The Only Person Who Could Make Andy Griffith Really, Really Laugh
Andy Griffith, the face of The Andy Griffith Show, will go down in history as one of television’s funniest personalities. But who made the comedian laugh?
According to Ron Howard (who played Opie), no one made Griffith laugh more than Don Knotts. Read on for a look at the co-stars’ special bond.
How Andy Griffith and Don Knotts came to be friends
Griffith and Knotts came from similar backgrounds, so it didn’t take long for them to become fast friends.
“They were two Southern guys with similar backgrounds, stories, and childhoods, so they were drawn to each other instantly,” Daniel de Visé, author of Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, told Closer. “They could talk about things like mumblety-peg, a silly old game, and seeing preachers in tents on weekends.”
Knotts and Griffith actually met on the set of No Time for Sergeants. But they became close when Knotts played deputy Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show. On set, Griffith could always count on Knotts to make him laugh.
“Andy was the world’s greatest audience for Don,” Howard told Closer. “Don had Andy literally in tears once a week.”
Andy Griffith would play pranks on Don Knotts when they weren’t filming
Griffith is known for being a prankster. And Knotts was often the perfect victim.
“Don would be exhausted, so he’d nap on a cot in the sheriff’s office,” de Visé told the publication. “Andy would drop a film canister loudly onto the linoleum floor and wake Don up and just howl with laughter.”
But don’t let Griffith’s love of pranks let you believe he was anything but professional when it came time to actually film.
“He said, ‘If you do all your preparation, the rest of the day we can laugh and carry on,’” said Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle). “Oh, golly, we laughed a lot.”
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts after ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
In 1986, Griffith created another TV character that took the world by storm: Atlanta attorney Ben Matlock of Matlock. On the set of Matlock, Griffith got to reunite with Knotts whenever he guest-starred.
“It was like they never skipped a beat,” said Nancy Stafford (Michelle Thomas). “They fell into this routine of singing, laughing and telling jokes.”
Just as Matlock was coming to a close, Griffith moved back to North Carolina, where he was happiest. But, in 2006 when he learned Knotts was dying in Los Angeles of pneumonia, he rushed to be by his old friend’s side.