‘Matlock’: Why Andy Griffith Fought For Betty Lynn to Appear on Show

by Madison Miller
Photo by: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic, Inc

Oftentimes in the entertainment world, co-stars quickly become friends. Then it only makes them want to star in even more roles together in the future. This is what happened with Andy Griffith and Betty Lynn on “Matlock.”

Betty Lynn on ‘Matlock’

The show is a mystery legal drama starring Griffith as criminal defense attorney Ben Matlock. It aired from 1986 to 1992 on NBC and then from 1992 to 1995 on ABC. Several well-known names like Lori Lethin, Alice Hirson, Linda Purl, and Nancy Stafford appeared in the popular TV series.

As for Betty Lynn, her role on the show is mostly thanks to Andy Griffith. The two were former co-stars, seeing as Lynn played Thelma Lou on “The Andy Griffith Show.” She was the girlfriend of the hilarious Barney Fife.

During the first season of “Matlock,” Griffith suggested to producers that his old Mayberry friend drop by for a visit on his new show. He thought that she would make an exceptional secretary for Ben and the two already had experience on the screen together.

She played Sarah on the show, but not for very long. She appeared as the secretary for a total of four episodes. So, what happened next?

During an interview with The Alternative Press in 1986, Lynn opened up about playing a role on “Matlock.” She said Andy Griffith wrote a few little and funny scenes for her here and there. Eventually, she wanted more out of her experience. She asked for more lines and even tried to have Griffith help her out.

No one was really willing to listen to her complaints.

“They let me go as soon as they could. I was upset with him because he wouldn’t listen,” she said at the time. She appeared for the last time in the episode titled “Santa Claus.”

Working together on the show ended up creating a huge divide between two people who were once friends. Lynn didn’t speak to the “Matlock” star for 20 years. They forgave each other after Griffith one day called her out of the blue asking for advice, according to MeTV.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Co-Stars Appear on ‘Matlock’

As it turns out, Betty Lynn was far from the only “The Andy Griffith Show” actor to appear on “Matlock.”

“Matlock” was Andy Griffith’s second-most popular show. Despite being an entirely different universe, Griffith couldn’t help but invite some of his Mayberry friends.

Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen Crump, was a judge for a few episodes of the show. The most popular and recognizable, however, was Don Knotts. He played the next-door neighbor, Les Calhoun. While Griffith was ecstatic about working with his old co-stars, producers had to slow it down a little.

“Joel Steiger, who was taking over day-to-day business on Matlock, watched the creeping ‘Mayberry-ization’ with growing unease. Andy seemed intent on re-creating his greatest television success on Matlock, even if it imperiled the success of his comeback,” Daniel de Visé noted in “Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.”