I’ll start by stating matter of factly that The Andy Griffith Show is my go to answer when someone asks me what’s my all time favorite TV Show. But of course I do have plenty of others. Columbo, Seinfeld, Have Gun Will Travel, Sanford and Son, The Twilight Zone and on and on.
But let’s get back to Mayberry.
TV shows proved a great training ground for up and coming actors during the 1950’s and 60’s or a place for aging veterans to make an appearance. While the famed Mayberry didn’t have as many guest bits like westerns and cop shows of the era, there were still a few surprises in store for those that want to go back in time and have a look at just co-starred alongside Andy, Barney and Opie.
Numerous “faces” you’ll be sure to recognize and maybe you’ll even know a few of their names. Even a couple of future Oscar winners pass through the fabled town. Shockingly the one and only James T. Kirk hits the friendly sidewalks in front of Floyd’s Barber Shop in an accidental clash of location shots while filming one of the greatest of all Star Trek episodes, The City On the Edge of Forever alongside Joan Collins.
Among the many fine character players that turned up in an episode or two you’ll spot western regulars Dub Taylor, Arthur Hunnicutt, Edgar Buchanan, R. G. Armstrong and one of my favorite “heavies” of the period, Leo Gordon, in an episode smartly titled, High Noon In Mayberry.
Even Angel Eyes himself, Lee Van Cleef, turned up as a bully picking on another guest star, Jerry Van Dyke.
Semi-regulars who had plenty of film titles under their belt included Denver Pyle, Will Wright and Frank Ferguson. Fans of Universal Monsters will know Ferguson as the owner of MacDougall’s House of Horrors in the now classic Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein released in 1948.
Beauties that hit town include Barbara Eden, Julie Adams, Joyce Jameson and those unforgettable eyes of Susan Oliver that have Andy and Barney eating out of her hand.
Nearing an Oscar for Cool Hand Luke, George Kennedy, made an appearance during his rise to leading man status.
Other character players both of the past and on the rise that paid a visit include Michael J. Pollard, John Dehner, James Best, William Schallert and even one time Number 1 son of Charlie Chan, Keye Luke, made an appearance.
James Westerfield, Jay Novello, Ellen Corby, Hugh Marlowe, Willis Bouchey and a member of the famed John Ford stock company, John Qualen, dropped by town for an early episode.
Hey, that’s Harry Dean Stanton making an appearance in an episode that saw Andy looking for series regular Jack Dodson on an island vacation gone bad.
Old timers like Buddy Ebsen who himself was about to score his own hit, The Beverly Hillbillies, Lillian Bronson and those who were to become well known faces in the years ahead like Rob Reiner, Don Rickles and a personal favorite of mine, Mr. Pat Hingle, stopped by to see Andy and company.
I did say two Oscar winners didn’t I. Would you believe the one and only Jack Nicholson made an appearance as the series wound down?
There were others over the course of the 200 plus episodes and I’d encourage one and all to go and have a look at not just The Andy Griffith show but so many others of the late 1950’s into the early 70’s to rediscover so many fine actors that not only played supporting roles in movies but delivered some fine work via the small screen.
I’ll leave you with a shot of the fan favorite Floyd the Barber played by Howard McNear who appeared in 80 Mayberry episodes and numerous films opposite the likes of Elvis mixed with plenty of Television work. He also did some great vocals guesting on The Flintstones. “Say that’s kind of catchy. A dog is a man’s best friend. I like that.”