Back in March 1996, The Andy Griffith Show stars Don Knotts and Andy Griffith opened up in a joint interview about Mayberry and carrying guns while on the show.
The two actors joined host Matt Lauer on The Today Show in a segment about television’s favorite police show’s from past decades. The “Classic Cops” segment welcomed Mayberry’s sheriff and deputy to talk about their experiences on The Andy Griffith Show.
The classic show aired for eight seasons beginning in 1960 and focused on the small North Carolina town. Lauer asked Griffith about Mayberry, the little town that time had passed by.
“Though we never said it, and though it was shot in the ’60s, it had a feeling of the ’30s. It was when we were doing it… of a time gone by. And we were very careful to keep our characters always very pure. If a joke made a lie out of the character, we’d lose the joke,” Griffith explained.
The sheriff and deputy duo never faced many serious crimes in Mayberry. At worst they occasionally dealt with thieves or bank robbers, but there were never any murders in the town. Lauer pointed out that Griffith never even wore a gun with his uniform.
“The real reason I didn’t wear one is I didn’t want that weight on my hip,” Andy Griffith said.
“I didn’t know that,” Don Knotts amusingly responded.
“You didn’t? Hmm,” Griffith jokingly says to Knotts. “Well, we had a joke for his gun.”
Knotts’ character, Barney Fife, famously carried a gun, but only had one bullet. Lauer asked if the deputy ever came close to using his single bullet.
“A few times we used it. Usually to shoot myself in the foot,” Knotts said with a laugh.
Watch Griffith and Knotts’ full 1996 interview below.
When Ron Howard Knew Andy Griffith and Don Knotts Viewed Him as an Adult
Ron Howard played Opie on the classic show, the young son of Andy Griffith. Howard grew up on set during the eight seasons of The Andy Griffith Show that aired on CBS.
Howard was one of the only children on the show and was often surrounded by adults who excluded him from certain conversations. However, as he got older, the lead actors eventually acknowledged him as an adult. And it all began with a dirty joke.
Griffith and Knotts were chatting on the “Return To Mayberry” set when one of them told a dirty joke. Usually, they excluded Howard from their inside jokes. This time though, they noticed Howard close by. The two men went over and shared it with Howard, which in their own way showed “Opie” that they knew he had grown up.
Author of “Andy and Don,” Daniel De Vise, writes about Howard spending time with Griffith.
“Ron talked for hours with Andy – interviewed him, really, about his memories of running ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ asking all the questions he had never thought to pose on the old Mayberry set,” De Vise wrote.