‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Town Drunk Otis Campbell Actor Never Consumed Alcohol

by Clayton Edwards

The Andy Griffith Show was great. Besides the solid comedy team of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, one of the things that made the show great was its side characters. If you watched the show in the past, there’s a good chance these recurring minor characters stand out in your memory. Folks like Floyd the Barber or Andy and Barney’s love interests really added depth to the show. At the same time, they kept things fresh. If it was just the same handful of characters every week, things would get stale fast.

One of the most popular side characters on The Andy Griffith show was Otis Campbell, the town drunk. Viewers usually saw Otis either drunk or in jail or both. He was in jail so often, in fact, that his constant incarceration became a running gag on the show. He even had his own cell there in the courthouse.

In a 2003 cast reunion, Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, and Ron Howard got together to look back at the classic sitcom. The program was called Back to Mayberry. It aired on CBS to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Andy Griffith Show. During the reunion, they discussed some of the side characters and the actors who portrayed them.

The Andy Griffith Show Cast on Otis Campbell

Ron Howard said that the treatment of side characters on The Andy Griffith Show showed that the series had acceptance at its heart. As an example of this, he pointed to Otis Campbell. The main cast treated him like part of the family. However, as Ron Howard put it, “he wasn’t much good to anybody.”

Otis never meant anyone any harm. However, he was always about three sheets to the wind. Looking back at the show, you would almost believe that Hal Smith just showed up to shoot The Andy Griffith Show deep in his cups. At the very least, you would think that he drank enough on his own time to pull it off that well on-screen. Andy pointed out that Smith never actually drank. He was just that good of an actor.

Hal Smith had a long and successful career outside of The Andy Griffith Show. In fact, many people may be unaware that he was a large part of their childhood. Smith had voiceover roles in Garfield and Friends as well as several Winnie the Pooh cartoons. He also added his voice to several Yogi Bear shows as well as a few Charly Brown specials. Smith was a mainstay for Saturday morning cartoons. Country music fans might have seen him in the video for Alan Jackson’s 1991 hit “Don’t Rock the Jukebox.” Smith plays the bum who tries to get change from the jukebox in the video. Check it out below.