The Andy Griffith Show is considered one of America’s best TV series and is utterly deserving of its lofty reputation. Between 1960 and 1968 Sheriff Andy Taylor entertained millions of Americans, and the show’s innocent and warm tone retains a spot in many sitcom lovers’ hearts. But every closet has its skeletons, and behind the series’ wholesome image lie some revealing secrets. Indeed, these 20 facts may make you think twice about planning a trip to Mayberry.
20. Andy Griffith had a ferocious temper
Despite his calm on-screen demeanor, Andy Griffith suffered from a short fuse in real life. At least, during one tantrum, he punched a hole in one of his own house’s walls – something that resulted in extensive bandaging to the offending hand. His injury was explained on screen as the product of a scuffle with the Gordon boys.
19. Griffith also knew how to push his co-star’s buttons…
Like their on-screen counterparts, Griffith and Don Knotts – a.k.a. bumbling deputy Barney Fife – had a firm friendship off set. However, Griffith still loved to tease his co-star. In particular, the actor would repeatedly call Knotts “Jess” – a version of his real first name, Jesse, and a moniker the latter thoroughly loathed.
18. …but he often got a taste of his own medicine
It wasn’t just Knotts who fell foul of Griffith’s antics, though. Indeed, the actor loved to pull pranks on everybody in the show’s cast and crew. As a result of his behavior, however, Griffith himself quickly became the target of on-set hijinks. Once he even had his shoes stolen by his vengeful co-stars, forcing him to walk home in a loaned pair from the wardrobe department.
17. Aunt Bee was hard to please
Though most cast members had easy working relationships, Frances Bavier was a different case entirely. In fact, in contrast to her character Aunt Bee’s easy-going personality, Bavier was impersonal and refused to fraternize with co-stars. She also had a strong aversion to coarse language, which once caused her to hit foul-mouthed Mayberry R.F.D. co-star George Lindsey with an umbrella.
16. Frances Bavier later apologized for her behavior…
By all means, Bavier was a difficult actress to work with, but that doesn’t mean that she wasn’t blind to her own steely nature. Indeed, Griffith – who received the brunt of Bavier’s hostile attitude – once recounted to Larry King that she had called him prior to her 1989 death to apologize for her difficult behavior.
15. …but few paid their final respects to her
And, after her death, few involved with the show paid their respects, while all her co-stars even declined to attend her funeral. Despite her attempts to make amends later in life, then, it seems that Bavier still couldn’t mend the bridges she’d burnt with most of her cast mates.
14. Ron Howard didn’t throw the rock in the opening scene
In perhaps the most memorable opening scene of all time, The Andy Griffith Show famously began with Ron Howard’s Opie throwing a stone into a lake. Nevertheless, the unforgettable shot could only be achieved via some studio trickery. That’s because the then six-year-old Howard couldn’t throw the rock far enough, so a props master pitched a similar volley off screen.
13. Floyd had problems standing
During the show’s third year, Howard McNear – who played town barber Floyd Lawson – suffered a shocking, debilitating stroke. Unable to speak or stand properly, McNear faced an uncertain future. Nonetheless, producers created a bespoke stool that gave the actor the appearance of standing and allowed him to continue in his role until 1967.
12. Don Knotts received bullets in the mail
One of the series’ lasting jokes involved Barney Fife’s inability to safely wield a gun. Instead of carrying a fully loaded weapon, in fact, the deputy had to make do with only a single bullet. Consequently, Knotts’ fans would show their appreciation in one alarming way – namely, by sending the actor bullets in the mail.
11. The show inspired one of Nirvana’s darkest songs
While the show has received countless tributes over the years, none are as macabre as Nirvana’s bewildering track “Floyd the Barber.” Released on the band’s 1989 debut, Bleach, the grunge song sees Kurt Cobain imagining a visit to Floyd’s establishment before being molested and murdered by Andy, Barney and Aunt Bee. Now that’s an episode we don’t want to see.
10. Elinor Donahue asked to be released from her contract because of Andy Griffith
When pharmacist Ellie Walker was introduced in the first season, she was intended as a romantic interest for Andy Taylor. However, actress Elinor Donahue asked to be released from her contract after just one year because of her and Griffith’s lack of chemistry. Later, Griffith additionally admitted that he struggled to show any affection for Donahue on screen.
9. Griffith got a little too close to one of his co-stars
Though Griffith had difficulty showing Donahue affection, the actor had less trouble with his last love interest, Aneta Corsaut. According to some, Griffith – then married to Barbara Edwards – had a passionate affair with the Helen Crump actress. In fact, one unfortunate crew member apparently caught the two in the act after delivering food to Griffith’s hotel room.
8. Andy’s deceased wife is hardly ever mentioned
Many women may have walked through Andy Taylor’s life, but one important person was hardly mentioned on screen. Specifically, the sheriff’s deceased wife – and Opie’s mother – was barely discussed throughout the series. Indeed, important facts like her name and how she died were never even brought up.
7. Floyd rarely replaced his calendars
Like most series of its era, The Andy Griffith Show suffered from noticeable continuity errors. One notable example can be found in Floyd’s barbershop, which features a calendar permanently turned to February. And while it’s possible that Mayberry was stuck in Groundhog Day, we’ll wager instead that someone forgot to dress the set properly.
6. The show employed victims of the Hollywood Blacklist
During The Andy Griffith Show’s initial run, America was in the midst of the Red Scare that restricted supposed Communist sympathizers’ ability to work on home soil. In defiance of the status quo, though, the series hired director Coby Ruskin, a victim of the Hollywood Blacklist. This was his first work in the U.S. after a temporary exile to the U.K.
5. Don Knotts left because Andy Griffith told him the show would only last five years…
Upon joining the series in 1960, Don Knotts was told by Griffith that he only intended on making the show for five years. And although the series’ success caused Griffith to change his mind, Knotts still believed that the show was finished after season five and so began looking for work. Thus, he jumped ship from CBS to Universal in 1965.
4. …but Knotts finally fought for a stake in the show
Prior to beginning a lucrative film career, Knotts made one last offer to stay on the show. Specifically, in the middle of season five, Knotts told Griffith that he would stick around in exchange for shares in the program. But Griffith – who owned 50 percent of the series’ rights – refused the offer, and Barney left Mayberry empty-handed.
3. Griffith once sued a man who shared the same name
Following its end in 1968, The Andy Griffith Show became a beloved part of pop culture. In fact, a 2006 candidate for a Wisconsin Sheriff’s office even changed his name to Andy Griffith to capitalize on the show’s reputation. His plans ultimately fell apart, however, when the real Griffith sued over a violation of trademark and invasion of privacy.
2. Griffith and Knotts were firm friends until the bitter end
Despite quarreling over the ownership of shares, Griffith and Knotts remained good friends throughout their lives. And before Knotts passed away from cancer in 2006, his co-star was there to ease him through his final moments. However, even as he lay dying, Griffith still cheekily referred to his friend as Jess!
1. Griffith’s family spared no time in planning his funeral
Six years after Knotts’ death, Griffith himself would depart this mortal coil after suffering a heart attack in 2012. In a peculiar twist, though, he was buried within five hours of being pronounced dead. That’s because, owing to his notability in Hollywood, his quick burial helped avoid unwanted paparazzi intrusion on his mourning family.
And The Andy Griffith Show isn’t the only well-loved ’60s sitcom with its fair share of secrets. Traveling back to the decade, you may remember the rags-to-riches tale of the The Beverly Hillbillies‘s ramshackle family that was busy dominating screens. From backstage dramas to not one but two lawsuits, here are 20 things you didn’t know about the classic show.
20. Buddy and Nancy didn’t hit it off in real life
It’s fair to say that Buddy Ebsen (Jed Clampett) and Nancy Kulp (Miss Jane Hathaway) didn’t exactly hit it off. In fact, the two stars continually fought over politics during the show’s filming. And Ebsen even actively campaigned against Democrat Kulp when she unsuccessfully ran for Congress in the state of Pennsylvania.
19. CBS forgot to renew the copyrights of the first two seasons
Ever wondered why the show’s first couple of seasons are regularly run on various low-budget TV channels? Well, that’s because although network CBS bought the series’ rights following its cancelation in 1971, it failed to renew the copyrights for its first 55 episodes. And this then allowed them to enter the public domain.
18. The show’s creator found the 1981 TV movie cringeworthy
Ten years after its cancelation, the surviving members of the Clampett family reunited for a 1981 TV movie. But it lacked several key actors and had a different setting, and ultimately the unfamiliar set-up failed to connect with viewers. In fact, even the show’s creator later admitted that he was embarrassed by the whole affair.
17. Ebsen demanded his part be redrafted
Buddy Ebsen may have been happy enough to portray Jed Clampett as unschooled and largely illiterate, but he drew the line at the character being portrayed as a complete moron. In fact, the actor initially refused to take the part unless the writers gave Jed a little respect.
16. Max Baer Jr. played his twin sister
The half-witted Jethro Bodine wasn’t the only character that Max Baer Jr. played on the show. The last living star of the original cast also went full drag to portray Jethro’s twin sister Jethrine for 11 episodes of the first season.
15. But Henning’s daughter provided the voice
However, the voice of Jethrine Bodine belonged to someone else entirely: that of Linda Kaye Henning. She was the daughter of the show’s creator, Paul Henning, and she also appeared in nearly every single episode of her father’s second hit sitcom, Petticoat Junction.
14. The show was originally set in New York
As the name implies, the characters in The Beverly Hillbillies up sticks to a swanky mansion in the state of California after coming into money. However, producers initially intended for the family to move to New York, before financial constraints forced them to look elsewhere.
13. Louis Nye was only eight years younger than his on-screen mother
As is often the case in Hollywood when it comes to casting parents and children, the actress who played Mrs. Drysdale wouldn’t have been old enough to be Sonny’s mother in real life. In fact, Harriet E. MacGibbon was just eight years older than her on-screen son, played by Louis Nye.
12. Bea Benaderet was the first choice to play Granny
Bea Benaderet appeared throughout the first season as Jethro’s middle-aged mother Pearl Bodine. But she was, in fact, first lined up to play the character of Granny. After realizing that her look wasn’t appropriate for the character, however, she recommended Irene Ryan for the part instead.
11. CBS axed the show even though it was still popular
Although ratings had fallen from its early ’60s heyday, The Beverly Hillbillies was still pulling in respectable numbers when it was abruptly canceled in 1971. The show was given the axe alongside Henning’s other hit, Petticoat Junction, and several other rural-themed comedies. And the reason? The advertisers wanted to target a more cultured, metropolitan kind of viewer.
10. The owner of the show’s villa died before the first episode aired
Producers arranged to pay Arnold Kirkeby $500 a day to shoot the show at his Bel Air villa for the first season. Unfortunately, though, Kirkeby never got to see his impressive home on screen – he perished in a plane crash less than a year before the show premiered.
9. Kirkeby’s widow broke contract with the studio
Widow Mrs. Kirkeby later made things difficult when she reportedly broke the contract her husband had made with the show’s production company by revealing the mansion’s address. Fans subsequently began to swarm the residence in the hope of seeing their favorite character, and Filmways Productions actually had to stop filming outside scenes at the home.
8. Elly May was robbed of a wedding
The advance publicity for The Beverly Hillbillies’ final season suggested that Elly May would end up hitched to the man that Granny believed was part-frog, Mark Templeton. However, their romance was suddenly axed after just nine episodes and, with the show canceled shortly after, the character missed out on a fairytale ending.
7. John Wayne received bourbon, not money, for his appearance
It seems as though John Wayne made his guest appearance on the fifth season of The Beverly Hillbillies for love, not money. The Western movie legend reportedly only asked for a fifth of bourbon as payment for his brief cameo in the now politically incorrect episode, “The Indians Are Coming.”
6. Max Baer Jr. sued CBS
CBS was sued by one of its former stars when Max Baer Jr. accused them of using his Hillbilly character’s name without his knowledge and for financial gain. The star alleged that the network failed to tell him about their affiliation with the Jethro’s restaurant chain, and that the two parties worked out a clandestine compromise instead.
5. Donna Douglas sued Mattel
And Baer Jr. wasn’t the only cast member to file a lawsuit against a company in relation to their Beverly Hillbillies character. Donna Douglas sued Mattel after they produced an Elly May Clampett Barbie doll and used one of the actress’ photographs on the box without her consent.
4. Critics weren’t fans
“Strained and unfunny,” published The New York Times. “Painful to sit through,” wrote Variety. “The lowest form of humor,” declared Time. And so although The Beverly Hillbillies may have been a runaway ratings hit, critics hated it. These were just some of the scathing criticisms the show regularly faced from the national press during its nine-season run.
3. It originally had a completely different title
Viewers of the pilot, “The Clampetts Strike Oil,” would have sat down to watch a show called The Hillbillies of Beverly Hills. Thankfully, however, producers soon decided on something a little less tongue-twisty, and by the second episode it had been revised to the now familiar The Beverly Hillbillies.
2. It also had a different theme song
“The Ballad of Jed Clampett” was so popular that when it was released as a single it spent three weeks at the top of the Billboard country chart, as well as reaching No.44 on the Hot 100. However, a song named “Banjo Signal” was used as the theme tune for the pilot episode.
1. The show was inspired by the Civil War
The Beverly Hillbillies had an unlikely source of inspiration: various Civil War locations. Yes, Henning had a brainwave on a trip through the rural South in the late ’50s. It was then that he began to wonder how someone from the area in the Civil War era would cope with life in a more modern, urban setting. And so The Beverley Hillbillies was born.
Even though the ’60s undoubtedly produced some TV gold, you may well be more of a fan of what came out of the ’70s. Take the groundbreaking sitcom All in the Family, for instance, which caught people’s attention by tackling themes that were previously seen as taboo for U.S. prime-time comedy. Interestingly, though, the show was just as enthralling behind the scenes. So, here are 20 things you may not know about this all-time classic TV series.
20. Carroll O’Connor wasn’t the first choice to play Archie
Carroll O’Connor undoubtedly made the Archie role his own, but he wasn’t producers’ first choice. In fact, Mickey Rooney was originally offered the part but turned it down over fears about its chances of success and its controversial nature. Scott Brady also said no, but later played Joe Foley for four episodes, instead.
19. O’Connor wanted flight money before accepting the role
Based in Italy at the time, O’Connor also took some persuading to accept the role. The actor wanted reassurance his flight home would be paid for if All in the Family stalled at the pilot stage. But as we all now know, producers never needed to take out their wallets.
18. Sally Struthers sued the show’s producers
Frustrated with her character’s lack of development, Sally Struthers took drastic measures. The actress, who played Gloria Bunker, sued producers in 1974 to break free from her contract. The tactic worked and Struthers was given more to do, keeping her on the show for a total of 157 episodes.
17. Lear once threatened to kill Archie off
Struthers wasn’t the only major cast member to threaten producers with a lawsuit. Carroll O’Connor himself missed five episodes in 1974 following a contract dispute with Norman Lear. The pair eventually managed to settle their differences, but not before Lear claimed he was ready to kill off O’Connor’s lead character.
16. O’Connor also sued Lear over a spin-off
And the lawsuits don’t end there. All in the Family produced a staggering seven spin-off series including Maude, Good Times, 704 Hauser and The Jeffersons. Despite not actually appearing on the latter, O’Connor unsuccessfully tried to sue Lear for some of its profits.
15. Isabel Sanford was coerced into doing The Jeffersons
The Jeffersons also caused behind-the-scenes tensions elsewhere. Isabel Sanford, a.k.a Louise Hemsley, initially didn’t want to make the leap to the spin-off. But after producers told her they would write her character out of All in the Family and recast her in The Jeffersons, she soon changed her mind.
14. Two “Archieisms” were derived from Lear’s real family
Creator Lear used his own family experiences as the basis for much of the show. Indeed, two of Archie’s most famous quips were first uttered by Lear’s parents. His father would often tell his mother to “stifle herself.” She would then retaliate with, “you are the laziest white man I ever saw.”
13. The show underwent several name changes
The pilot’s original cast wasn’t the only thing that changed from the finished product. All in the Family was initially known as Justice for All when it was first picked up by ABC. The network then shot a second pilot entitled Those Were the Days.
12. A flop comedy caused ABC to pass on the show
Back in 1969, Turn-On became one of those notorious shows to be withdrawn from schedules after just one episode due to numerous viewer complaints. The negative publicity caused ABC to think twice about screening All in the Family, another potentially controversial show. Instead, the chauvinistic and foul-mouthed lead character known as Archie Bunker eventually found a home on CBS.
11. The show’s piano song intro was a money-saving measure
One of the most memorable things about All in the Family was its musical intro. Here, O’Carroll and Jean Stapleton sat around a piano singing “Those Were the Days” in front of camera. But Lear admits the show only started that way because the budget couldn’t stretch to something more elaborate.
10. O’Connor received royalties for the closing theme
O’Connor also played a part in All in the Family’s closing theme tune, and one which proved to be surprisingly lucrative. The actor received royalties and a co-writer credit for the song “Remembering You.” This was despite the fact the lyrics he penned never ended up being used on the show!
9. Nixon mentioned the show in the Watergate tapes
All in the Family inadvertently became part of U.S. political history when it was referenced in a major scandal. Then-POTUS Richard Nixon was heard discussing the comedy in one of the Watergate tapes that sparked his downfall. He specifically mentioned the 1971 episodes “Judging Books by Covers” and “Writing the President.”
8. It aired because of the Rural Purge
Archie Bunker only made it to air when the new CBS President decided he wanted more socially-relevant programming. Attempting to attract younger viewers, Robert Wood axed several comedies including Petticoat Junction and Green Acres to make way for shows like All in the Family. This became known as the Rural Purge.
7. The famous attempted rape scene was intended for another show
One of the show’s biggest controversies occurred when Edith was forced to fight off a potential rapist just before her 50th birthday party. But, in fact, the scene was originally written for One Day at a Time‘s Ann Romano (played by Bonnie Franklin). It was later used by the New York City Police Department to show rape from the perspective of the victim.
6. Rob Reiner wore a hairpiece
Although he was only in his 20s at the time, Rob Reiner wore a hairpiece from his first season on the show. In fact, the actor/director, who played Michael Stivic, had started balding from a young age. He was also asked by producers to grow a mustache to make his character look older.
5. CBS expected a huge viewer backlash that never came
CBS initially expected that All in the Family’s provocative subject matter and politically-incorrect lead character would spark a huge viewer backlash. It even recruited dozens more phone operators to deal with the anticipated complaints. However, instead of getting offended, the majority of the audience instantly took the show to their hearts.
4. But it did receive complaints about the theme tune
In fact, the only thing that viewers did appear to get riled about was the show’s theme. CBS received numerous calls asking what the unintelligible penultimate line of the song was. The network subsequently re-recorded the tune in which the offending line, “Gee, our old LaSalle ran great,” was enunciated clearer.
3. It was hated by two comedy icons
Of course, not everyone was so enamored with All in the Family. Lucille Ball reportedly hated the fact she was forced to share a network with such an “un-American show.” Another celebrity detractor came in the shape of Bill Cosby, who believed it trivialized racism and promoted bigotry.
2. O’Connor wanted a ’90s revival
O’Connor wanted to extend All in the Family’s legacy in the early ’90s with a brand new series. The show would focus on Archie’s full-time cab driver job and his topical conversations with passengers. However, Lear was left unconvinced and instead decided to focus on developing 1994’s 704 Hauser.
1. One of its actors quit the show due to boredom
The Bunkers’ far more liberal next-door neighbors Frank and Irene Lorenzo were intended to be long-running characters. But while Betty Garrett played the latter until 1975, Vincent Gardenia only appeared as the former for one season. The actor quit the show in its infancy due to finding his character boring.