‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Young Andy Playing it Cool Helped the Show Reach Its Full Potential

by Joe Rutland

When it comes to having silence be golden, Andy Griffith knew all about that leading up and beyond the creation of his classic TV show. Griffith was really being pressed by Sheldon Leonard, known both as an actor and producer, to do a show. It would become The Andy Griffith Show but the idea happened to be a tough sell.

Leonard worked with Danny Thomas, who had his own production company. Thomas, in the 1950s and 1960s, would have a popular sitcom titled Make Room for Daddy. Leonard worked closely with Thomas and they thought there was a show possibility with Griffith.

But the meetings Leonard had with Griffith, according to MeTV, would go from one place to the next one. They would meet first at a coffee shop in New York City before fancier places were used. In an interview, Leonard said, “I told him the idea we had, which was to make him sheriff of a small town.” Griffith did listen to Leonard’s sales job but didn’t open up right away. He remained cool and just listened.

Andy Griffith Of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Listened Closely To Sheldon Leonard

Listening would play a role in the show itself, but we’ll get to that in a minute. The meetings between Griffith and Leonard were filled with the producer talking. Once Griffith heard enough, he reportedly started asking serious questions. The actor wanted to know how the show was being financed. Griffith had other concerns and aired them. This was done before any contracts were signed. After three meetings, a deal was reached for him to star as Sheriff Andy Taylor.

Yet how would Taylor be introduced to TV viewers? Remember we mentioned Make Room for Daddy? It aired on both ABC and CBS. By the time Griffith was on board for his show, Thomas, who played entertainer Danny Williams, was already over on CBS. Taylor is a small-town sheriff who happens to put Williams in jail for running a stop sign through the city. This led to Griffith’s introduction as Taylor. It also would be a sweet way for CBS to simply get ready for the new sitcom.

By the way, reportedly, Griffith had a way of communicating his pleasure or displeasure with actors. George Lindsey, who played Goober on there, offered this inside look. If Griffith liked the work, then he called up the actor and let one know. Not happy? Well, there was that silence yet again. Over the years, interviews and books have revealed that Griffith was very involved in the show’s scripts. He would write notes and let his feelings be known. Quite a shift from being quiet and listening, yet Griffith apparently could pick and choose his spots.