‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith Explained How His Big Break on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ Went Terribly Wrong

by Will Shepard

Andy Griffith was able to get his own show in 1960 called The Andy Griffith Show. Interestingly, the star of the show had only been working as an actor for a short time.

He began his career as a monologuist. Starting in the 1950s, Griffith slowly transitioned into acting. He worked on teleplays, on Broadway, and finally broke into Hollywood.

The star of The Andy Griffith Show got his big break in 1959 when he got a spot on The Ed Sullivan Show. But he only got one episode on the show. During the sole episode, he played Destry in a scene from “Destry Rides Again.”

In an old interview with Ralph Emery for On the Record, Griffith talked about what the experience was like. The conversation between the two covers much of Griffith’s career. Griffith talks about his career path. One thing that Griffith addressed was how badly The Ed Sullivan Show went for him.

“The Andy Griffith Show” Star Talked About What Went Wrong In New York

Emery asked him what went so wrong when he went to New York. So, Griffith explained what transpired for him.

“The first job I had was on The Ed Sullivan Show. I was so terrified that I don’t even remember doing it. The only thing I remember about it was a guy pointed his finger,” Griffith motions that a man took his hand and held it over his head, then dramatically threw it down with his pointer finger extended. “Like that, for me to walk out on stage.”

I remember that I did not get any laughs. At all,” Griffith said as he emphasized the point by raising his eyebrows.

“Ed Sullivan wanted to tie me up to eighteen shots, and we and Marge gave him four.” The Andy Griffith Show star continued to explain what went wrong. “That next Monday after his show was on, on Sunday, he called, wanting out of the other three.”

“I was glad to let him out. Glad to!” Griffith reiterated.

Even though the show didn’t work out for Andy Griffith, he didn’t have to wait much longer for work. Roughly a year later, the budding comedy star and musician was given the reins to his own show.

As many know, The Andy Griffith Show, became his calling card. The show was excellent for its eight seasons on television. In fact, the show never fell below seventh in the seasonal Nielsen ratings. When the show ended, it was the number one ranked show in the country.