If you’re a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” you can probably picture the cast in your mind. Andy, Opie, Barney, and the rest of the gang are iconic figures in American television. If you are or were a frequent watcher of the show, you probably even have an image of Sarah and Juanita in your mind. Those characters never appeared on-screen. However, other characters talked to and about them enough that viewers were familiar with them.
If you’re drawing a blank, the two female characters were talked about often. Sarah was Mayberry’s telephone operator. Juanita was Barney Fife’s sometimes-girlfriend as well as a waitress at the local café. Barney mentions the latter several times when discussing his love life. On the other hand, everyone talks to Sarah any time they make a phone call.
Many fans of “The Andy Griffith Show,” wonder why these characters never appeared on-screen. The main cast mentions them so often that they’re basically recurring characters. So, why not show them?
Richard Kelly discusses these characters in his book about the “Andy Griffith Show.” He notes that these two unseen characters are just as much a part of Mayberry as Opie and Andy. He wrote that Sarah and Juanita, “Acquired a credibility comparable to that of all the other characters – perhaps they were even more colorful because one’s imagination could play with them.”
In the same book, Andy Griffith sums it up more simply. “If you ever saw them, it would be a disappointment; they’re too colorful in your mind.” He’s probably right. If you build something up in your mind, reality will usually disappoint you in the end.
Don Knotts on the Unseen ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Characters
Don Knotts definitely had an image of Juanita in his mind. “The Andy Griffith Show,” co-star said that he saw Barney’s off-screen squeeze, “…as a conglomeration of every diner waitress I’ve ever seen that you try to make when you’re in there at one o’clock in the morning for a little coffee.”
It seems like he didn’t have a very high opinion of her, either. Knotts went on to say, “She was easy and Barney got a little on the side.” That’s an awfully hot take from Barney Fife. One can only assume that if Juanita would have appeared in the show, she would have nipped that in the bud. Despite Barney’s opinion of himself, he wasn’t much of a ladies’ man.