pinterest
Pinterest

In the summer of 1953, the series resulted in the creation of two million-selling hit singles. The first was by Ray Anthony and his Orchestra, who recorded the theme music, which was titled “Dragnet,” which reached No.2 on the US Pop Charts.

The second, which reached No.1 on the charts, was a three-minute speaking satire performed by comedian Stan Freberg, along with his co-writers Daws Butler and June Foray, which was titled “St. George and the Dragonet.”

Some Episodes Were Based On Real-Life Cases

Dragnet cover
NBC
NBC

After being inspired while acting in the documentary-style film He Walks By Night, Technical Advisor Sergeant Marty Wynn of the LAPD, suggested that Webb make a radio show with a similar premise. The radio show went on to premiere in 1949.

Webb continued with this idea of real crime cases in the television version of the show, working closely with LAPD Detective Galindo, who worked on some of Los Angeles’ most notorious cases. Some of Detective Galindo’s experiences on the force were then tweaked and made into episodes.

Joe Friday Never Said “Just The Facts, Ma’am”

Photo of Stan Freberg
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Although “Just the facts, ma’am” is the most famous phrase to come out of the Dragnet franchise, it’s never actually in the show. Webb’s character Joe Friday would typically say, “All we want are the facts, ma’am” or “All we know are the facts, ma’am.”

The phrase came from satirist Stan Freberg on his 1953 record St. George and the Dragonet in which he changed the line slightly, which grew to be the timeless quote that we know today.

The Opening Of The Show Was Iconic

Dragnet intro
NBC
NBC

The prelude to each episode began with a narrator stating, “The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent.” This was first spoken by George Fenneman and later by Hal Gibney.

Following the prelude, Joe Friday started the story saying, “This is the city. Los Angeles, California. I work here. I’m a cop.” However, after some complaints from real-life police officers, he changed it to “I carry a badge.”

There Were Film Spin-Offs

Dan and Tom Hanks
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Midway through the series’ first run, a theatrical spin-off titled Dragnet was released in 1954. This was the first time in television history that a TV series spawned a movie, and the first time a movie spin-off was released while the original series was still running.

It was the first of three theatrical spin-offs. The other two were the made-for-TV Dragnet 1966 and Dragnet, a parody film starring Dan Aykroyd as Joe Friday’s nephew and Tom Hanks following in 1987.

There Were Remakes After Webb’s Death

New Dragnet cast
USA
USA

Although show creator and star Jack Webb passed away in 1982, that didn’t slow down the Dragnet franchise. The show returned in 1989 under the title The New Dragnet starring Jeff Osterhage and Bernard White as detectives Vic Daniels and Carl Molina. The show had 52 episodes over two seasons and came to an end in 1990.

Then, in 2003, L.A. Dragnet was released which was produced by Dick Wolf, the producer of the Law & Order series and its spin-offs, which were heavily influenced by the original Dragnet. Unfortunately, the show was canceled five episodes into its second season.

Webb Produced Several Spinoff Shows

Two actors as policemen
NBC
NBC

At one point, Webb made the decision to discontinue Dragnet after its fourth season to work on other spin-off projects. The first of these was a Dragnet spin-off titled Adam-12, which was a 30-minute police procedural show that focused on patrol officers instead of detectives like its parent show.

Premiering in 1968, the show ran for seven seasons, ending in 1975. In turn, Adam-12 spawned its own spin-off in 1972 titled Emergency!, which followed a Fire Department paramedic team. The show ran for one season and had several made-for-TV movies.

In Remembrance Of Webb’s Uncle

Ben Alexander and Jack Webber
Pinterest/Sheila Warner Eitinear
Pinterest/Sheila Warner Eitinear

Jack Webb was born in Santa Monica, California on April 2, 1920 to Samuel and Margaret Webb. Sadly, Webb never knew his father who left his mother before he was born.

The only real adult male figure he had in his life was his uncle Frank Smith, who had a positive impact on Webb’s life. Because of this, Sergeant Joe Friday’s partner in the 1950s run of the show was Officer Frank Smith who was played by Ben Alexander

Dan Aykroyd Really Admired Jack Webb

Aykroyd in a suit
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Dan Aykroyd, who starred in the 1987 film adaptation of the show, was a major fan of Jack Webb, the original Joe Friday.

As a tribute to the actor, in many of his other films, Aykroyd would have his characters say technical phrases the way that Joe Friday would do with laws and police procedures. Some examples of this include films he’s in such as Ghostbusters, The Blues Brothers, and 1941. Yet, few people know that this style of dialogue actually originated from Jack Webb.

A Change Of Characters

Freeman in Dragnet
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Actress Kathleen Freedman played the Nun in The Blues Brothers, one of Dan Aykroyd’s most iconic films. In the movie, she was the woman that beat John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s character’s with a ruler for using bad language.

Interestingly, Freedamn’s character in the film adaptation of the show, Enid Borden, uses foul language consistently throughout the film and is even threatened with a ticket by Friday, who was played by Dan Aykroyd. It’s likely that this was done on purpose.

Fans Gave Webb Ideas For The Show

Photo of Webb
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

After the episode “The Big Lay-Out” aired on the radio, a North Hollywood teenager sent Jack Webb a confidential letter, in which they described the illegal narcotics activity occurring in their neighborhood.

They even wrote down the real names of the places and people. After receiving the letter, Webb immediately turned the letter over to the LAPD and an investigation followed. After making some adjustments, he make the resulting case into the episode “The Big Note” in 1968.

Webb Turned Down A Role In Animal House

Picture of Dean Vernon
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Initially, Jack Webb was the first choice for the role of Dean Wormer in the 1978 film comedy, Animal House. However, Webb ended up turning the role down because he claimed that it was a disrespectful film towards authority. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean that Webb didn’t have any sense of humor.

He made a joke of himself about it on The Tonight Show With Johnny Carson Show. In 1968, Webb and Carson performed a sketch that became known as the “Copper Clapper Caper” in which Webb played a parody of his character Joe Friday.

A New Character In The Film

Picture of Tom Hanks
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

In the film, for the partner of Joe Friday, Aykroyd and co-writer Alan Zweibel made the decision to create an entirely new character that wasn’t a part of the original series of Dragnet.

They came up with the role of Pep Streebeck, a police officer that was much more relaxed than the very strict Friday. Unsurprisingly, Aykroyd wanted his good friend and fellow actor John Belushi to play the role, but it didn’t work out. In the end, Tom Hanks took up the role.

An Issue With Contracts

Picture of Harry Morgan
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

When a revival of the show was in the works, Jack Webb had planned on bringing back his original co-star Ben Alexander back onto the program as Officer Frank Smith. Unfortunately, at the time, Alexander was busy working on the project The Felony Squad.

On top of that, the network that was airing The Felony Squad, ABC, wouldn’t allow him out of his contract in order to appear on the revival of the show. Webb then decided to go with Harry Morgan to reprise his role of Bill Gannon, from the previous series.

Before And After Commercials

Picture before commercial
NBC
NBC

Right before the show would take it’s final commercial break, in its documentary style, the announcer would inform the audience of something related to the case, usually opening on the date in which the perpetrator’s trial would take place in Los Angeles.

After the commercial break, the camera would fade into what appeared to be the perpetrator’s mug shot and the results of the trial. Their name’s and the result of their trial were then announced and shown on the screen.

A Taste For Jazz

Picture of Harry
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

Although Jack Webb is known in the Los Angeles Police as an honorary officer, his passion wasn’t police work. In fact, it was jazz music. Supposedly, Webb had a collection of more than 6,000 jazz records.

He also played music himself and and was successful at it. For example, numerous of his songs acquired a cult following such as his track “Try a Little Tenderness.” While in the jazz community, he met Julie Landon whom he married in 1947. He would then go to on marry three more times.

Webb Acted In Films While Shooting The Show

Picture of Webb
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images
Earl Leaf/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

In the early days of the show, Webb continued to act in movies, most notably as the best friend of William Holden’s character in the 1950 Billy Wilder film Sunset Boulevard. Furthermore, he appeared alongside his future Dragnet partner Harry Morgan in the film noir Dark City.

In the film, the two played opposite characters than they did on the show, which showed their acting range. Webb was also involved in a radio series title Pete Kelly’s Blues, which was adapted into a film of the same name, although neither were successful.

Webb Left Behind A Legacy

Webb with a phone
NBC/Getty Images
NBC/Getty Images

While it’s not an accomplishment that many celebrities ever end up achieving, Jack Webb impressively has not one, but two, stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He has one for radio which is located at 7040 Hollywood Boulevard and the other for television at 6728 Hollywood Boulevard.

He was also posthumously inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1992. He’s one of the few individuals to be awarded with such an honor on the Walk of Fame.

It Was Not The First Adaptation

Hanks and Aykroyd
Universal Studioss
Universal Studioss

Although it is arguably the most popular, the 1987 Dragnet film was not the first adaptation of the show. In fact, it’s actually the fifth of seven Dragnet film and television installments after its original appearance on NBC Radio in 1949.

Before the film, there had been two television series, with one in the 1950s, as well as one in the in the 1960s an 70s. On top of that, there were also several feature films with one in the 1950s and a television movie in the 1960s. Even after the 1987 film, there was two more television series in the 1980s, 1990s, and another in the 2000s.

Shared Names

Picture of Alexandra Paul
Amy Graves/WireImage
Amy Graves/WireImage

Towards the end of the film, when Reverend Whirley is being taken away on the airport runway, Joe Friday sees the woman that he loves standing close by. However, for a brief moment, an old four-piston aircraft can be seen in the background behind the actress.

This plane is the Lockheed Constellation, which is otherwise known as a “Connie,” the first name of the character the Virgin Connie Wail in the film played by Alexandra Paul. It’s unknown whether this was on purpose or not.

Albert Brooks Was Offered The Role Of Streebeck

Picture of Albert Brooks
Rob Kim/WireImage
Rob Kim/WireImage

Before Tom Hanks agreed to the role of Joe Friday’s partner, actor Albert Brooks was offered the part. Previously, the comedic actor had worked with Dan Aykroyd a few years earlier in the classic opening sequence in The Twilight Zone: The Movie. Yet, Brooks declined the offer in favor of another 1987 comedy, Broadcast News.

Interestingly, this wouldn’t be the first time that Brooks declined a role only to be taken up by Tom Hanks. Brooks also turned down the opportunity to play the lead in Big, which was a major hit and resulted in his first Best Actor Oscar nomination.

The Movie Almost Had A Different Director

Picture of Kotcheff
Arthur Mola/WireImage
Arthur Mola/WireImage

Although Dragnet is considered to be a more light-hearted film than other police movies, the original director had different intentions. Ted Kotcheff, best known for directing the classic Sylvester Stallone film, Rambo, was originally set to direct the film.

However, Kotcheff ended up on declining the job, as he didn’t like the script that Aykroyd and Zweibel had writtnen. However, this was not because he was against comedy, as helater went on direct iconic comedy films such as Switching Channels and Weekend At Bernie’s.

It Was The Debut Of Director Of Tom Mankiewicz

Picture of director
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage
Albert L. Ortega/WireImage

Although Dan Aykroyd wrote the first draft of the Dragnet script with Alan Zweibel, the studio insisted that they hire other writers for revisions. In this case, the studio brought on Tom Mankiewicz, a well-known writer that had credits in Superman and a few of the James Bond films.

So, when Ted Kotcheff decided to leave as the director of the film, Mankiewicz took control of the project as the director. This would be his first directorial debut at the age of 45.

Issues With The Opening Track

Picture from Dragnet movie
Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

Many fans of the show Dragnet were also very of the opening track, which was prevalent in the TV series. However, when it came to the 1987 movie, the filmmakers decided to do a more contemporary take on the original track.

Instead of the usual band, the film had British electronic band Art of Noise to do the work that had the digital sampling and computer sequencing. Although this was a more modern take on Dragnet, unfortunately, film critics didn’t feel the same.

Harry Morgan Reprised His Role From The Original Series

Picture of Gannon
Universal Studios
Universal Studios

As standard for film or shows that involve police officers, the film Dragnet delivers this character in the form of Captain Bill Gannon, played by Harry Morgan. Something that many people might not have noticed is that he was the only character that appeared in the film as well as the TV series.

Officer Bill Gannon was in 98 episodes of Dragnet as his character between 1967 and 1970, as well as the TV movie The Big Dragnet in 1969.

Andy Griffith Show Featured Real-Life Besties

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

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. Both Andy Griffith and Don Knotts grew up during the Great Depression and lived in poverty.

Griffith was raised in North Carolina where his family was too poor to afford a crib, so he slept in dresser drawers as a baby. Meanwhile, Knotts was raised in West Virginia as one of four boys. His father was a farmer who suffered from schizophrenia.

A Life-Long Bond

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Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

Their friendship began when they met as co-stars in the 1958 film adaptation of the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants—and it lasted for the rest of their lives.

Andy was with Don at his bedside when Don passed away in 2006 due to pulmonary and respiratory complications of pneumonia related to lung cancer. He was 81. Andy died six years later, at the age of 86. He suffered a heart attack at his home in North Carolina.

A Real Jokester

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

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.”

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

If The Shoe Fits

the-andy-griffith-show_OSpXY6-50329
MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

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.

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.

Gone Fishin’ On The Andy Griffith Show

the-andy-griffith-show_95f283-57225
MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

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.

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

the-andy-griffith-show_klTbQd-64572
MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

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.

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

GettyImages-140796252-34440
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images
Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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.

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

Jim Nabors Passes Away

jim-nabors-death-30071-23387
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Jim Nabors, who played the beloved Gomer Pyle, passed away on November 30, 2017. He was 87 years old. His husband Stan Cadwallader was with him at the time. A family friend released the sad news, saying that Nabors died “after battling health issues for some time.”

Nabors had received a liver transplant 20 years before his passing and his health had declined after that. “Everybody knows he was a wonderful man. And that’s all we can say about him. He’s going to be dearly missed,” Cadwallader said in his statement.

Andy Taylor + Helen Crump = Love

love-2-12504
MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

They played a couple on the show. But off set, Andy Griffith and actress Aneta Corsaut are rumored to have been real-life lovers—even though he was married at the time, to his first wife Barbara. Yikes!

Andy ended up getting a divorce in 1972. He went on to marry twice more, to Greek actress Solica Cassuto, and Cindi Knight. Aneta, on the other hand, never married or had any children.

Caught In The Act

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

During one of the cast’s many pranks, a crew member disguised as a waiter went to deliver a dinner to Andy’s hotel room, but he caught Andy and Aneta in a compromising position. Oops!

We’d say that prank went over like a lead balloon. It sounds like The Andy Griffith Show started yet another notable secret relationship in Hollywood in the 60s, which wasn’t all that uncommon at the time, either.

A Prickly Relationship

the-andy-griffith-show_3accd4-1-73634
MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

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.

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

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

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.

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

The Pickle Switch

pickle-switch-89357
CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

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.”

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

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

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 51 years!

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

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

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.

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

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

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.

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.”

Chemistry Sells

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Chemistry Sells
Chemistry Sells

Producers were so impressed by the chemistry between Andy and Don that they wrote up an employment contract on the spot: first for one year, then later for an additional five years.

Griffith was quoted saying, “The second episode was called ‘Manhunt’ and I knew by that episode that Don should be the comic and I should play straight for him. That made all the difference.” The duo went down as one of the best in TV history.

Galaxie: The Car That Kept Changing

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CBS/Andy Griffith Show
CBS/Andy Griffith Show

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.

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

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MovieStillsDB/CBS
MovieStillsDB/CBS

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.

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.

Director Ron Howard

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Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

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!

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.

Frances Bavier Becomes a Resident of North Carolina

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

After The Andy Griffith Show, Frances Bavier opted to stay in North Carolina, versus returning to her native New York City.

Moving to Siler City, North Carolina in 1972, she explained, “I fell in love with North Carolina, all the pretty roads and the trees.”

Mending Rifts

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Hulton Archive/Getty Images
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

In 1998, Andy Griffith said that Frances had called him shortly before her death and that she’d apologized for “being ‘difficult’ during the series’ run.”

She died at age 86, just eight days shy of her 87th birthday due to congestive heart failure, coronary artery disease, and other ailments.

Frances Bavier’s Reclusive Life

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Bettmann/Contributor
Bettmann/Contributor

Frances Bavier retired in 1972 and lived a reclusive life until her death in 1989. She lived alone in a spacious two-story home in Siler City, which she barely left.

The private actress spent the majority of her time in a large back room that was barely furnished, containing only a bed, desk television, and end table stocked with black licorice and her glasses.