‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Don Knotts Wrote Iconic Constitution ‘Preamble’ Scene

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

Magic appears in television shows. Some call it chemistry, and no one doubts Andy Griffith and Don Knotts had it on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

You can start counting episodes and scenes on your fingers and hands. It still wouldn’t be enough to register how many times these two provided laughs. Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” was the first to tell anyone listening that Knotts made the show funny.

Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife, actually was the creator of one of the show’s magical moments. Remember when Barney told Andy that he could recite the Preamble to the United States Constitution? That was all from the creative mind of Knotts.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Calls Written Work ‘Brilliant Piece’

Griffith sat down for a 1996 interview with famed Nashville disc jockey Ralph Emery on his “On The Record” show.

After showing a few minutes of the back-and-forth between Andy and Barney, Griffith looks at Emery. He said, “It was a brilliant piece and he wrote that. I mean he didn’t write the Preamble but it was his notion. He put it together.”

This scene has Knotts at his rubbery-faced best, twisting himself in a knot trying to remember the Preamble. He tells Griffith as Taylor that he had to learn it in high school and still remembers it. Fife turns to the Constitution and encourages Andy to listen to him recite the Preamble.

How well do you think the confident Fife did at the moment? You take a look and decide for yourself in this classic scene from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Actor Who Played Frequent Jail Visitor Otis Campbell Actually Never Drank

While we’re talking about Barney Fife getting all worked up trying to remember the Preamble, do you recall how much he hassled Otis Campbell?

OK, old Otis may have deserved it since he was the town drunk in Mayberry. You might see Barney drag him in from the streets and haul him into a cell. Sometimes, Otis would just wander into the jail himself, wave at Andy, go get the key, unlock his cell, and go to sleep.

Actor Hal Smith portrayed Campbell on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He did so well that, in real life, Smith didn’t drink. Griffith said he didn’t while talking about the show during a CBS special called “The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back To Mayberry.”

Beyond his role as Otis, Smith was an excellent voiceover actor. He did work on “Garfield and Friends,” “Winnie the Pooh,” “Yogi Bear,” and some “Charlie Brown” specials, too.

Smith died on Jan. 28, 1994, at 77 years old. Griffith and Knotts are also dead.

Their work lives on in the hearts of many who still enjoy watching the shenanigans in Mayberry.