'The Andy Griffith Show'
For eight seasons CBS ran this classic comedy series, beloved by viewers for its portrayal of American small-town life. Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), his son Opie (Ron Howard), deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and spinster Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) brought sleepy Mayberry, North Carolina to life, in the tradition of 1960s family sitcoms.
It was a smash hit, to say the least.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ ran from 1960-1968. The show was so popular that it spawned a spin-off series, 'Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.' (1964), a sequel series, 'Mayberry R.F.D.' (1968), and a reunion television movie, 'Return to Mayberry' (1986).
Let’s take a look back now on the residents of Mayberry.
Andy Griffith: Then
A starring role in 1957 film ‘A Face in the Crowd’ launched Griffith’s television career, leading to his very own show.
His wholesome, folksy Sheriff Andy Taylor, always ready with sage advice for his only son Opie, calming words for his excitable deputy Barney, and a kiss on the cheek for his Aunt Bee, made Griffith one of the most popular television characters ever.
Andy Griffith: 1926-2012
After ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ the actor starred in the show ‘The Yeagers,’ and had another bona fide hit in legal series ‘Matlock.’
Griffith also acted in smaller roles in numerous television series and films, from ‘The Mod Squad’ to ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ He received a Primetime Emmy Award for his role in the TV movie ‘Murder in Texas’ (1981).
In addition to his acting career, Griffith was successful in music: He won a Grammy for his album of Christian hymns, ‘I Love To Tell the Story’ and was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Griffith was even awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.
Griffith passed away on July 3, 2012 at the age of 86.
Frances Bavier: Then
Bavier entertained U.S. troops with the USO during World War II. Bavier got her start on Broadway, then parlayed her theater experience into roles in the 1951 film ‘The Day the Earth Stood Still,’ the series ‘It’s a Great Life,’ and her most memorable turn, that of affable spinster Aunt Bee.
Frances Bavier: 1902-1989
Her role as Aunt Bee continued on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ spin-off, ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’
In 1972 Bavier retired to North Carolina, though she appeared onscreen once more in the 1974 family film ‘Benji.’ She passed away in 1989.
Ron Howard: Then
Little Ronny Howard made his acting debut in ‘The Music Man’ in 1963, followed by various guest spots, and then his memorable stint as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s adorable son Opie.
Ron Howard: Now
Howard, 58, has remained in the public eye since his days playing Opie. After ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Howard appeared in the 1973 film ‘American Graffiti,’ then scored another hit television role: that of ‘Happy Days’’ Richie Cunningham, which he played from 1974-1980.
After retiring from acting, Howard turned his attention to directing, helming acclaimed films such as ‘Splash,’ ‘Willow,’ ‘Apollo 13 (which won two Oscars), ‘A Beautiful Mind’ (for which he won an Oscar for Best Director) and ‘Frost/Nixon.’
Howard told Vanity Fair magazine his greatest achievement is “Forty-eight consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life.”
Howard resides in Connecticut with his wife, with whom he has four children and one grandchild. Daughters Bryce and Paige are also actors.
Don Knotts: Then
Comedic actor Knotts got his start performing various acts, including ventriloquism. He took on the role of Sheriff Andy’s cousin Barney Fife and went on to win five Emmy Awards for his portrayal of the bumbling deputy.
Don Knotts: 1924-2006
After ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Knotts kept drawing on his high-strung Barney Fife persona for roles in series like ‘It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World,’ then playing goofy landlord Ralph Furley on 80s sitcom ‘Three’s Company,’ among other TV work.
In his later years, Knotts did voice work in cartoons like "Scooby-Doo," "Robot Chicken" and the 2005 Disney vehicle "Chicken Little." Knotts appeared in cameos on "8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter" and "That 70s Show."
Knotts was recognized in 2000 with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The esteemed comic was married to his third wife at the time of his death to lung cancer, and was survived by two children.
Jim Nabors: Then
Cast as dim-witted gas station attendant Gomer Pyle, Nabors’ character was based on a skit he performed in Hollywood clubs. Prior to ‘The Andy Griffth Show,’ Nabors had been a film cutter for NBC. Gomer Pyle’s popularity boosted Nabors to Hollywood fame.
Jim Nabors: Now
After ‘Andy Griffith,’ the Alabama native got his own spin-off, ‘Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.’ Childrens’ and comedy roles followed. Nabors hosted ‘The Jim Nabors Show’ from 1978-1979. At the request of his pal Burt Reynolds, Nabors starred in ‘The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,’ ‘Stroker Ace,’ and ‘Cannonball Run II.”
1991 saw Nabors receive a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
In 1994 Nabors survived a liver transplant after battling hepatitis B. He never married, and settled in Hawaii in 1976, reportedly owning a nut plantation for 25 years. Nabors is now 79.
George Lindsey: Then
Though Lindsey was cast as affable hick Goober Pyle, he had a bachelors degree in bioscience! The Alabama native was a science teacher before he was an actor. His character was originally “Goober Beasley,” but the name quickly changed to match with his cousin, Gomer Pyle.
George Lindsey: 1928-2012
After the show, Lindsey is rumored to have turned down the role of Star Trek’s Doctor Spock! The actor primarily played variations of his ‘Andy Griffith Show’ kindly, dim-witted role. He reprised his Goober for ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ spin-off, ‘Mayberry R.F.D.’, and ‘Hee Haw.’ He was also active in the Alabama Special Olympics and released his autobiography, ‘Goober in a Nutshell,’ in 1995.
Lindsey passed away on May 6, 2012 after a brief illness.
Aneta Corsaut: Then
The Kansas native made her debut (alongside Steve McQueen) in the 1958 horror cult flick ‘The Blob.’ She appeared in numerous TV shows, was best-known for playing Sheriff Andy’s love interest, schoolteacher Helen Crump. Helen and Andy began as friends, and eventually married on the show.
Aneta Corsaut: 1933-1995
After "The Andy Griffth Show," Corsaut landed a supporting role on the sitcom "House Calls" and appeared on "Matlock" and "General Hospital."
Corsaut died of cancer at the age of 62.
Hoo hoo hoo, whee hoo hoo hoo, whee hoo hoo hoo... (Sorry, just whistling the theme song...)