‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Biography Writer Explains How Sheriff Taylor Defended Mayberry

by Joe Rutland
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“The Andy Griffith Show” had a certain level of compassion within it. That resonates from how Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor treats others.

Author Daniel de Vise’, in his book “Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show,” talks about it in a 2016 interview with Jo Maeder.

“When I think of the characters that surrounded Andy, I regard most of them as lovable, flawed individuals,” de Vise’ tells Maeder.

“They might have slightly off-kilter personalities, and they might not come from traditional nuclear families,” he said. De Vise’ says “The Andy Griffith Show” characters might appear naive and oblivious to Mayberry’s place in the “big, wide world.”

“And they might harbor any number of minor hang-ups and neuroses that a psychiatrist would probably love to explore,” he says. “Were a psychiatrist to set up shop in Mayberry.”

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Author Says Taylor Is Citizen ‘Who Has It All Together’

Then de Vise’ turns his attention toward “The Andy Griffith Show” lead character. He says Sheriff Andy Taylor is “the one citizen of Mayberry who has it all together.”

“He might not have the most successful romantic life, at least in the early seasons,” De Vise’ says. “But he is clearly an intelligent, mature, worldly, well-adjusted man.”

The author says Taylor is “able to function … yet stay strong to savvy outsiders who parade through town.”

That includes “all the businessmen and lawyers and politicians who roll in” and think they can get one over on Taylor.

“Because Andy is all these things, and his neighbors are not,” De Vise’ says, “Andy serves as their ambassador to the outside world, protecting Barney [Deputy Fife] and Otis [the Town Drunk] and Floyd [the Barber] and [Aunt] Bee from harm, saving them from themselves.”

CBS Sitcom Ran For Eight Seasons With Griffith Leading The Way

As de Vise’ mentions other stars from “The Andy Griffith Show,” Don Knotts, obviously, played Fife. Actor Hal Smith played Otis, Howard McNear played Floyd, and actress Frances Bavier played Aunt Bee. Not mentioned is Jim Nabors, who played Gomer Pyle.

“The Andy Griffith Show” ran for eight seasons on CBS, becoming one of the network’s most popular sitcoms. It established Griffith as a TV icon. He would go on to have another successful series years later as attorney Ben Matlock on “Matlock.”

Knotts, who left the show after five seasons, would make guest appearances in later episodes. But he turned his attention toward movies like “The Ghost and Mr. Chicken” and “The Shakiest Gun in the West” for Universal Pictures.

But the love and compassion Griffith shows Mayberry’s characters in his sheriff’s role remains attractive to viewers even today. Griffith took a pilot from “The Danny Thomas Show” and turned it into a show that provided laughs and life lessons.

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