HomeEntertainment‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith’s Mixed Feelings About ‘Real-Life’ Mayberry Came from Childhood Issues

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Griffith’s Mixed Feelings About ‘Real-Life’ Mayberry Came from Childhood Issues

by John Jamison
(Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)

Andy Griffith came from a small blue-collar town on which many feel the setting for “The Andy Griffith Show” was loosely based. And for all the charm that Mayberry exudes on the classic show, Griffith himself had mixed feelings about his hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina.

Of course, Sherrif Andy Taylor’s Mayberry didn’t paint an exact picture of Mount Airy. But the basis for the famed town has seen a major boom in its tourism industry since “The Andy Griffith Show” made its mark. Yet Griffith himself didn’t play much of a role in making that happen beyond creating the show. In fact, Griffith insisted that Mayberry wasn’t based on Mount Airy at all.

In a 1998 interview with the Archive of American Television, “The Andy Griffith Show” star addressed the subject.

“They think that I based the show on Mount Airy. I’ve argued about this too long. I don’t care. Let them think what they want to think,” Griffith said.

Andy Griffith said it was the show’s producers who were ultimately responsible for the show’s setting. And Mayberry wasn’t even intended to be set in North Carolina at first. Regardless of what the town is based on, Griffith’s feelings about his hometown have become a subject of discussion over the years.

An Investigative Journalist Tackles ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Daniel De Vise wrote a thoroughly researched book called “Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.” It was published in 2015. And it takes a deep dive into the world of the classic show.

De Vise himself has become an authority on the subject. Funnily enough, he was actually a brother-in-law to Barney Fife actor Don Knotts. It’s safe to say that he has a unique perspective on the classic show. And in conducting his research, De Vise discovered plenty. He found what he sees as the source of “The Andy Griffith Show” title character’s feelings about his hometown.

“As a boy in working-class Mount Airy, Andy fell victim to frequent bullying: He was an only child, clean-scrubbed, well-dressed and pampered, dwelling among other boys who had none of those advantages,” De Vise said in an interview with Jo Maeder. “Later in life, when he began to circulate among wealthier children from the more affluent part of town, they gave him a hard time.”

According to Daniel De Vise, Andy Griffith never felt like he truly belonged in Mount Airy. That kind of environment will take its toll on a kid. And De Vise asserts that when Griffith found success, he felt that it happened in spite of his hometown, not because of it.

As a result, Griffith didn’t have warm feelings toward Mount Airy. However, Andy Griffith grew to appreciate the love the town gave him over time.