A Few Casting Miscues by Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith as  Andy Taylor and tough  taskmaster over the  Andy Griffith Show
Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor and tough taskmaster over the Andy Griffith Show | Source

The beginning

Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, television producer, Southern gospel singer, and writer.He was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead character in the situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968), where he was the lead as "Andy Taylor," sheriff of the fictitious town, "Mayberry," North Carolina and in the legal drama, Matlock (1986–1995).

I am owning what I am doing

I may be breaking one of the cardinal rules of life by not talking (about) a deceased person, and whatever correction that God chooses for me I deserve. But in this case I am going ot talk (to) a deceased person: Andy Griffith, the star, director, script supervisor, and austere taskmaster behind the scenes in getting each week's "Andy Griffith Show" episode ready for airing.

"He (Andy Griffith) was surely one mean (EXPLETIVE) on the set," remarked Don Knotts, Griffith's best pal in real life. "He oversaw every detail of the show from camera angles to the scripts that he had a habit of changing so much that Aaron Ruben, his script supervisor would grow irritated and threaten to quit, but the smooth negotiator, Griffith, always talked him into staying for another season."

According to another reliable source, Griffith appeared in one episode with his right hand and wrist bandaged and the viewers thought it was a part of the script, and it was, as "Andy Taylor," said, "I got this in a tussle with some criminals," and that was that. What really happened was Griffith, who had an explosive temper, threw a tantrum in his home about some small detail of his show and put his right fist through a wall in his living room.

Don Knotts as  deputy sheriff, Barney Fife
Don Knotts as deputy sheriff, Barney Fife

To Don Knotts

I will always appreciate and love you as "Barney Fife." No, you were not the "sharpest knife in the drawer," but you were certainly not the worst deputy ever to pin on a badge. I hurt each time then and now when "Andy Taylor," your boss on the "Andy Griffith Show," would pull one of his mean-spirited pranks on you to just get a laugh. I hated that about the scripts that Griffith approved.

Care for more "meat" of this piece?

Back to talking (to) the deceased person, Andy Griffith, whom I am very sorry that you left us, the "Mayberry Rerun Faithful," and (that) character, "Andy Taylor," I loved as I did all of the characters on your show, but as your position of casting consultant, you made a few blunders along the way. These casting errors are what I am going to approach you about. No offense and do not take my honest views personally.

I am fully aware that you, Andy Griffith, were "the" star of the "Andy Griffith Show," and for good reason. You had taken "No Time for Sergeants," a hit on Broadway to the silver screen (in 1958) with Nick Adams playing as your co-star "Pvt. Ben Whitledge." And with your huge success on stage and screen, it was no surprise at Danny Thomas and Sheldon Leonard, two Hollywood men of genius status, cast you in a cameo appearance on Thomas' sitcom, "Make Room For Daddy," where you introduced yourself to Thomas and his family as "sheriff of this town, Mayberry." So with your meteoric rise to popularity, I credit you for having a certain amount of power and control over the "Andy Griffith Show," as you probably saw it as your "baby," but face it, Andy Griffith. Didn't you sometimes allow this power and fame to cloud your judgement to the point of miscasting certain actors to fill slots not to just get more laughs, but to show that "you" ran things on this show?

Andy pulls yet  another joke on Barney
Andy pulls yet another joke on Barney | Source

Proof Positive (photo to right)

that "Andy Taylor" set poor "Barney Fife," up a lot of times and frankly, overdid it by way of pranks and misleading "Fife" to do certain things like "taking this piece of chalk and marking the tires of those vehicles parked illegally at the post office," "Taylor" said in one of his pranks on "Fife."

To show "Andy's" ability to manipulate "Barney," we all remember this episode where "Barney" buys a motorcycle  and uses it to help patrol  Highway 5, "Check point chickee." "Andy" cons "Barney" to give the cycle to a war memorial  in Mayberry
To show "Andy's" ability to manipulate "Barney," we all remember this episode where "Barney" buys a motorcycle and uses it to help patrol Highway 5, "Check point chickee." "Andy" cons "Barney" to give the cycle to a war memorial in Mayberry | Source

"Barney's" Motorcycle

was a good idea, but "Andy," "Aunt Bea," and the town low-lifes, "Choney," and "Jud," got into the act of making light of "Barney," thus causing "Andy Taylor" to side with them and con "Barney" into thinking of the "Milo boys," veterans of WW II and give his motorcycle to the "Mayberry War Memorial" in their honor. Was it too much to ask, "Andy Griffith," to just once, let "Barney," have a good ending on one of "your" shows?

Jack "Rafe Hollister" Prince with Hal "Otis" Smith

"Andy Taylor," accompanies "Rafe Hollister," played by Jack Prince in a song he later sings for the Ladies' Musicale and once again, "Andy" railroads "Barney" out of singing for an audience, something he loved.
"Andy Taylor," accompanies "Rafe Hollister," played by Jack Prince in a song he later sings for the Ladies' Musicale and once again, "Andy" railroads "Barney" out of singing for an audience, something he loved. | Source

"Andy Taylor's" Manipulation

of "Barney Fife"

to take "Rafe Hollister," played by Jack Prince, a singer in real life whom Andy Griffith cast as "Hollister," an on-again, off-again moonshiner and hater of modern medicine. In this episode, "Barney," is practicing his number for the Ladies Musicale, but in walks "Hollister," who "Andy," allows to butt in when "Barney" is singing to instruct him on how to sing his song. "Andy Taylor," never offered one defense of "Barney," but as "Rafe" and "Barney," head out to the try-out's, "Taylor" pokes fun at "Fife" at his inability to know what Capella really meant.

Dick Elliott as  "Mayor Pike," the  best of the two mayors
Dick Elliott as "Mayor Pike," the best of the two mayors | Source
Casting Parley Baer, as "Mayor Roy Stoner," was another one of Griffiths  casting mistakes
Casting Parley Baer, as "Mayor Roy Stoner," was another one of Griffiths casting mistakes | Source

Hey, Mr. Dick Elliott, "Mayor Pike"

Friend, you were THE BEST of the two actors that played as mayor of Mayberry. I hate mentioning the other actor, Parley Baer, who was miscast as "Mayor Stoner," but I did and still hold true to my original thinking, Mr. Elliott of your bettering Baer as the one who was best as the mayor. Your character, I'm sure, was much like you in real life--humble, fun-loving, tender-hearted and giving. I hated that you passed away before season two of the "Andy Griffith Show" got underway, but my friend, you garnered a big reward in eternity.

Parley Baer, "Mayor Stoner"

I never liked your character, Parley. I won't lie about it. And I am sure that Andy Griffith, the first and last word on the set had your character written in such an arrogant, self-centered, know-it-all fashion, that I am not the only one who disliked "Roy Stoner." Oh, I am sure that you are with all of, or most of the Hollywood legends up there in Heaven and this may not affect you, but it will those "Mayberry Rerun Faithful," like me. You should have been cast as a grocery store owner.

Will Wright was cast as  Ben Weaver: eccentric, short-spoken and mean  old store owner
Will Wright was cast as Ben Weaver: eccentric, short-spoken and mean old store owner | Source

No love lost, Will Wright

as you were great in one episode: "Christmas in Mayberry," where "Andy Taylor," threw you in jail due to you wanting to be arrested to have an excuse to share in the Christmas festivities that were being held inside the Mayberry Jail quarters. There were two "Ben Weavers," but of the two, you were the most hateful of the two. Your character even tried to get "Bert Miller," Sterling Holloway, an humble, honest, traveling salesman kicked out of Maybery for taking some trade from you. Oh, you were greed defined.

Now, "Mayberry Rerun Faithful," we are going to take a good, close look at . . .

"Andy Taylor's Girlfriends and Eventual Wife"

A major casting miscue by Andy Griffith was casting Elinor Donahue as "Ellie Walker," "Fred Walker," the owner of "Walker's Drug Store's" daughter
A major casting miscue by Andy Griffith was casting Elinor Donahue as "Ellie Walker," "Fred Walker," the owner of "Walker's Drug Store's" daughter | Source

Elinor Donahue?

"Andy's" Love Interest?

Seriously? That's what most of us thought when Donahue breezed onto the "Mayberry" set. At first, she tried to help create the on-screen chemistry with "Andy Taylor," as his love interest, but as she said later in an interview, "it was just not there." So why didn't Andy Griffith do as Don Knotts' character, "Barney Fife," would say, "Nip it in the bud," so we would not have to suffer?

Joanna Moore was  Peggy McMillan, county nurse, who would have been "the" love interest for "Andy Taylor."
Joanna Moore was Peggy McMillan, county nurse, who would have been "the" love interest for "Andy Taylor." | Source

Joanna Moore, "Peggy McMillan"

One of the three county nurses on the "Andy Grifith Show." The other two were Julie Adams and Sue Ann Langdon. "Peggy McMillan (in photo). In my honest opinion, Joanna/"Peg," was THE girl for "Andy Taylor." She was great for "Opie," for she knew how to talk to him and yes, she was a perfect "10," going way past Bo Derrick. "Andy" and "Peggy" were a match. And why on earth did Andy Griffith cast Elinor Donahue as his on-screen love interest is still beyond me and I suppose it always will be one of those "Mayberry" mysteries we will never uncover. Maybe one day some treasure hunter will find the reason written on a piece of paper in the creepy, dark basement in the "Rimshaw House."

Be sure to check this out

Julie Adams was another "Mary," the county nurse who was trying to get a gruff "Rafe Hollister" take his yearly shot, but always rejected her efforts
Julie Adams was another "Mary," the county nurse who was trying to get a gruff "Rafe Hollister" take his yearly shot, but always rejected her efforts | Source
Sue Ann Langdon, "Mary Simpson," was also cast as a county nurse and she had potential to be "Andy's" girlfriend, but she was no competiton for "Peggy"
Sue Ann Langdon, "Mary Simpson," was also cast as a county nurse and she had potential to be "Andy's" girlfriend, but she was no competiton for "Peggy" | Source

Julie Adams (in right photo)

was cast, not as a showgirl, although she does have "that" glam look. Adams was one of the three "Mary's" who portrayed the county nurse who walked into "Andy Taylor's" office and without as much as an eyelash batting, tried to steal his heart.

Adams in her "Mary" role, got "Andy Taylor" to accompany her to visit a then-gruff and rough, "Rafe Hollister," who the writers had not polished yet and was dead-set against taking a yearly vaccination shot.

But in the end, a smooth-talking "Taylor," told "Hollister" a tale about him, "Hollister" being immortal and a statue might be raised in his honor. This of course, scared "Hollister," into taking the shot. But in this episode, "Hollister," aka/ Jack Prince had not yet started singing as part of Andy Griffith's grand scheme for his show.

Sue Ann Langdon (photo below Adams)

also played "Mary Simpson," another country nurse, but her portrayal was much more down-to-earth than Adams' had portrayed this role on the "Andy Griffith Show."

"Andy Taylor," wasted no time in commencing to court "Mary," by visiting her after hours, eating pizza with "Thelma Lou," and "Barney," and when "Taylor" got "Fife" to understand that he, "Taylor,"wanted to court "Mary" alone, things were much easier.

But sadly, Sue Ann Langdon as well as Julie Adams were not recast for "Taylor's" on-screen love interest.

Closing Facts About Andy Griffith and the "Andy Griffith Show"

Aneta Corsaut was mis-cast as Helen  Crump Andys girlfriend  and later wife
Aneta Corsaut was mis-cast as Helen Crump Andys girlfriend and later wife | Source
Source

What a Turn-Off!

casting Aneta Corsaut as "Andy Taylor's" girlfriend and finally his wife. "Helen Crump," (sounds like a name straight out of "The Wizard of Oz") but Griffith, like always, got his way in putting Corsaut as his girl.

At first, "Crump," was soft-spoken, mellow and pleasant, but as the show progressed we all hated to see her change into this manipulative (I guess to match Griffith) over-bearing, jealous school teacher who told "Andy Taylor" how high to jump.

I wish I could have been sent back to the moment in time when Andy Griffith leaned on the casting department and demanded Aneta Corsaut to be his girlfriend/wife. Of course I would have traveled by time machine, but it doesn't matter. If I could have only said something to change his mind and today, I would not be writing this piece.

"Andy Taylor" and son, "Opie," Ronny Howard were a perfect match for father and son roles on the "Andy Griffith Show"
"Andy Taylor" and son, "Opie," Ronny Howard were a perfect match for father and son roles on the "Andy Griffith Show" | Source
Howard McNear  as "Floyd," the barber and "Andy Taylor,"  enjoy a good joke  about Barney
Howard McNear as "Floyd," the barber and "Andy Taylor," enjoy a good joke about Barney

"That's it, "Mayberry Faithful!"

"Thank you for reading my hubs,

and I close with a . . .

Good night, Woodruff, S.C., home of my cousins, Donald and Zellon Colburn"

© 2016 Kenneth Avery

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Comments 4 comments

Shyron E Shenko profile image

Shyron E Shenko 3 months ago

Kenneth, thank you for showing us the Andy Griffith show in a different light, I did so much enjoy your review/critique of the show. I loved the show and I loved Andy, but you have tarnished my image of him a bit.

Blessings dear friend

P.S. I know that I was following you

But, somehow things went askew

And now I am following you anew

No wonder of your hubs I missed a few


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 3 months ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Dear Shyron,

Thanks, dear friend and treasured follower, for your sweet comment and nice poem.

But my intention was not to tarnish your image of Andy. Not at all. I used materials I had gathered over a long period of time to discuss this delicate subject.

"All that's seen is not as it appears," certainly took on a deeper meaning as more and more I read the behind-the-scenes stories about Andy and the cast.

I still love Andy and the others. Always will.

I really apologize to you if I have offended you.

I am not a mean-spirited person.

Honest.

Write me anytime.


AF CHIEF profile image

AF CHIEF 5 weeks ago from Midwest

Rarely are the created on-screen characters similar to the off-screen personality of the stars. Hopefully pulling back the curtain just a little on Andy Griffith doesnt ruin the show for his many devoted fans. The biggest negative of the show for me was the fact that "Aunt Bea" truly disliked "Andy" in real life. Great article, I enjoyed playing some of those scenes back in my mind as you discussed them.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 2 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama Author

Hey, AF CHIEF,

Sorry for being so long in responding.

Thanks so much for your warm comment. I needed it for down here in northwest Alabama it is getting cold and that is something, (besides dampness), that my Fibromyalgia cannot stand.

Andy was and still is a treat to watch, but I think that maybe Andy (Griffith) had way too much power when producing this show.

I was not against him pulling the occasional prank on Barney, but why ONLY Barney? Why not prank Aunt Bea? Or Floyd?

Would that one move not given the show a deeper sense of reality?

I am just thinking out loud.

You and Yours have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving and a Very Merry Christmas. Not Xmas.

Write me anytime and I am grateful to have you following me.

I hope that you got my email of thanks that I sent you.

Kenneth

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