‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Real-Life Barber Who Inspired Floyd Outlived Most of Mayberry

by Craig Garrett
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The Andy Griffith Show was filled with colorful characters, but the inspiration Floyd the barber gave shaves long after Mayberry was gone. The town of Mayberry is perhaps one of the most famous of classic tv. Many believe that the fictional rural town is inspired by the place Griffith grew up, Mount Airy. Indeed, the North Carolina town does share a lot in common with Mayberry. Snappy Lunch, an actual Mount Airy institution, was mentioned on the show. However, in later years Griffith claimed to never eat pork chop sandwiches there.

Directly next to Snappy’s is Floyd’s Barber Shop. Admittedly, this is an instance of life imitating art, as the shop was re-named after the famous character from The Andy Griffith Show. Still, a barber cut hair there for many years which was the inspiration for the Floyd character. Russell Hiatt cut hair and gave shaves at the shop for seven decades. He claimed to have cut Griffith’s hair before his famous show.

The Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968. Hiatt cut hair until 2014

Floyd the barber is a popular character in Mayberry. The part was famously played by Howard McNear for 7 seasons. McNear passed away in 1969 after suffering a series of strokes that greatly limited his ability to act. Later seasons of The Andy Griffith Show saw McNear mostly sitting due to this. However, Russell Hiatt continued working as a barber until he retired in 2014. He was 90 at the time.

In 2014, the town held a birthday celebration for Hiatt as he approached retirement. He had become an institution in Mount Airy, and a frequent visit for fans of The Andy Griffith show making a pilgrimage. Then-Mayor Deborah Cockran declared it “Russell Hiatt Day.”

“This is just my life. I love it, and you don’t do anything unless you love it,” Hiatt told The Mount Airy News during the celebration. “I love people,” he said. “Both of my sons are here with me, my daughter, my grandkids, and my great-grandchildren, and I love them all.” Despite his years of being a barber, Hiatt still marveled at all the visitors that came through due to The Andy Griffith Show. “It’s really amazing,” he said. “There are people here from out of town just to be at my birthday party. Over the years, I’ve had people come in here from 40 countries.”

Russell Hiatt passed away in 2016. Floyd’s Barbershop remains a popular tourist destination to this day. Running from 1960 to 1968, The Andy Griffith Show is still beloved by generations. “Mayberry Days”, an annual event celebrating the show, is set for September 19-25 this year. The Andy Griffith Show can be seen on MeTV.

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