‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Briscoe Darling Actor Denver Pyle Studied To Become a Lawyer Before Acting Career

by Will Shepard
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One of the reoccurring guests on The Andy Griffith Show was Denver Pyle. He played the lovable Briscoe Darling on the show. Even though he was on the show for six total episodes, he made an impact.

Interestingly, his first credited acting gig in Hollywood was in 1947 on Devil Ship. Pyle was born in 1920 but did not go into acting immediately.

After he graduated from high school, The Andy Griffith Show actor when to the University of Colorado. He went to college to become a lawyer. But, he soon realized that going into law was not what he wanted to do. Consequently, he went back home and decided to travel.

While he was in law school he decided to leave. This was certainly a big step for the actor, but his father was incredibly supportive of the move. In a 1968 article from “The Times Record” newspaper in Troy, New York, Pyle shared the reaction his father had.

“I don’t want to be a lawyer,” Pyle told his father. “Oh,” his father said. “What do you want to be?”

Pyle told his father, “I don’t know.” So, in response, his father said, “Why don’t you go and find out?”

After traveling around the world for a while, Pyle settled on a career in acting. In the New York newspaper, he said, “Spain will always be there, but Doris Days may not always be doing a television series.”

“The Andy Griffith Show” Actor Wished That He Could Get the Girl

Pyle’s career took him on a grand tour of Hollywood. Part of the tour saw him play Briscoe Darling on The Andy Griffith Show. Often, he was cast as the antagonist or as a secondary character. This, unfortunately, meant that he never was able to woo a girl in a show

Even though he never got to “get the girl,” it didn’t stop him from wanting to do so. One of his episodes on The Andy Griffith Show was called “Briscoe Declares for Aunt Bee.”

But, even as lovable character as his character was, the episode didn’t result in wooing Aunt Bee. He spent the episode serenading Aunt Bee to no avail. She rejected all of his attempts. This was just one of the many examples of his failed attempts throughout his on-screen career.

“They talk about ‘overexposure’ among actors,” Pyle said in a MeTV article. “Me, if I don’t work in a few weeks, I get restless. I’m very good for half-hour TV films. [The] minute they see my face, people know my character — a slick heavy, a nasty heavy, a heavy heavy. One thing they know, I won’t get the girl. Just once I’d like to get the girl. But it’s been so long I’ve forgotten what I’d do anyway.”

Even though Pyle never got a chance to woo any women on TV, his work was respected in Hollywood. He said that he never got a single poor review from critics in his career. He said that was probably since he never played “the hero.”

“Not once in my life have I ever been rapped by a critic,” The Andy Griffith Show actor explained. “If the thing bombs, it’s the hero’s fault. If it’s good, then they say, boy, he sure had good support from people like Denver Pyle.”

Outsider.com