‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Cast: Andy Griffith Teased Don Knotts About His Real Name

The Andy Griffith Show is an iconic TV series. The program’s most famous duo? None other than Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) and Barney Fife (Don Knotts). Friends both on and off camera, Griffith and Knotts had no problems joking on set. That’s how Griffith came to tease his co-star about his real name.

Don Knotts starred in 5 seasons of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ 

Don Knotts (1924 - 2006) as Deputy Barney Fife and Andy Griffith (right) as Sheriff Andy Taylor in a scene from the television series 'The Andy Griffith Show', circa 1965.
Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife and Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor in a scene from The Andy Griffith Show | CBS Photo Archive/Archive Photos/Getty Images

When he heard his friend would be playing a sheriff in his own show, Knotts called up Griffith and asked if he needed a deputy. The rest is history. The Andy Griffith Show premiered in 1960 with Griffith as a widower raising his young son, Opie Taylor (Ron Howard). There to offer support and plenty of laughs was Fife. 

Knotts eventually left The Andy Griffith Show after five seasons. But it wasn’t because he was unhappy with the series or his co-stars. His departure happened as a result of a miscommunication between him and Griffith. 

“I left because Andy said he would never do the show more than five years,” Knotts explained in a 1999 interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “I had a five-year contract and during the fifth season I thought ‘I better start looking around for more work.'”

He continued, saying he got an offer. When Griffith decided to move on with the sitcom, Knotts made the decision to leave for film roles.

“I wound up getting an offer from Universal to do movies and do my own pictures,” he said. “And then Andy suddenly said he was going to stay on another two or three years. I hadn’t signed but I had said I would and I had focused all my attention in that direction and I don’t know, I just went ahead.” 

“It was a tough time for me because I enjoyed the show so much that I hated to leave,” he added. “I never expected it to go on.”

The Andy Griffith Show continued for another three seasons. During that time, Knotts returned to Mayberry as a guest star on two occasions. 

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Andy Griffith called Don Knotts by his real name to upset him

According to Daniel de Visé’s book, Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, Griffith learned Knotts hated his real name, and from that moment on, that’s all he called him.

“We spent every day together,” Griffith said. “We’d sit side by side, talk or not talk. Every day. And one day he admitted that his full name was Jesse Donald Knotts. And he hated his first name. Well, I’ve always had a mean streak, and I started calling him Jess.” 

At that point, Knotts already called his co-star by “Ange,” his childhood nickname. In time, Griffith and Knotts referred to each other by their nicknames only and it stayed that way until death.

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What streaming service has ‘The Andy Griffith Show’?

Unfortunately for Netflix users, The Andy Griffith Show isn’t on the streamer at the time of publication. It’s not on Hulu either but it is on Amazon Prime Video. Anyone with a subscription to the streamer has access to every season. Another option is to watch the program on Tubi for free.

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