‘The Andy Griffith Show’: One Star’s Career Started Due To Griffith Not Remembering Him

by Joe Rutland
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(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

If you have watched The Andy Griffith Show for any length of time, then you remember Howard Sprague, played by Jack Dodson. You know that a number of different characters go through Mayberry. Yet there’s an interesting backstory to how Dodson got his role and it’s because the star could not remember his name. Andy Griffith would go out and search for different actors by seeing them perform in clubs. But a play he attended would be the thing that led him to Dodson.

Andy Griffith Made Sure Jack Dodson Had A Part On Show

Yet he could not remember his name. Talk about being at the right place at the right time. Jack Dodson was and it was in a play titled “Hughie.” And he happened to be in that play with award-winning actor Jason Robards. Talk about an acting windfall!

Anyway, Griffith showed up for a performance. As the story goes, Dodson shook Andy Griffith’s hand and told his agent about the good words that the sheriff of Mayberry had passed along. We get more about this from MeTV. It did not take the agent for Jack Dodson long to start moving things along after this meeting.

Well, the agent put a call into the producers of the CBS sitcom and wanted to see if a guest role could be lined up. We lean into an interview Dodson gave to The Palm Beach Post back in 1978 for more details. Show producers didn’t think much about it. Why? Andy Griffith could not remember the name of Jack Dodson. It’s that simple. But the story takes another twist.

Show’s Star Created Howard Sprague Role For Dodson

Producers did ask Griffith about Dodson but he didn’t remember. Word got back to the agent and then Dodson. So, the actor kept moving along in life. Not so fast there, Jack. Here’s the part where things change real quick. Later on, Andy Griffith talked with a friend about seeing “Hughie.” This friend knew the stars’ names and said, “You mean Jason Robards and Jack Dodson?”

Well, Andy Griffith heard Jack’s name and looked like he’d made a mistake. He did but this is where the story picks up. Apparently, Andy did remember once he heard the name of Jack Dodson. The star made things happen quickly. Do you know who created Howard Sprague for The Andy Griffith Show? Andy himself. It turns out that once he got the role, Jack Dodson never had a problem getting TV work in his career.

Dodson only appeared in the color episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Now, his role did continue into the spinoff titled Mayberry R.F.D. that starred Ken Berry.

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