‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Two Actors Starred on the Radio Version of ‘Gunsmoke’

by Matthew Wilson
‘Andy-Griffith-Show’-Two-Actors-Starred-on-Radio-Version-of-‘Gunsmoke’

These two actors may have entertained audiences on-camera on “The Andy Griffith Show.” But they also lent their voices to radio. Howard McNear and Parley Baer starred in the radio version of “Gunsmoke.”

Audiences may not know this, but the long-running western actually got its start as a radio broadcast. The adventures of Matt Dillon was a successful radio broadcast that got turned into an even more successful TV series. There were a few key differences between the two. For one, the radio series was more gritty and darker than the TV series. Likewise, it featured a different cast as well. Before they appeared on “The Andy Griffith Show,” McNear and Baer lent their voices to Doc Adams and Chester respectively.

When it came time to produce a TV series, the iconic roles were eventually recast. The network wanted actors that better fit the look of how they imagined the characters. But the radio series continued alongside the TV series all the way up to 1961, showing the continued adventures of the Old West.

The Two Actors on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Baer joined Mayberry as its head politician. The actor lent his skills to the role of Mayor Roy Stoner on the hit TV series. Baer only appeared as Stoner between 1962 and 1963, making his tenure in the coveted town office somewhat of a short-term limit. in comparison. Meanwhile, McNear was much more of a staple in Mayberry.

On “The Andy Griffith Show,” McNear played the town barber Floyd. Originally, Walton Baldwin filled the role, but production replaced him with McNear after just one episode. McNear brought his own tics to the character, slowing down Floyd’s dialogue delivery over time. During Season Three, McNear had a stroke that took him off the Mayberry set. The actor eventually recovered, but he had limited use of his limbs.

The actor returned to “The Andy Griffith Show” during Season Four. Production constructed him a special chair to sit in due to the actor not being able to stand for long periods of time. McNear appeared as Floyd until Season Seven when his health took a turn. He left before Season Eight and died less than a year later.

At McNear’s funeral, Baer gave a eulogy for the actor, who had been his friend and co-star on two productions. Baer himself eventually passed from a stroke in 2002 at the age of 88.

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