Has There Ever Been a More Beloved Show on TV? ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Turns 50, And the Crowds Still Turn Out For ‘Mayberry Days’

October 6, 2010

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“The Andy Griffith Show” signed on Oct. 3, 1960. It went on to become one of TV’s all-time successes and a career changer for Griffith (who was trying to live down his all-too-memorable performance as a drunken, angry broadcaster in “A Face in the Crowd”). Ted Turner showed it constantly on TBS, and the Griffith mojo blessed many a television manager in decades of reruns. The theme song [which was filmed by a pond in Franklin Canyon near Beverly Hills] was especially memorable, and has inspired a lot of love since [including this fun contemporary mash-up]…

The show also immortalized Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., on which the mythic town of Mayberry was modeled.

andygriffith.jpgNeil Engle is a pastor in Overland Park, Kansas, who has been traveling to Mount Airy for the annual Mayberry Days for the past 15 years. I first heard from him in 2006 after he won an auction for a squad car sold by a local resident, Tom Hellebrand, who wanted to build a Barney Fife statue in honor of Don Knotts, who had died earlier that year. The statue became a bit of a fiasco — the Knotts widow said she wouldn’t mind a statue, but one of Don, not Barney — and so did the car, which broke down on the way home. Engle got the car towed back to Kansas and subsequently restored it with help from church members.

Thousands of visitors attend Mayberry Days every year and crowd into the stores with the very familiar names, pose with actors who played characters on the show, and rub elbows with people who kinda look like the original stars. “Much of the time is spent just walking the streets of Mt. Airy-seeing other fans, and enjoying the tribute artists that dress up as TAGS characters,” writes Engle.

“A Mayberry Days ‘must’ is having a fried porked chop sandwich at the Snappy Lunch-the restaurant where Andy ate baloney sandwiches as a kid, and the only original Mt. Airy restaurant mentioned in an episode. People wait up to two hours to get in and have one! I only had to wait 45 minutes for mine on Friday. It’s also customary to poke your head in at Floyd’s Barbershop. At the local movie theater, episodes of TAGS are shown and then a cast member involved in those episodes do a Q and A.

“I also toured the new Andy Griffith museum. Andy’s friend Emmett Forest has over the years received items/memorabilia from Andy and others, and has brought it together into a new museum.”

(Thank you Mr. Naidus for the YouTube)

7 Comment

  1. Yes, Ted Turner showed it constantly on TBS for years and celebrated the affection so many viewers had for it, until management and philosophical changes deemed it too lowbrow for the network. Strictly speaking it wasn’t a mistake exactly, not in terms of ratings, but it was a misstep and a profound misread of what a powerful and amazing show TAGS was and is. Congrats to all connected with the show and to all who still love it!

  2. I’ve watched the reruns for years and love them! This year I did my first canning ever – Pickles – and I’m proud to say I didn’t have any kerosene cukes as Barney said about Aunt Bea’s attempt at pickles!

  3. Always liked Andy until I heard from reliable sources how much of a jerk he is. He proved it when he came out for BO’s health plan. He’s not Mayberry. Just chasing a buck.

  4. Always loved andy until he starting shilling for obamacare and the corrupt aarp. Now, I can’t stand the sight of him. The idea that he’s using his folksy, good natured ‘sheriff’ character to convince seniors that 0care will be good for them sickens me.

  5. I wonder if today Ron Howard could find
    the exact location of the Andy Griffith Show opening where he picked up the stone and threw it into the pond – Franklin Canyon, or, was it Griffith Park? It would be great if he could re-enact the show’s opening.

  6. If only we had this kind of Television now. Andy was perfect for his role, and he had a lot of sense, that might not be considered PC now. I watched a couple days ago, where he recommended sending the bad little boy out behind the woodshed. He deserved it too and he knew he did. Love the reruns still. There were some great actors, and Aunt Bee was so sweet, and was “everyone’s” Aunt.

  7. According to Griffith “Aunt Bea” didn’t care much for him.

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