12 surprising things we learned about Andy Griffith from a 1979 interview

Few others would drive a Rolls Royce and eat peanut butter with mayonnaise.

Image: The Everett Collection

On both The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, Andy Griffith played charming Southern gentlemen. Between those two hit series, however, the actor tried on a variety of hats. In the 1970s especially, the North Carolina native tried to shake his image. He played sociopaths and alcoholics in numerous made-for-TV movies. He was an educator in The Headmaster. After that flopped, he attempted to reboot his wholesomeness with The New Andy Griffith Show.

In the late '70s, as Star Wars was all the rage, he joined the crowd and went to outer space. Salvage 1 remains one of the more fascinating and overlooked Andy Griffith television projects. "I wanna build a spaceship, go to the moon, salvage all the junk that's up there, bring it back, and sell it," his character Harry Broderick proclaims in a succinct summary during the pilot episode. The New York Times described Salvage 1 an "upscale, white Sanford & Son."

The space adventure premiered in 1979. To promote the show, Griffith sat down with People for an interview. As much as we've written about Andy Griffith, we found the piece to be rather revealed, even 40 years later.

Here are a dozen interesting little tidbits from the interview that you might not have known.

1. He drove a '69 Rolls Royce

The studio was a mere five-minute drive from his home (more on that abode below) but Griffith took the trip in style. He cruised in a Silver Shadow.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. His favorite snack was peanut butter and mayonnaise on crackers.

This seems like an… acquired taste, to put it politely. In fact, we had to Photoshop an image of it, because nobody today really takes pictures of the combination "treat."

3. His office was an old bus.

Eat your heart out, Jim Rockford. "[Griffith's] headquarters at the studio is a customized bus 33 feet long," People reported.

Image: AP Photo / Nick Ut

4. He regretted ending 'The Andy Griffith Show' after eight seasons.

After 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, the eponymous star called it quits in 1968, after the eighth season. By then, Barney and Gomer were long gone. Yet Griffith rued pulling the plug. In hindsight, he felt he should have done more. "I didn’t want him to quit," his manager Dick Linke admitted, "but he figured that the show had run its course, that he wanted to do more serious things. He knows he made a mistake."

5. He owned 53 acres in North Carolina.

After Andy's time in fictional Mayberry ended, the actor, ironically, left Hollywood for North Carolina. He owned a place on 53 acres in his home state. He began to panic when he stopped receiving scripts and and proposals in the mail. "The idea that the movie community was running along so beautifully without me—man, it drove me up the wall," he told People.

6. He had to repeat 4th Grade.

There was good reason. When he was 9 years old — the same age as Opie at the start of season four — Griffith caught a fleet of diseases, everything "except polio." He missed so much school, he was held back in fourth grade. It ended up working out, as he attributes this spell as the genesis of him becoming a class clown.

7. He played the trombone.

On his sitcom, we often see Andy playing the guitar. In "The Mayberry Band," he even picks up a tuba. But his first instrument was the trombone.

8. He bombed on 'The Ed Sullivan Show.'

Let this be a lesson of hope to all young comics. Griffith went on Sullivan to deliver some stand-up comedy, after his recorded routine "What It Was, Was Football" sold nearly a million copies in 1954. It was not exactly a Beatles nor Elvis moment. He bombed. Most attributed the poor reception to New Yorkers not quite getting his folksy, Southern material.

9. He made $25,000 a week in clubs while 'The Andy Griffith Show' was on break.

Griffith did bounce back as a stage act. How's this for hard work? In the months off between shooting seasons of The Andy Griffith Show, he would head to Lake Tahoe or Vegas to book gigs in clubs. He pulled in a handsome $25,000-per-week fee for those performances.

10. He once had a nightmare that he was murdering Don Knotts.

After his divorce in 1972, Griffith woke up one night in a sweat. He had just killed his ol' buddy Don Knotts in a dream. Don't worry — his psychiatrist explained that his subconscious was mererly trying to kill off his old image. Perhaps this is why he took on such different roles that decade.

11. He moved into Bing Crosby's old house.

People wrote that Griffith's California home was "Bing Crosby’s former North Hollywood estate with a two-story mansion, guest house, pool, two acres of landscaped grounds and an electric gate." 

12. He collected clocks and watches.

He was a bit of a collector. Aside from the timepieces, Griffith sought after antique furniture, hats, canes and classic cars. So that '69 Rolls was certainly not his only option.

Image: AP Photo

SEE MORE: 11 things you might not realize Andy Griffith did beyond 'The Andy Griffith Show'

The man also taught high school and won a gospel Grammy. READ MORE

Image: AP Photo / Wally Fong

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