‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actor Explained How Don Knotts Kept Taking Her Lines Away

by Joe Rutland
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Oh, Don Knotts. We love him so much on “The Andy Griffith Show” but one actor talks about the comedian taking her lines.

Elinor Donohue, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor’s girlfriend and Mayberry pharmacist Ellie Walker, discusses this during a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television.

“It was Don Knotts and he that just clicked,” Donohue, who is alive at 84 years old, said. “And I don’t think they ever felt that that was what was going to happen. And we’d sit around the table for the first reading and Andy would say, ‘You know, why don’t we give Ellie’s line to Don and have done say that?’

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Said Knotts Saying Lines Made Them Funny

“So my lines were [getting] kept taking away, taking away, taking away but they worked,” Donohue said of her time on “The Andy Griffith Show.” Knotts, of course, played Deputy Barney Fife and was Taylor’s right-hand man in fighting crime in Mayberry.

“When Don said them, they were funny,” Donohue, who achieved earlier stardom on “Father Knows Best,” said. “They weren’t funny when I said them. I’m not funny and, you know, it just worked. It evolved.”

Donohue said in the interview that Knotts was wonderful to work with on the show.

“The world of comedy, the world, has lost a great person when he passed away a few weeks ago,” she said of Knotts, who died on Feb. 24, 2006, at 81 years old. “Dear, dear person.”

Obviously, there was definite comedic energy between Griffith and Knotts. Donohue signed on for three seasons with “The Andy Griffith Show” but left after just one season. Her career continued, though, as she would appear in shows like “Have Gun Will Travel,” “The Odd Couple,” “The Flying Nun,” and “Diff’rent Strokes.”

Griffith Made Sure Everyone Was On Same Page When It Came To The Set

As Donohue said, Griffith would hear a line and suggest that Knotts say it instead. The star of “The Andy Griffith Show” didn’t sit back and simply bask in the show’s glory.

Griffith was very involved in making sure the tone and tenor of the show was on point. Ron Howard, who played Opie Taylor on the CBS sitcom, refers to this when talking about his time under the stars’ guidance.

“[Show producer] Aaron Rubin worked closely with Andy and developed the stories and understood the characters,” he said in another interview with the Archive of American Television. Rubin also knew how to make a great television show, Howard said, as did executive producer Sheldon Leonard.

“But the tone very much reflected Andy and his sensibility and his sense of humor,” Howard said. Its Southern style and charm were callbacks to Griffith’s youth in Mount Airy, N.C.

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