Even the most popular television shows that people watch again and again have bits of behind-the-scenes secrets and details about the cast members that hide in the darkness. Here, we dig into the lesser known aspects of The Andy Griffith Show. What strange things did fans mail to Don Knotts? Which episode was Andy Griffith’s favorite? And who was that mysterious actor who played Mr. Schwamp? Keep reading through to find out.
Many viewers didn’t know that the loving relationship exhibited by Don and Andy on The Andy Griffith Show came from their real-life friendship. Both of them grew up in the South during the Great Depression, living in poverty.
Their friendship began when they met as co-stars in the 1958 film adaptation of the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants—and it lasted for the rest of their lives. Andy was with Don at his bedside when Don passed away in 2006. Andy died six years later, at the age of 86.
Andy was really into playing pranks on his co-stars of The Andy Griffith Show. He targeted Don Knotts most of all. Don’s real first name was actually Jesse (which he hated) and Andy loved to tease him about it by calling him “Jess.” This was opposite to the dynamic of the show, however, of which Griffith has said, “By the second episode, I knew that Don should be funny and I should play straight.”
The cast pranked Andy right back, once stealing his shoes. He had to wear his big Sheriff boots home from the studio that day. The good-natured humor from the cast carried over into the tv episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, like in the “Runaway Kid” episode where Opie and his friends pranked Sheriff Taylor by moving his car in front of a fire hydrant, so he would get a ticket.
One of the most memorable aspects of The Andy Griffith Show is its opening credits, with the whistled tune and image of Andy and little Opie on their way to fish. The famous scene was filmed at Franklin Canyon Park, which is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains.
Actor Ronny Howard was only six years old at the time, and was simply not strong enough to throw the stone far enough to land in the lake. After several failed attempts, the assistant director decided to hide a prop man behind a bush. When Opie pretended to toss a rock, the prop man threw it instead. Watch the scene again — you might notice a very subtle lag between Opie’s throw and the resulting splash.