During the 1960s, “The Andy Griffith Show” was one of the most-watched and popular sitcoms of that era.
People like Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier have become widely associated for their roles in the fictional town of Mayberry.
There was one real-life person, however, that did not enjoy having a shoutout on the very popular sitcom.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Gets Sued
While some people may think it’s an honor to have gotten their name publicized on the show, Phil Sunkel would certainly not agree.
Phil Sunkel was the name of one of the touring musicians on “The Andy Griffith Show.” He plays the horn in Freddy Fleet’s band. He has a signature goatee that he was known for hiding while playing for Mayor Stoner. The actor portraying Sunkel was William Eben Stephens.
Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen Crump, was the one who named the character. She suggested the name Phil Sunkel to screenwriter Jim Fritzell.
Corsaut had a friend in New York that was a musician. She thought that he would enjoy hearing his name in an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
According to MeTV, Phil Sunkel, the real one, was not at all amused. He ended up trying to sue the show for $20,000 for using his name without his permission. After Corsaut spoke with him over the phone he decided to settle for $5,000.
Maybe he just wasn’t a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Andy Griffith Cancels Fan Statue
Don Knotts, who played Andy Taylor’s sidekick Barney Fife, passed away in February 2006.
When two fans heard the news, they decided on a course of action to honor the late actor. The fans were from Mount Airy, which also happens to be Andy Griffith’s hometown. They were attempting to commission a large life-size bronze statue of Barney Fife to place alongside the one of Griffith already there.
The Griffith statue already in place is of Andy and Opie holding hands and fishing rods.
According to Daniel de Visé’s memoir, “Andy and Don,” Andy Griffith was hysterical when he found out about the proposed statue. He said he “wanted the statue nipped in the bud.” He called Don Knott’s widow to ask her to withhold her blessing for the project.
It’s unclear why he was so desperate to stop the project meant to honor his late friend and co-star. However, he did end up convincing Francey to shelve the statue. Knotts would instead get his very own statue in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia in 2016.