The leading man’s first love interest on the show, however, wasn’t feeling the love and wanted out.
Here’s what happened, in her own words.
Andy Taylor never got married on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
Andy Griffith’s character on the show, Andy Taylor, remained a bachelor during the entirety of the series. (He did, however, get married to his longtime girlfriend Helen Crump in the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show‘s follow-up series, Mayberry R.F.D.)
In The Andy Griffith Show Book by Richard Kelly, “Howard Sprague” actor Jack Dodson explained why the show’s writers kept just about all the characters single and available.
“It is a tremendous hindrance to the writer to have married characters because it deprives the writer of the freedom to create circumstances,” the book reported Dodson as saying. “A character needs to move from one environment to another, and he would not always be believable if he were married.”
The actor cast as Andy Griffith’s 1st romance on the show
Elinor Donahue, who began her career as a child, explained in a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television how she came to be cast in 1960 on The Andy Griffith Show.
“I was called in to the office to meet with the producers, went home that afternoon and found out I had the part. And I didn’t read or anything. I didn’t know that much about it except that I was going to be in the show with Andy Griffith,” Donahue said.
Donahue joined the cast in its first season playing Ellie Walker, the town’s new pharmacist, or “lady druggist” as she’s referred to on the comedy. Ellie arrives to Mayberry having taken over the drugstore from her uncle and subsequently forms a romantic attachment to the town’s sheriff, Andy Taylor.
Donahue asked to be released from her contract
Continuing in her conversation with the Archive of American Television, Donahue revealed that “it didn’t really work out.”
“I did 11 episodes, just there for the first season. I had a three-year contract. When we’d taken a break for the hiatus, I asked to be let out of the contract.”
Born in Washington state in 1937, Donahue was a young actor who simply felt she was not doing “my best work” in the role.
“I was going through some personal problems at the time and I needed some time,” she revealed. “I’d gone directly from Father Knows Best to having a couple of months of turmoil in my personal life that was not settled at all. It was an ongoing whirlwind. And then went right into [The Andy Griffith Show]. I was exhausted.”
Despite leaving the show, Donahue had no ill feelings toward the producers or cast. She did, however, express feeling “hurt” that they didn’t ask her to stay.
Asked if she would have stayed if they had asked, Donahue said, “Probably. I badly needed in that period someone to want me, to like me a lot. It was a tough time.”