Andy Griffith Said He Was Desperate for Success Before Launching Hit Show

by Clayton Edwards

Television fans across the country still love The Andy Griffith Show. It allows us to escape from our real-life issues and take a trip to Small Town, America. Let’s face it, if more towns were like Mayberry, the world would be a better place. More than an escape to an idyllic town, though, TAGS serves as a trip to a simpler time. For some, it’s a way to transport back to the time in which the show takes place. Others conjure up old memories and feelings of nostalgia while watching the classic show. It’s one of those series that most of us can be grateful for. However, no one was more thankful to see it take off than its namesake star.

Andy Griffith had a career before the show. He was a comedian and worked on Broadway. However, he never saw the kind of success we know him for until the show premiered in 1960. He talked a little about the weeks leading up to the show and its success with Emmy TV Legends before his tragic passing in 2012.

Andy Griffith recalled that before starting his show, he was starring in Destry Rides Again on Broadway. “Destry, everybody knows the story, so there’s nowhere to go with that. The songs were mundane at most. The dancing is what kept that play open. It ran for a season and a month.” It didn’t end well. “The actors said they were locked out. The producers said they were on strike,” Griffith recalled.

Andy Griffith went on to say that no one took the stage for the final days of the play. “All the actors showed up at the stage door and signed in every night, then went to have an equity meeting. That lasted ten days,” he recalled. Then, they found a message posted on the door stating that Destry was closing.

Andy Griffith Moves on to Success in TV

Andy Griffith looked back at the end of Destry with gratitude. “Thank God they [ended the play’s run] because I started the Griffith show three weeks later.”

That’s when Andy Griffith went to speak to talent agent Abe Lastfogel and said, “Mr. Lastfogel, I’ve struck out in movies and now in Broadway. I don’t want to go back to nightclubs. So, maybe I better try television.”

After that, Sheldon Leonard approached Andy Griffith with “a notion,” for a series. Andy didn’t care for Leonard’s notion. However, he immediately liked the producer. So, they met several times. Not long after that, they started working on the concept that would become The Andy Griffith Show.

Today, we know Andy Griffith as one of television’s brightest stars. However, he only migrated to TV when he was desperate. That just goes to show that, sometimes, the key to success is right outside our comfort zone.