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Andy Griffith Once Weighed in on Don Knotts Leaving ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Andy Griffith Once Weighed in on Don Knotts Leaving ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

For five seasons, people tuned into The Andy Griffith Show partly because Griffith and Don Knotts had great chemistry. Griffith’s straight-man Andy Taylor and Knotts’ second-banana Barney Fife could riff off jokes and dialogue with the best of them. Yet when the show finished five seasons, Knotts decided to leave. Sure, Griffith didn’t like to see Knotts go away. Why mess up a good thing when you have it going on?

Back in the 1960s, Griffith, as part of an interview with The Associated Press, had this to say about Knotts leaving. “Sure, I miss Don,” he said, according to MeTV. Griffith, though, stuck to the old show business motto: the show must go on.

“Except for Don Knotts leaving, the show will be about the same,” Griffith said. “We’ve got five shows finished now. Jack Burns played my deputy in one of them and it worked out very well, so he’ll be back for more, I guess.”

Andy Griffith Subbed Out Don Knotts With Jack Burns

Actor-comedian Jack Burns came on to play Warren Ferguson, who replaced Fife. That didn’t work out and Burns was let go before he even finished one season.

One thing about Knotts leaving after five seasons is that The Ghost and Mr. Chicken actor believed Griffith was going to hang it up after five seasons.

And, Griffith, in this interview, said that he hadn’t expected the series to last as long as it did. “I wanted three years of it,” Griffith said. “Then we signed for two more- and I hadn’t thought of staying on because I thought five years was enough. But after that, there was nothing else I particularly wanted to do, so now we’re here for another season, and if it still goes well, perhaps even another.”

Lead Actor Still Enjoyed Playing Sheriff

Griffith appeared happy to still be playing Sheriff Taylor. But he also was cognizant of his audience and how they see the show every week. “The audience really sees the show through my eyes, and I come up at the end to wrap it up,” he said.

Let’s spend a little time on Knotts. For his work on the show, Knotts captured Emmy Awards. Knotts came from the world of variety shows. He’d previously been part of a troupe of actors and comedians used by Steve Allen. Knotts worked with Griffith on stage and in film for No Time for Sergeants.

As we said, Knotts left after five seasons. If he’d known that Griffith was going to stay with the show longer, then Knotts would probably have stayed a little longer, too. He enjoyed working with Griffith a whole lot.