‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Jack Nicholson Appeared on the Series Before Catching His Big Break

by Clayton Edwards

Mayberry played host to several famous faces over the years. For example, both Barbara Eden and Don Rickles stopped in to share some screen time with Andy, Barney, and the rest. The show launched both Andy Griffith and Ron Howard to fame. Because of their time in Mayberry, they are household names today. Jack Nicholson appeared on the show twice before getting his break and becoming a star.

Nicholson shows up in two episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” and plays two different characters. His first appearance was in the episode, “Opie Finds a Baby,” in the seventh season. It was just a bit part. In the episode, a woman named Mrs. Garland abandons her baby on the courthouse steps after a fight with her husband. Nicholson plays the role of Mr. Garland. Opie and his pal find the baby and spend the entire episode trying to find it a home. In the episode, Nicholson is only on-screen long enough to reunite with his wife and child and get a stern lecture from Andy Taylor.

His second appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show” came in the eighth season. The episode titled “Aunt Bee, the Juror,” sees Nicholson playing a man accused of stealing a television. In his second appearance, he gets much more screen time. While on the stand at this trail, Nicholson delivers one of the few dramatic moments in the show’s long run according to MeTV.

Jack Nicholson’s Dramatic Performance on “The Andy Griffith Show”

In the episode, Jack Nicholson’s character explains that he wasn’t stealing a television. He was going to get it repaired but the shop was closed. However, when he saw that the back door was open, he went in there with the TV. He found the repair shop empty and left. Then, he was spotted by someone who assumed he was a thief. In a panic, he ran away. This led to his arrest. Aunt Bee is the only juror who believes that he is an innocent man.

You can watch his testimony on the stand in the clip above. In it, he calmly explains his position. While he isn’t over the top like he was in films like “The Shining,” Nicholson adds weight to his words. You can see that his iconic performance style was intact long before he made his big-screen debut.

Shortly after his second and final appearance on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Jack Nicholson landed his role in “Easy Rider,” and it was a hit. He went on to star in several movies and take home an armload of awards. However, his time in Mayberry would be Jack Nicholson’s last role on the small screen.

Jack Nicholson has appeared as himself on a few television shows including “American Idol” and “Saturday Night Live.” However, his role as the accused thief on the “Andy Griffith Show” was his last actual role in a TV series.