‘The Andy Griffith Show’: This Girlfriend of Andy’s Had a Tragic Life After Leaving the Show

In the happy town of Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show, relationships for the most part were peaceful, contention-free bonds. And when misunderstandings arose, they were quickly resolved.

Reality, of course, is always less harmonious and more fraught with friction than a 22-minute situation comedy script.

For one of the actors who portrayed Andy Taylor’s girlfriend on the Griffith Show, the reality of her life was nothing like Mayberry and ended sadly.

Actor Andy Griffith dressed as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the set of 'The Andy Griffith Show,'  1960
Actor Andy Griffith dressed as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the set of ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ 1960 | CBS via Getty Images

Joanna Moore loved working on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Moore arrived in Mayberry in the show’s third season, portraying the blonde and pretty town nurse Peggy McMillan who dated the sheriff for four episodes.

In 1962, the actor shared with the Akron Beacon Journal her delight in being part of the cast of not only a hit show, but a hit show with easy-to-work-with actors.

“I liked the Griffith show better than anything else I’ve ever done,” she said. “Everyone on the program is so nice. The show is well organized and there is no rush. The people discuss their problems openly and the difficulties just seem to disappear. I was shocked by the honesty on that show, but it was a refreshing kind of honesty.”

Headshot of actor Joanna Moore who played Nurse Peggy in 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Actor Joanna Moore who played Nurse Peggy in ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ |
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

She is mom to Oscar-winning actor Tatum O’Neal

In 1963, Moore married actor Ryan O’Neal who eventually became nominated for an Oscar for the 1970s film Love Story. That same year, she gave birth to their daughter, Tatum O’Neal. The pair divorced in 1967.

At the age of 9 in 1973, Tatum became (and as of now still is) the youngest actor to earn the golden statuette for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Addie Loggins in the film Paper Moon. Tatum starred in the film alongside her father Ryan.

She told The Guardian in 2011 that she keeps her Oscar “just in the other room on a shelf. It’s not glowing or anything.”

Actor Tatum O'Neal, left, with her mother actor Joanna Moore in 1981
Actor Tatum O’Neal, left, with her mother actor Joanna Moore in 1981 | Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

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Moore’s life changed dramatically after ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

After the Griffith Show, the actor continued appearing in guest roles on shows such as My Three Sons, Peyton Place, on which she met O’Neal, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Route 66, The Fugitive, The Virginian, and McCloud. She began to excessively use alcohol and drugs after her split from O’Neal.

Her depression worsening from her divorce, Moore was arrested for drunk driving in 1971 after she and her children, Tatum, 9, and Griffin, 7, visited their father. Following her arrest, Moore lost custody of both children.

Actor Tatum O’Neal, daughter of Joanna Moore

Tatum, in the late 1970s with a flourishing career of her own, financially cared for her mother, whose unhealthy use of drugs and alcohol persisted.

She died in 1997 with her daughter by her side. Tatum, in her 2011 memoir Found, wrote of her relationship with Moore, “I was a daughter who needed her mother to be sober. I never got that gift. My mother was a kind, loving woman, my angel, and I have long understood and forgiven her failings, but the truth of the matter is that she never got sober, and I never saw her try.”

Tatum, who has also struggled with sobriety, learned from her mother’s experience and says, “I know there must be a reason I have this particular life, and I am grateful for all that it has given me. I am truly blessed.”