How Andy Griffith Earned This Little-Known Nickname Early in His Career

by Joe Rutland

Before success on his classic TV show, Andy Griffith did make a name for himself as a recording artist and movie star. Yet he also was known by a different name. Say what? OK, well his actual name was still being used but he had a nickname. There’s also a little religious tone for this nickname as well. If you picked up an album from him at one point, then you’d see his work as “Deacon Andy Griffith.”

Andy Griffith Records Would Have Him Wearing ‘Deacon’ Moniker

Yep. Call him Deacon Andy. Well, that happens to be a character Griffith played through monologues. One of the most famous ones is titled What It Was, Was Football. This monologue features Griffith in Deacon Andy mode talking about the first time he sees a football game. The way that Griffith describes it all remains incredibly funny nearly 70 years after it was released in 1953.

Would you believe that reached the No. 9 spot on Billboard’s charts in 1954? It sure did. Griffith also did a double-sided single titled “Romeo and Juliet” again credited to Deacon Andy Griffith. Newspapers picked up the nickname and would use it when talking about his records. Even when taking on a serious role as in the movie A Face in the Crowd, one reviewer talked about “Deacon Andy Griffith” in the starring role. Sheesh. It takes until the classic TV sitcom for Griffith to be recognized only by his name. We get more from MeTV.

Switching Places For Comedy Would Help ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Maybe we should move ahead to some reflections about The Andy Griffith Show. It would run for eight seasons on CBS and make a household name out of Griffith. Besides being the show’s lead actor, he also had a hand in how the scripts were put together. It was important to him that they be done right.

One of the early changes in the tenor and tempo of the sitcom goes to Griffith himself. It shows that he cared about the bigger picture, not just his part. If you remember the show’s first season, then you’ll notice Andy going for the jokes a lot. This is pretty noticeable when Griffith, as Sheriff Andy Taylor, works with Don Knotts, who plays Deputy Barney Fife. The back-and-forth between them was great, but something didn’t fit. Griffith could see that it was better for Knotts to have the comedy lines instead of him.

So, the switch is made where Andy plays more of a straight man role opposite Barney’s funny quips and mannerisms. After all, what is a guy with only one bullet on him to do while protecting Mayberry from crime?