Archive for the ‘"Andy Griffith Show"’ Category

Remembering Andy Griffith

Tuesday, July 3rd, 2012

The Archive is sad to report that actor Andy Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 86. Griffith was best known for his role as “Sheriff Andy Taylor” in The Andy Griffith Show, and also enjoyed success playing the title role in Matlock from 1986-1995. Griffith was also a Grammy winner and talented comedian and singer.

Here are some selections from his 1998 Archive interview:

On his early comedy routines:

On the play “No Time For Sergeants”:

On how The Andy Griffith Show got started:

On the genesis of Matlock:

On the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show:

Watch Andy Griffith’s full Archive interview

Read his obituary in the Huffington Post

Andy Griffith turns 85!

Wednesday, June 1st, 2011

Wishing a very happy 85th birthday to TV legend Andy Griffith!

Andy Griffith, who was born on June 1, 1926, began his long career with the now-classic comedy bit, “What it was, was football” and then garnered his first success on Broadway in “No Time for Sergeants.” The two hits led to many appearances on live TV shows, including U.S. Steel Hour, The Steve Allen Show, and Playhouse 90. A guest appearance on The Danny Thomas Show served as the pilot for the eight-season run of The Andy Griffith Show. He continued to star in many TV and film productions including his successful crime series, Matlock.

The town of Mayberry featured in The Andy Griffith Show stemmed from Griffith’s own hometown of Mt. Airy, NC. In Archive his interview he notes:

“At first, producer Sheldon Leonard didn’t want it to be in North Carolina. He just wanted it to be somewhere in the south. And I hate these made up names. So we did have Mt. Pilot which there is a place called Pilot Mountain up near Mt. Airy, but I gradually started slipping in real towns in North Carolina like Asheville and Raleigh and Silver City. And so it became during that first year, it became a town in North Carolina.”

Here’s a special video (edited by Steve Wyant) of selections from Andy Griffith’s Archive of American Television 1998 interview:

Jeffrey Hayden Interview Now Online

Monday, March 21st, 2011

Interview Description:

In his Archive interview, Jeffrey Hayden talks about his career as an associate director in the first years of the ABC-TV network (1948-50) and as a prolific director of comedy and drama series from the 1950s to the 1980s, including: The Donna Reed Show; The Andy Griffith Show; 77 Sunset Strip; Peyton Place; Quincy M.E.; Palmerstown, U.S.A.; and Knight Rider.  Hayden outlines how he came to produce one of the earliest sitcoms The Billy Bean Show (with Arnold Stang), before he began his work as a director gaining experience on such programs as the variety series The Bert Parks Show and quiz/variety show The Big Payoff.  He talks about his acceptance into the Actors Studio and its influence on his work, and notes throughout the interview the importance of rehearsal and improvisation to his directing style. Among dramatic series, he comments on the Philco-Goodyear Playhouse (and a memorable production he did with a difficult James Dean), 77 Sunset Strip (and the rewrites he’d do with the cast during lunch hour, despite network warnings to stick to the script), and The Lloyd Bridges Show (which he describes as one of the most arduous directing jobs of his career). He speaks fondly of his years on The Donna Reed Show, working with writer-producer Paul West who incorporated some of Hayden’s own family life into scripts and The Andy Griffith Show, a reunion with Griffith whom Hayden knew from his college days.  For Peyton Place, Hayden notes his working relationship with breakout stars Ryan O’Neal and Mia Farrow (and the dramatic real-life moment when Farrow decided to cut her hair short mid-season).  Among the other personalities he discusses are: E. G. Marshall (The Bold Ones), Peter Deuel (Alias Smith and Jones), Raymond Burr (Ironside), and Jack Klugman (Quincy, M.E.).  Additionally for Quincy, Hayden discusses memorable episodes: “Seldom Silent, Never Heard,” that influenced the passing of the Orphan Drug Act (ODA) and “Nowhere to Run,” whose incest storyline hampered actor Charles Aidman’s career.  He recounts the challenges he faced working on the series The Incredible Hulk, Knight Rider, and Palmerstown U.S.A. (this series led to a DGA rule about providing drivers to locations). Lastly, he acknowledged his satisfying work on daytime soaps Capitol and Santa Barbara (a return to the kind of work he did in his “live” TV days) and on two documentaries he made in the 1990s. Jeffrey Hayden was interviewed in Los Angeles, CA on April 29, 2010; Stephen Bowie conducted the two-and-a-half-hour interview.

“The Andy Griffith Show” 50th Anniversary

Friday, October 1st, 2010

After a pilot episode aired on The Danny Thomas Show (“Danny Meets Andy Griffith,” airdate: 2/15/60), The Andy Griffith Show landed on CBS’ following fall schedule, debuting on October 3, 1960. It led to a group of successful “rural-themed” sitcoms (The Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres) that populated the CBS schedule through the ’60s.  Nominated for several Emmy Awards, it brought five consecutive Emmys to ensemble player Don Knotts (as “Barney Fife”), but surprisingly Andy Griffith never saw a nomination.  Perhaps this resulted from Griffith’s own realization early on that his character, Sheriff Andy Taylor, should not be played for laughs, but remain the voice of reason among the off-center denizens of Mayberry.  Mayberry itself became the center of the show and landed in the pop culture annuls— leading audiences to believe it was a real town (as noted in The Musuem of Broadcast Communications’ Encyclopedia of Television, “over the years the writers fleshed out the geography and character of the town with a degree of detail unusual for series television.”)  The Andy Griffith Show was followed by two spin-offs (Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. and Mayberry R.F.D.) and a highly-rated reunion TV movie Return to Mayberry (1986).  Andy Griffith was later seen on Matlock, Don Knotts on Three’s Company, and little Ronny Howard was just getting started when he starred in follow-ups The Smith Family and Happy Days.  Andy Griffith, now 84 years old, has recently appeared in such feature films as Waitress (2007) and Play the Game (2008).

“I knew that Don should be the comic and I should play straight for him.  And that made all the difference.  All the difference.  Then Mayberry became a living town.” — Andy Griffith

“Mayberry was a little town of yesterday… where everybody knew everybody, and it was full of these funny characters.” — Don Knotts

“Andy used to say that even though we’re making the show in the ’60s, Mayberry is really the town I grew up in the ’40s.  So there was something nostalgic about it already.  It wasn’t trying to be current.  It more reflected his memory of the south that he grew up in.” — Ron Howard

The Archive of American Television interviewed many of the talents behind The Andy Griffith Show, including a rare interview with executive producer Sheldon Leonard (1907-97) in 1996.  Among the many others featured on the Archive’s The Andy Griffith Show show page, include: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, Howard Morris, Elinor Donahue, producer Aaron Ruben, writer Everett Greenbaum, composer Earle Hagen (who not only composed the theme, but whistled it, too!), and director Richard Crenna.

“Andy Griffith Show” Producer Aaron Ruben Has Died

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Aaron Ruben, who produced The Andy Griffith Show and was Emmy-nominated for Sanford and Son, has died at the age of 95. Ruben began his career as a writer in radio, transitioning to television with series and specials that included Caesar’s Hour; in his early career he also directed for television, notably for The Phil Silvers Show. One of his last producing credits was the sitcom Too Close for Comfort. In his later years, Ruben was a court appointed children’s advocate.

Aaron Ruben was interviewed by the Archive of American Television on February 25, 1999. His four-and-a-half hour Archive interview is currently available to view online.

“I’m certainly proud to have been at the beginnings of The Andy Griffith Show. Andy gives me more credit than I deserve because he’s quoted about how I set the style for that show. I don’t know. I’m just glad I was there and was an important part of the structuring of the show. I nurtured it and nursed it and I thought I took really good care of it. It was five of the best years of my life in the business.”

Interview Description

Aaron Ruben was interviewed for four-and-a-half hours in Beverly Hills, CA. Ruben discussed his start as a radio writer for many popular stars including Dinah Shore, Burns and Allen, Fred Allen, Henry Morgan, and Milton Berle. He talked about the first time he worked in television on The Sam Levenson Show with Selma Diamond, and his television directorial debut on The Phil Silvers Show. He spoke about his transition to producing, starting with the now-classic series The Andy Griffith Show. Mr. Ruben talked about other television shows he produced including Gomer Pyle, USMC; Sanford and Son; CPO Sharkey; and Matlock.

"Andy Griffith Show" Theme Composer Earle Hagen Has Died at the Age of 88

Tuesday, May 27th, 2008

Earle Hagen, who composed (and whistled) The Andy Griffith Show theme, has died. The accomplished composer also wrote the memorable Dick Van Dyke Show theme music and won an Emmy Award for I Spy.

Earle Hagen was interviewed by TV’s Biggest Hits author Jon Burlingame in 1997. His entire five hour interview can be viewed here.

Interview description:

Mr. Hagen described the pleasure of working with producers Sheldon Leonard and Danny Thomas, and creating the themes, as well as writing the music for: The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, I Spy, and Mod Squad, to name a few.

Sheldon Leonard’s Full Archive Interview is Now Online!

Monday, August 6th, 2007

Television legend Sheldon Leonard (1907-97) was one of the first people interviewed when the Archive of American Television began its pilot project in 1996.


Leonard was the executive producer of such classic television series as The Danny Thomas Show/Make Room for Daddy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, and I Spy. He won two Emmy Awards— as director of Make Room for Daddy in 1961 and as producer of My World, and Welcome To It in 1970. In 1995 he was named an Honorary Life Member of the Directors Guild of America for his long-time services to the DGA as treasurer.

Click here to access Sheldon Leonard’s full Archive of American Television interview.

Interview description:

Producer/director/creator/writer Sheldon Leonard (1907-97) was interviewed for two-and-a-half hours in Beverly Hills, CA. Not only is Leonard’s interview significant to the Archive because of his death just six months after the interview, but because of the warmth, candor and vivid storytelling apparent throughout the interview. Leonard shared his fondest memories about the pioneering programs he produced such as The Danny Thomas Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, and I Spy. He also spoke highly of the talented group of people he worked with like Danny Thomas, Mary Tyler Moore, Bill Cosby, Dick Van Dyke, Carl Reiner and Andy Griffith. The interview was conducted by Sam Denoff on July 11, 1996.