‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Elinor Donahue Talked Getting Cast in the Show

by Chase Thomas

There were a number of stars that passed through the all-time hit The Andy Griffith Show during its huge run in the 1960s. One of those was star actor Elinor Donahue, who spoke about getting the role and her reason for leaving so suddenly.

Interestingly enough, Donahue revealed she never read for her part on the show for the first season. All she knew, as she tells it is that she was going to be on the show. That much was sure. She played a “lady druggist” in the town for 11 episodes in total.

“I had a three-year contract,” Donahue said. This is important to note as she was only on the show for eleven episodes in the first season. From her words, Donahue asked to be let out of her contract early on in her run. It was a tough time in her life personally she said, and she was very tired. The timing was not great and she did not feel as though she was doing her best kind of work.

Funny enough, when the show OK’d her exit, she hoped they would have denied it and had her stay on because she says she would have done so. Perhaps because that meant they saw long-term value in her work on the program.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Back Then

Part of what Andy Griffith was so endearing was how close the viewers felt to the characters on the show. They all became hooked on each individual figure in the small, little town of Mayberry. Each character had a role and unique trait that brought the town together in their own, often hilarious, way.

This was the plan, though, as Andy Griffith told the New York Times. He said, “I think it is because we–everyone on the show–have a real sense of community, of kindness toward one another.” The cast and crew got along and treated each other as if they were their own family which went a long way, as you can see from the years and enduring success of the show.

Griffith continued, “The basic rule by which we live comes through on the program, kindness comes through. The show also has a number of featured performers, each with a definite character we can write around for any episode. But equally important is the character of Mayberry itself. We try to make it a real little community with its small problems and those of its people put forth comedically.”

Kindness was everything. And you could see it when you watched every new episode of The Andy Griffith Show over the years. It was the perfect combination of the right setting, the right cast of characters and the right performers to make it all work.