‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Andy and Don Knotts Both Saw Psychiatrists

by Megan Molseed
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When one lives in the peacefulness of the iconic small-American town of the Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry, psychiatrists may not be necessary.

However, the actors who play the law enforcement who serve the citizens in the ideal American small town were aware that the picturesque ideality offered in Mayberry wasn’t completely real. And, both the actor who played the fictional town’s sheriff, Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith), and his deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts), were into working on their mental health.

The two regularly saw psychiatrists while working on the popular American sitcom, and beyond.

Don Knotts’s doctor even found a guest-starring role on the iconic Andy Griffith Show.

Feeling A Sense of Frustration

While the town of Mayberry did not have a resident psychiatrist, behind the scenes of the show was quite different.

Which was a relief to the show’s namesake and star, Andy Griffith.

“I put my fist through a wall one day on the set and I started to back into the corner,” Griffith told Chicago Daily News in a 1977 interview.

Griffith says it was hard for him to give audiences a sense of where the Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor ended, and the real Andy Griffith began. And, the actor notes, this was a real sense of frustration.

“Am I going crazy?” the star asked his Andy Griffith Show producer and friend, Aaron Rubin, after the incident.

According to Griffith, Rubin was quick to assure him that he was not crazy.

However, he may benefit from discussing his frustrations with a professional; something the television star continued to do for years afterward.

He ‘Wouldn’t Have Made It’

The actor who played Andy Taylor’s Mayberry deputy assistant, Barney Fife, however, was not new to the psychiatrist’s office as the popular television series hit the airwaves in 1960.

In fact, Knotts’s own brother-in-law discussed the actor’s experience with a well-known Hollywood psychiatrist in his autobiography Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show.

The writer notes that the actor became addicted to sleeping pills early in the Andy Griffith Show’s eight year run.

To find help for this addiction, Don Knotts began seeing prominent psychiatrist, Dick Renneker.

During his sessions, the Andy Griffith Show star soon discovered that his stresses, and subsequent addictions, were related to some childhood fears he had never completely gotten over. Eventually, the professional helped Knotts overcome the fears, and kick the addiction.

“I’m convinced my dad wouldn’t have made it,” said Don Knotts’s son, Tom, of the help his father received from the Dick Rennecker in his sessions. “He would have committed suicide or something.”

In fact, many were appreciative of how the prominent psychiatrist. The doctor was even named an “honorary citizen” of Mayberry.

A Touching – And Hilarious ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Shout-Out

In the Andy Griffith Show’s season four episode, The Shoplifters, Mayberry Sherriff Andy Taylor, and his deputy Barney Fife are sitting in their squad car watching as the people of Mayberry pass by.

Suddenly, Andy hollers to a citizen off-camera: “Howdy, Dick!” the Sherriff says.

Taylor then turns to his deputy and notes that this Dick he just said ‘hi’ to was a “Dick Renneker.”

Of course, the two Mayberry officers had to rib the prominent doctor a little bit on screen; as they went on to joke about the unseen Mayberry citizen’s horrible toupe…for quite a while.

That is one sweet, and hilarious, shout-out to a beloved doctor, that’s for sure!

Outsider.com