‘The Andy Griffith Show’: The 2 Series Regulars Who Went On to Have Their Own Shows
The Andy Griffith Show boasted a crackerjack ensemble cast that made the town of Mayberry seem so authentic, audiences wanted to visit and stay.
While all of the actors involved with the comedy brought their unique talent to their roles, only two of the show’s cast members went on to front their own individual series.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ premiered in 1960
Debuting in 1960, the classic comedy stayed on the air until 1968. With Andy Griffith as the sheriff of the town of Mayberry, the series remained a ratings success.
Author Richard Kelly discussed the series’ success despite its lack of car chases or heavily romantic scenes in his 1981 book, The Andy Griffith Show. “The reruns of The Andy Griffith Show, which began in 1964, are still among the most watched daytime shows in the country,” he wrote.
“It is astonishing to think that a series with no sex and no violence has captured the hearts and imaginations of millions of viewers.”
Andy Griffith left his own show in 1968
In its eighth season in 1968, Griffith had been holding down the show’s fort without Don Knotts for three years and had done the most with the show that could be done, as he told the Archive of American Television in 1998.
“[Barney Fife actor Don Knotts] was gone, and the show had gone into color from black and white,” Griffith said. “And it was getting like a regular situation comedy. And I was afraid I wasn’t holding up my end of it any longer. Also, I wanted to try my wings outside.”
Griffith’s longtime manager, Richard Linke, remarked to book author Kelly, “Andy had gotten to the point where he was physically and mentally tired and felt he couldn’t add any more to the character,” he said.
Don Knotts and Jim Nabors had their own shows after ‘Andy Griffith’
In 1965, Don Knotts left the Griffith show, he said, because the show’s star had always told him he was ending the show after five seasons. He didn’t end the show but Knotts by that time was enormously successful and in demand for feature films. Knotts signed a five-film contract with Universal Studios at that time.
Five years after leaving, he hosted his own prime-time variety show, The Don Knotts Show on NBC. The program failed to impress with its ratings and was cancelled at the end of its first season.
The other Andy Griffith Show alum to front their own show was Jim Nabors, which was of course Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. on CBS.
Nabors stayed only from 1962 to 1964 on The Andy Griffith Show because of his great appeal. Griffith knew if the talented Nabors wasn’t given his own show, he would probably get snatched up by another network, as he said in his interview.
“I went into [executive producer Aaron Ruben’s] office and I said, ‘Aaron, we’d better do something for Jim Nabors. Because he’s about to bust out and somebody’s going to if we don’t,” Griffith said.
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. was a comedy series created specifically for Nabors, placing the naive Pyle in a military setting. It lasted five seasons, starting in 1964.
Nabors as well was given his own variety show, The Jim Nabors Hour, on CBS from 1969 to 1971.