There’s no doubt that Andy Griffith of the classic TV show The Andy Griffith Show was a true star through and through. But even he knew that in order to make his show work, there needed to be more than him on board. The actor had worked enough in show business to have quite a resume’ built up. Still, being the star of your own show definitely puts a lot of pressure on you. Griffith had a hit show, but he would offer an interesting insight into who should get credit for it.
“In the pilot, it was Danny, it was on Danny’s show [The Danny Thomas Show], it was a spinoff,” Griffith said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “Frances Bavier and Ronny Howard and me were the only regulars. Don Knotts saw that on the air, the pilot, and called me down here. And I said I didn’t know you were out of work. He said yes, Steve [Allen] was canceled. I said, ‘Call Sheldon [Leonard].’
“And that’s what made the show a hit was Don,” Griffith said. “Because that’s what I didn’t like about the show. They had me as sheriff, justice of the peace, [the] editor of the paper, and I’d tell little funny stories about people around town. That would have lasted maybe two weeks. Yeah, I didn’t like that about the concept.”
Andy Griffith of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Changed How Taylor Appeared
Knotts, of course, played Deputy Barney Fife and provided viewers of The Andy Griffith Show with lots of laughs. As Griffith talks about those early episodes in this clip, his Andy Taylor character would go through some changes. Sure, Taylor held all those positions but he was looked to be the comedian. There was enough to go around as far as laughs were concerned.
Funny, though, once Griffith got an idea about how Knotts was portraying Fife, he tweaked how Andy appeared. The funny lines still were with Andy but not as much. Toss in the comedy lines that writers gave Knotts with some physical humor and it all adds up. Bavier and Howard had their scenes, too, and seeing Andy and Opie talk about things still does bring a smile to viewers.
Back to Knotts for a minute. He played Fife for five seasons before leaving and making movies. Knotts had an idea that Griffith was going to end the show after the first five seasons. Well, the lead actor decided to do a couple of more seasons (actually three). It did disappoint Knotts to realize Griffith was moving forward. The funny actor-comedian had made his plans to work with Universal Pictures. Knotts would come back for occasional guest-starring roles.