The fictional town of Mayberry was the setting for the popular series The Andy Griffith Show, and viewers loved its image of small-town simplicity. But although the stories of Mayberry were straightforward, behind the scenes there were a few secrets. Not all of them were happy ones, but at least one episode had a subtle, sweet nod to a real-life love story.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ has been loved for decades
As The Atlantic explains, Andy Griffith played Sheriff Andy Taylor on the show, a widower who had relocated to the peaceful town of Mayberry to raise his son Opie. The show captured the easy pace of small-town life that already seemed endangered when it premiered in 1960. It definitely struck a chord with viewers, so much so that it’s been on the air constantly ever since it began.
As a very eligible bachelor, Sheriff Andy sometimes went on dates with single women of Mayberry. None of these relationships seemed to lead anywhere, though. It looked as though Andy was ultimately married to his job.
In real life, though, Griffith did have a wife. And eagle-eyed viewers even caught a quick glimpse of her in one episode. What’s more, the scene she appeared in was a subtle reference to the couple’s history together.
Andy and Barbara Griffith
According to MeTV, Griffith had originally planned to work as a preacher when he graduated from high school. When he started college, however, he met Barbara Edwards. She was a singer, and she must have been pretty enchanting because shortly after that, he switched majors to study music.
When Griffith graduated with a music degree in 1949, he and Barbara got married. The couple saved their money for a few years then moved to New York City to pursue a career in music. Unfortunately, Griffith didn’t get a very good response from his auditions, and he and Barbara returned to North Carolina.
The couple continued to pursue work in show business, though, working up an act that they performed at community centers all over the state. Eventually, Griffith’s comedy bit called “What It Was, Was Football,” garnered him enough attention to help him break into acting.
Ten years later, Griffith was starring in the show that was named after him, and he took the opportunity to wink at his history with Barbara.
She appeared in only one episode
The single episode that Barbara appeared in occurred during season four of The Andy Griffith Show. The episode was called “The Song Festers.” In this storyline, Barney was trying — and failing — to get a handle on the tenor part in the Mayberry Choir. Fortunately for Barney and for the choir’s audience, Gomer Pyle saves the day with his unexpectedly beautiful singing voice.
Standing next to Barney as he struggled with the music was a new face in the choir. She was only known by her first name, Sharon, and she had one single line, spoken to the choir director: “I’m sorry, Mr. Masters.”
Sharon was played by Barbara, and her performance in the choir was a reminder of her singing days when they were both studying at university, when she won the charming Griffith’s heart and help set him on the road to success.
Sadly, the couple got divorced in 1972, after 23 years of marriage. Just eight years later, at the age of 53, Barbara passed away. Despite this sad end to their love story, they had a lot of years together, and one sweet episode of The Andy Griffith Show as a reminder of where they started.