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Andy Griffith Show

 TV Roles
Griffith's first appearance on television was as the star in the original (1955) adaptation of No Time for Sergeants on The United States Steel Hour, the first of 2 appearances on the show. Griffith has also made other character appearances on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Mayberry R.F.D., The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman, Fantasy Island, among many others. He also reprised his role as Ben Matlock on Diagnosis: Murder in 1997, and his final guest-starring role to date has been an episode of Dawson's Creek.

The Andy Griffith Show
Before The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith appeared as a county sheriff (who was also justice-of-the-peace. This episode, in which Thomas's character is stopped for speeding in the little town of Mayberry, served as a backdoor pilot for Griffith's own show. Both shows were produced by Sheldon Leonard.

 Griffith starred in his own series called The Andy Griffith Show, beginning in 1960, for CBS, alongside other successful 1960s family sitcoms that dealt with widowhood, such as: My Three Sons, Family Affair, Beulah, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Lucy Show, Julia, The Courtship of Eddie's Father and The Brady Bunch.

Andy Samuel Griffith (born June 1, 1926) is an American actor, producer, writer, director and southern gospel singer.

 He gained prominence in the starring role of Elia Kazan's epic film A Face in the Crowd before he was better known for his television roles, playing the title characters in the 1960s sitcom,

The Andy Griffith Show, for CBS and in the 1980s and 1990s legal drama, Matlock, on NBC and later ABC.

Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005.

Co-starring on the show was character actor, comedian and longtime friend of Griffith's, Don Knotts. Knotts played the role of Taylor's best friend and partner, Deputy Barney Fife, from 1960 to 1965. Also starring on The Andy Griffith Show was a child actor, Ron Howard (then known as Ronny Howard), who played the role of Taylor's only son, Opie Taylor.
The show took place in Mayberry, where Griffith's character, Andy Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage. It was an immediate hit. Though Griffith never received a writing credit for the show, he worked on the development of every script. While Knotts was frequently lauded and won multiple Emmy awards for his comedic performances, Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy during the show's run.

 In 1967, Griffith was under contract with CBS to do one more season of the show. But Griffith decided to quit the show to pursue a movie career and other projects. The series continued as Mayberry R.F.D., for which Griffith served as executive producer and guest starred in five episodes

Don returned to West Virginia University after being demobilized. After graduating with a degree in theater in 1948, he married and moved back to New York, where connections he had made while in the Special Services Branch helped him break into show business. In addition to doing stand-up comedy at clubs, he appeared on the radio, eventually playing the character Windy Wales on "The Bobby Benson Show". From 1953 to 1955, he was a regular on the soap opera "Search for Tomorrow." Destiny intervened when he was cast in the small role of the psychiatrist in the Broadway play "No Time For Sergeants," which starred Andy Griffith, who would play a large part in Don's future career. Don also appeared in the film adaption of the play with Griffith.

During the 1970s Don had a spotty career, appearing in regional theater and making guest appearances on other TV shows. He eventually made some slapstick movies with Tim Conway for the Walt Disney Co., but it wasn't until the end of the decade that he tasted real success again. He was cast as would-be-swinger landlord Ralph Furley on the popular TV-sitcom "Three's Company" (1977) after the original landlords, The Ropers, were spun off into their own series. Since the show was canceled in 1984, he appeared as Barney Fife for a 1986 reunion of "The Andy Griffith Show" and in TV guest spots, including a recurring gig as the pesky neighbor Les Calhoun on Griffith's "Matlock" (1986) series until 1992.

He remained busy for the next ten years touring with plays and doing voice-over work for cartoons. In 2005, Don provided the voice of Mayor Turkey Lurkey in Disney's animated film Chicken Little (2005). It turned out to be one of his final films. He died on February 24, 2006.

Jesse Donald Knotts

Don Knotts, the legendary television character actor, was born Jesse Donald Knotts on July 21, 1924, in Morgantown, West Virginia, to William Jesse Knotts and the former Elsie L. Moore. He was the youngest of four sons in a family that had been in America since the 17th century.

His first stint as an entertainer was as a ventriloquist, performing paid gigs at parties and other events in Morganstown. He decided to make a stab at a career in show business, moving to New York City after graduating from high school, but he only lasted in the Big Apple for a few weeks. He decided to go to college, enrolling at West Virginia University, but when World War II engulfed America, he enlisted in the army. The 19-year-old soldier was assigned to the Special Services Branch, where he entertained the troops. It was while in the army that Don ditched ventriloquism for straight comedy.

Don's big break before he hooked up again with Andy Griffith was a regular gig on the "The Steve Allen Show" (1956) hosted by Steve Allen, starting in 1956. He became well-known for his "nervous man" shtick in the "Man-on-the-Street" segments that were a staple of Allen's show. His character in the segments was a very nervous man obviously uptight about being interviewed on camera. He developed this into the fidgety, high-strung persona that he used successfully for the rest of his career.

When "The Tonight Show" moved to Hollywood in 1959 with new host Jack Paar, Don also moved to California as a regular. However, he was soon cast in Andy Griffith's new TV series about a small-town sheriff, "The Andy Griffith Show" (1960), in the role that would make him a legend. For playing Deputy Barney Fife, Don was nominated for an Emmy Award for Best Supporting Actor five times from 1961 to 1967, winning each time.

He soon tasted big-screen success, starring in The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964). Don cut back his appearances on "The Andy Griffith Show" to concentrate on making movies after signing a five-year contract with Universal Pictures. For Universal, Don appeared in The Ghost and Mr. Chicken (1966), The Reluctant Astronaut (1967), The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968), The Love God? (1969) and How to Frame a Figg (1971). His mid-'60s popularity as a movie comedian began to wane towards the end of the decade, and the contract was not renewed. Don returned to TV as the star of his own variety show, but it was quickly canceled.

1924 - 2006

Town of Mayberry

"40 Acres"
The Lost Studio Backlot
of Movie & Television Fame
(circa 1926-1976)
"40 Acres" is the misnomer that was given to what was actually about 29 acres of land made into a movie studio backlot circa 1926 by RKO-Pathe studios in Culver City California. Pictured right in an aerial view from 1958, the backlot by this year had served as the primary outdoor filming location for Hollywood classics such as King Kong (1933) and Gone With The Wind (1939), and at this point in time, had just changed ownership to Desilu Studios. For the next ten years, the backlot would provide outdoor locales for Desilu's own television productions, as well as for series produced by others, the most notable of all being The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968), for which the streets of Atlanta constructed for Gone With The Wind served as the town of "Mayberry." Paramount Pictures eventually bought out Desilu, and in 1968, sold off the Culver City studio facilities. As the studio continued to change hands, the "40 Acres" backlot fell out of use and into disrepair in the early 1970's, and in 1976 it was bulldozed and the land was sold to industry.