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A Few Casting Miscues by Andy Griffith
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.
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?
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."
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'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.
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.
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"
"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, "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."
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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"
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.
"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