In the early 1960s, actress Joanna Moore suffered from hearing loss not long before joining the cast of The Andy Griffith Show in its first season.
From 1960 to 1968, the classic television show aired on CBS for eight seasons. As production got underway in 1960, showrunners cast Moore to play the role of Andy’s girlfriend in Season 1. In fact, the actress who played Peggy McMillan even had a natural southern drawl since she grew up in Georgia. So she fit right in on the new show.
However, right before they began filming, Moore started to go deaf. Despite her hearing loss, she continued to work on The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, she struggled at times on set. Moore had to read lips to get through her lines, and the director would tap her on the shoulder when scenes began.
In 1962, the Long Beach Independent Press-Telegram wrote about her experience with hearing loss. The outlet wrote that “she couldn’t hear a phone ring and a radio turned up full blast sounded like a distant, blurred noise.”
“It was hereditary deafness and I didn’t realize what was happening until I lost my hearing completely,” Moore explained.
Moore had otosclerosis – a bone growth in the middle of her ear. During the summer of 1962, the actress had surgery, which corrected the hearing loss. The procedure helped her get back to living a normal life as her work continued on The Andy Griffith Show.
“I liked the Griffith show better than anything else I’ve ever done. Everyone on the program is so nice,” Moore told the Akron Beacon Journal later on that same year.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Was Barney Fife Actor Don Knotts’ Southern Drawl Real?
Speaking of the The Andy Griffith Show and its cast members’ southern drawls, Don Knotts once touched on Barney Fife’s accent on the classic show. Fife was Sheriff Andy Taylor’s (Andy Griffith) right-hand man as the lovable and goofy Deputy Sheriff of Mayberry.
During a 1999 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Knotts revealed many details about his character. Knotts was asked to talk about what influenced the role and what helped him get into character. The interviewer then asked about Fife’s southern accent and how it came about. Since Knotts grew up in West Virginia, it wasn’t exactly a stretch for Knotts to pull off the southern drawl.
“Of course, I’m from West Virginia so I had a little bit of a hillbilly accent. But we didn’t lean on that,” The Andy Griffith Show star explained in the interview. “Andy, in the beginning, I think, laid on his southern dialect more than he really had. And then he pulled that way back as we went on.”
In fact, when the show first aired, Andy and Barney’s parts were somewhat reversed. In the debut episode, Andy played the silly role while Barney played the role of the more serious character. Yet that changed immediately afterwards. Griffith realized that Barney should be the comedic role, so they switched parts. Additionally, part of his character’s change was Griffith toning down his exaggerated southern accent.
“He pulled the character way down, and just played him as a normal guy,” Knotts revealed. “He has a natural southern accent anyways, so he didn’t have to put any more on.”