Premier of an American Classic, The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor and Ron Howard as Opie Taylor on the set of The Andy Griffith Show.

On October 3, 1960, the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show aired on CBS Television. The program starred Mount Airy native Andy Griffith and focused on life in the fictional community of Mayberry, North Carolina, said to be have been modeled after Griffith’s hometown.

Already a Broadway, radio and film actor, Griffith landed the role of Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show wherein the sheriff arrested Thomas’s character for running a stop sign. Eight months after the Danny Thomas episode aired featuring the character, The Andy Griffith Show debuted.

Filmed at Desilu Studios in California, the wholesome half-hour show featured the small-town antics of the widowed Sheriff Taylor, his bumbling deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), son Opie (Ron Howard), spinster housekeeper Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and other colorful Mayberry characters.

Unlike most comedic sitcom stars, Griffith played the straight man role.

Neither Griffith nor the show won awards during its eight seasons, but co-stars Knotts and Bavier received a combined total of six Emmys. When The Andy Griffith Show ended in 1968, it was the number-one ranked show on television. Many of its 249 episodes still appear in syndication.

More on TV in North Carolina’s history is available on NCpedia.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts, nature and culture, visit DNCR online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.