‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Andy Griffith Explained Importance of ‘Mayberry’ as a Character

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by CBS via Getty Images

For Andy Griffith, making sure “Mayberry” was truly a part of “The Andy Griffith Show” and its characters meant a lot to him.

Griffith said in a 1965 interview with The New York Times that “Mayberry” was needed as a character. The city, which is based on Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., is the center of each character’s life.

“I think it is because we–everyone on the show–have a real sense of community, of kindness toward one another,” Griffith said. “The basic rule by which we live comes through on the program, kindness comes through.

Mayberry Had Key Role On ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Each Week

“The show also has a number of featured performers, each with a definite character we can write around for any episode,” he said. “But equally important is the character of Mayberry itself. We try to make it a real little community with its small problems and those of its people put forth comedically.”

“Mayberry” has become synonymous with small-town living through “The Andy Griffith Show.” Initially, Griffith’s first appearance as Taylor came on “The Danny Thomas Show” in 1960. The character of “Mayberry,” in a sense, also made its first showing on national TV.

Once people responded well to Griffith’s appearance, Thomas, an entertainer and TV star himself, worked with Sheldon Leonard to create “The Andy Griffith Show.”

When Griffith’s show hit CBS, it started gaining a lot of attention and grew into a fan favorite. Two spinoffs from that show, “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.” and “Mayberry R.F.D.”, found landing places also on CBS for a number of seasons.

Iconic Theme Song, Opening Connects Griffith To His Own Father

Speaking of “The Andy Griffith Show,” you probably could simply see the name of the show and begin to sing the theme song.

It’s a rather unique song, one which involves whistling over the music itself. The song is called “The Fishin’ Hole” and was written by Earle Hagen and Herbert Spencer. Now the whistling you hear on the theme song actually is being done by Hagen.

When talking about TV theme songs, then there’s no doubt “The Fishin’ Hole” belongs among the top ones. The show’s opening has a little distinctive moment, too. You know Opie, played by Ron Howard, takes a rock and attempts to make it skip across the water. Well, once he throws it then you’ll see Andy Griffith give him a nod of approval.

That was Griffith’s way of giving a tip of the cap toward his own father in the show. See, Andy’s dad would nod like Griffith did in a like manner. It falls under the “like father, like son” category.