Before “The Waltons” made him a famous television name, Earl Hamner Jr. was just another writer hoping for his big break. It was during this time that he took a chance writing an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Hamner is famous for having created “The Waltons” and “Falcon Crest.” But, he’s obviously not famous for work on “The Andy Griffith Show.” So, what happened?
During the early 1960s, he was really struggling to get his career going. He had hoped that success would come quickly after his book, “Spencer’s Mountain,” had been successful.
According to MeTV.com, Hamner published “Spencer’s Mountain” in 1961. The book would be the inspiration for “The Waltons,” but that show was a decade in the future. So, what did Hamner do in the meantime?
Well, he did all he could to get writing jobs in Hollywood. Part of that effort involved writing what are known as spec scripts.
According to the article, a spec script is a script written “unsolicited” by the television show in question. The writer creates the episode script. Next, he shares it with the powers that be on said show hoping to get it produced. This is still a process used to this day.
Hamner took a chance with “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and wrote a spec script for the show. The show was very popular at the time and the aspiring television writer hoped the script would be selected. However, that wasn’t the case, but Hamner kept trying.
Hamner’s Spec Script for ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Wasn’t Produced
According to MeTV.com, Hamner next tried his hand with a show whose subject matter was closer to something he was familiar with. That show was “The Andy Griffith Show.” It was this show where Hamner thought he might have his breakthrough.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. What Hamner did not know when he submitted his script was that “The Andy Griffith Show” didn’t accept spec scripts.
“I thought maybe I could write ‘Andy Griffith’, but then I wrote a script and submitted it, only to find that everything was staff-written,” Hamner said, according to MeTV.com.
Not being able to writer an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” was disappointing to Hamner.
“I was getting pretty desperate because I was living in a rented house. My wife and children, two dogs and turtle, were in Davenport, Iowa, with my wife’s family,” he said, according to MeTV.com.
As the article also notes, it is sad that the man who would go on to create “The Waltons” didn’t get to try his hand at writing an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.” It would have been interesting to see what storylines Earl Hamner Jr. could have created for Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie, and Deputy Barney Fife, etc. on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Even though Hamner didn’t get his big break with his spec episode for “The Andy Griffith Show,” he didn’t have to wait too long for success to start happening for him. He eventually got to write for “The Twilight Zone.”