‘The Andy Griffith Show’: One Episode’s Villain Actually Did Time in San Quentin

by Madison Miller
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On “The Andy Griffith Show,” Sheriff Andy Taylor interacted with a number of criminals. But one guest star actually turned out to have a real-life wrap sheet, spending time in San Quentin.

Throughout the show, Andy Taylor helps sort out any of the bad guys that end up in town. One particular villain was in an episode called “High Noon in Mayberry.”

This episode was from the third season of the show. An ex-con sends Andy a threatening letter saying he’s coming to town to set things straight with him. The two had personal history. Andy had shot the man in the leg while he was attempting to rob a local gas station. As a result, the man lost most of the functioning in that leg.

According to MeTV, the actor who plays the ex-con is Leo Gordon. The actor turned out to have a criminal past of his own. He had been arrested for armed robbery. Similar to his character on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Gordon was wounded by police while he was attempting his crime. He was shot several times and then was brought to San Quentin State Prison. He spent five years behind bars.

Interestingly enough, a history of armed robbery didn’t strip him from his ability to land television roles. In fact, he appeared in shows like “Gunsmoke,” “Bonanza,” “Get Smart,” and “Adam-12.”

Leo Gordon on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

But Leo Gordon’s character turned out to be harmless during the episode. Like the actor, he turned over a new leaf on life.

In the episode, Deputy Barney Fife is worried about Andy’s safety. But the sheriff still walks casually around town without even carrying a gun. Barney then deputizes Gomer and Otis in order to protect Andy.

When the man does arrive in town, it’s not as violent and deadly of an encounter as Barney expects. Instead, the ex-con, whose name in the show is Luke Comstock, knocks very politely on Andy’s front door. He thanks Andy for bringing him to justice.

Although his leg was severely damaged, Comstock instead furthered his education and eventually opened an electronic store chain.

More Roles for The Actor

Gordon had a very successful career as an actor. According to IMDb, Gordon has over 100 acting credits and over 30 credits as a writer. He had roles, typically as a villain, due to his icy stare and muscular build, in both TV shows and movies.

When Gordon got out of prison, Don Siegel, the director of “Riot in Cell Block 11” cast Gordon in his prison-based film. This 1954 movie was met with resistance. The Folsom State Prison, which is where filming was taking place, tried to stop Gordon from being cast due to his infamous reputation in prisons.

Despite calling Gordon the “scariest man I have ever met,” Siegel stood up for him. His role in films was so menacing it was hard to turn down.

However, Gordon also had less “scary” roles in Hollywood. Movies like “Black Patch,” “The Intruder,” and “Tobruk” all showed a more heroic side to the actor.

Outsider.com