How does one appear in 72 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show without ever becoming a supporting player? It’s a question we’d love the opportunity to ask the late Tom Jacobs – a man who did exactly that.
Born just three years into the 20th century, Thomas Yakhoob would enter the world on March 31, 1903 in Monroe, Michigan. Today, film remembers the late actor by his stage name, Tom Jacobs.
From The Danny Thomas Show in the early 1950s to The Joey Bishop Show in the next decade, Jacobs would do his best to make a name for himself on the small screen. He even wound up on one of the most beloved television shows of all time: The Andy Griffith Show, starting in 1960. He’d stay until 1965, too.
So why, then, has no one heard of Tom Jacobs?
It’s a great question. Before his death on March 3, 1976 in Lucerne, California, Jacobs would amass an astounding 72 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show – and all without ever getting a character name.
Instead, IMDb lists the actor and his 72 credits under the moniker of “Townsman”. For five years, Tom Jacobs would appear on Andy Griffith as a Mayberry “Townsman”. But he would also appear as a “Grocer,” “Audience Member,” and most plainly: “Man”.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’s Disappearing Man: Tom Jacobs
As such, his filmography is beyond peculiar. Looking at his body of work on The Andy Griffith Show alone shows a smorgasbord of the most beloved episodes in the show’s history… All with Tom Jacobs right there in the cast:
- The Cannon (1965) … Townsman
- Aunt Bee on TV (1965) … Townsman
- Opie and the Carnival (1965) … Townsman
- The Luck of Newton Monroe (1965) … Townsman
- The Arrest of the Fun Girls (1965) … Townsman
- Barney Runs for Sheriff (1965) … Grocer
- Goober Takes a Car Apart (1965) … Man
- Otis Sues the County (1964) … Townsman
- Three Wishes for Opie (1964) … Townsman
- The list goes on…
Upon looking at his credits for The Danny Thomas Show and The Joey Bishop Show, it gets even stranger. There, the exact same happenstance occurs, with Tom Jacobs appearing in dozens of episodes – all whilst never garnering any sort of character name or recurring role.
For The Danny Thomas Show, it looks near identical to his The Andy Griffith Show work:
- The Practical Joke (1959) … Nightclub Worker
- Grampa’s Diet (1959) … Man in Delicatessen
- Terry’s Girlfriend (1958) … Waiter
- Terry, the Breadwinner (1957) … The Waiter
- Danny Goes Social (1957) … Cafe Waiter
- The School Teacher (1957) … Band Leader
- Danny Strikes Oil (1955) … Band Leader
- Terry Takes Charge (1954) … Messenger
Danny Thomas: A Famous Brother?
And then it appears. Buried deep in the IMDb history of Tom Jacobs is one key factor: he was the brother of the television star himself, Danny Thomas – who at one point shared the surname Jacobs with his brother.
Known primarily as a television actor, Thomas starred as the titular nightclub singer on the popular The Danny Thomas Show (1953).
By comparison, Thomas’ Hollywood resume is astounding, as are his award-winning turns on television. Thomas won everything from the Bob Hope Humanitarian Award to a “Best Actor Starring in a Regular Series” Primetime Emmy.
Now, at least, we know a part of the story for The Andy Griffith Show‘s most prolific extra.