‘Matlock’: Linda Purl Revealed Why She Left Andy Griffith-Led Show

by Keeli Parkey

Even though an actress is perfect for a part in a television show or movie, that part might not be perfect for the actress. This appears to have been the case for Linda Purl during her brief tenure on “Matlock,” which starred television legend Andy Griffith.

According to information available on IMDb.com, the first season of “Matlock” aired on television during 1986. The show ran until 1995. In 1987, Purl talked to People Magazine about her career and her decision to leave “Matlock.”

That decision wasn’t an obvious one, according to the article. “Matlock” was a hit after its first season. The show’s success isn’t all that surprising. Griffith was the lead character, after all. In the show, he played Ben Matlock – an attorney who brought a lot of values and heart to his job.

Linda Purl was cast as Ben Matlock’s daughter, Charlene Matlock. However, according to the article, the show was mostly focused on the activities of its title character. This prompted Purl to make her exit from the show. The article called her exit from the popular show “a rare step.”

“I’d hoped the father-daughter relationship would be developed and explored,” Linda Purl reportedly told People in 1987. “But it just didn’t turn out that way.”

Linda Purl was 31 When She Chose to Leave ‘Matlock’

Linda Purl chose to leave “Matlock” when she was only 31 years old. What television viewers might not know is that she had been working in the entertainment industry since she was 17.

According to People, Purl played not one, but two characters on “Happy Days,” which is one of the most popular sitcoms in the history of television. In 1974, she played Gloria – a girlfriend of Richie Cunningham on the show. In 1982, she played Ashley Pfister – a girlfriend of Fonzie’s.

By the time she appeared on “Matlock,” Linda Purl had appeared in eight movies and 18 stage productions. The 1987 article also reported that she had recorded five albums and would sometimes perform a nightclub act.

Andy Griffith Recorded Gospel Music After ‘Matlock’ Ended

Linda Purl wasn’t the only actor on “Matlock” who recorded an album. Andy Griffith – the man behind the good-hearted attorney – recorded a gospel album and won a Grammy award during 1997 for his work.

Andy Griffith’s gospel music singing career was moved along thanks to producer Steve Tyrell.

“Steve Tyrell is a record producer,” Griffith reportedly told the Television Academy Foundation during 1998. “He was down in Wilmington pre-recording (country singer) Randy Travis. He came into my (Matlock) dressing room and I played him a cut of an old record I made 20, 30 years ago. I said, ‘I’d like to try that again sometime.’ Next thing you know, we’re in Nashville and picking hymns.”