‘The Andy Griffith Show’: How Griffith Discovered Howard Sprague Actor Jack Dodson

by Megan Molseed
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The Andy Griffith Show is quite possibly one of the most beloved television shows of all time. With its picturesque setting of the town of Mayberry as well as the colorful cast of characters that populate the town, The Andy Griffith Show gives us a look at the perfect Americana life. With a whole lot of goofiness sprinkled on top.

The fictional town of Mayberry was guarded by sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and his bumbling deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts).

However, by the fifth season of the hit CBS television series, Barney Fife decided to move on from Mayberry. Leaving a big pair of goofy Don Knotts-sized shoes for another character to fill to replace the role.

Additionally, another colorful Andy Griffith Show player, Jim Nabors was leaving the streets of Mayberry. Nabors’s character, Gomer, the dimwitted Mayberry mechanic was on his way to the Marines in the Andy Griffith Show spinoff series, Gomer Pyle USMC.

To keep up with the changes…and give fans the goofiness they had grown to love from Fife and Pyle, The Andy Griffith Show’s producer had to regroup. Finding the perfect actor to portray a character that would fill these humongous voids.

The answer to this conundrum came in the form of actor Jack Dodson.

Jack Dodson was picked up by The Andy Griffith Show to portray Howard Sprague.

Sprague was the wishy-washy county clerk that Sherriff Andy Taylor often deals with in the latter episodes.

A perfect pick, really.

But, how exactly, did Andy Griffith find this actor that would go on to give fans exactly what they needed? Especially as the show was facing some major changes? On Broadway, of course!

Andy Griffith Found Dobson Among The Bright Lights Of Broadway

Andy Griffith happened to catch Jack Dodson in a production of the two-actor broadway play Hughie. He was performing at the Royale Theatre in New York City.

Not long after this, Andy Griffith Show producers pulled the actor in to start his run on the popular series.

With his trademark bowties and mustachioed appearance, Jack Dobsons Howard Sprague was a sort of “mommas boy.”

Dodson portrayed Sprague as a character who let his overbearing and overprotective mother, played by Mabel Anderson, run many aspects of his life.

With some hilarious moments sprinkled in as audiences witness the unusual dynamic between the adult Sprague and his domineering mother.

In all, Howard Sprague was featured in a whopping thirty-seven episodes of the hit series.

This is more episode’s than some of the show’s other memorable Andy Griffith Show stars such as Barney Fife’s love interest Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn); or the Mayberry Jail’s regular visitor, Otis Campbell (Hal Smith); or even Jim Nabors’s Gomer Pyle who started on the series in 1962.

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