Did you ever notice this imposter Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show?
Howard McNear missed more than 40 episodes due to health issues, but they quietly found a substitute.
The Andy Griffith Show episode "A Date for Gomer" holds historical significance, and not just in the love life of Mr. Pyle. The episode was originally slated to air on November 25, 1963, the Monday before Thanksgiving. However, television plans were tossed out upon the assassination of President John F. Kennedy the previous Friday. Network news continued to cover the death of JFK and its aftermath for days in primetime. Thus, "A Date for Gomer" was given a rain check until December 9, 1963.
When it finally aired, the episode still held some historical curiosities. Mary Grace Canfield, best known for her later role as Ralph Monroe on Green Acres, portrayed a character with her same name, Mary Grace Gossage. She was Gomer's date and Thelma Lou's cousin.
But there is something even weirder — and far harder to sight — in the first scene.
Andy and Opie exit Floyd's Barbershop. The camera is set up in the Mayberry street and follows the father and son down the sidewalk.
"Why Floyd always has to get that little bit of hair down the back," Andy complains while rubbing his palm along the nape of his neck.
Peer through the window in the barbershop. Pay close attention to "Floyd." The barber is dressed just like Floyd in glasses and white coat… but it is clearly not the familiar Floyd Lawson we know and love. That is not actor Howard McNear.
A year prior, in December 1962, McNear suffered a serious stroke. His brush with death occurred after season three's "Convicts-at-Large." Lawson would not return to The Andy Griffith Show until "Andy Saves Gomer," which aired on March 16, 1964. He would return, but much worse for the wear. McNear performed sitting down, for the most part, with his left side immobilized. That was a span of more than 40 episodes without the friendly barber.
Well, excepting this imposter, of course.
We could not find out the identity of this alternate Floyd. It was seemingly not Walter Baldwin, the actor who first played the character in "Stranger in Town." That means that at least three men played the character onscreen!