Andy Griffith coached his cast to speak with a North Carolina accent

Some of the actors were quicker to pick up on the drawl than others.

Andy Griffith mostly got what he wanted in creating The Andy Griffith Show. He was fond of the producers, Sheldon Leonard and Aaron Ruben, who were willing to bend to Griffith's will in casting and writing the series. Griffith got his wish to have Don Knotts join the cast. The two had worked together before, and Knotts was hand-selected for the role of Barney Fife. 

Obviously, Griffith had control over where his show was set, as well. Although Mayberry was fictional, it was rooted in the real world. The made-up suburb was based on Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, North Carolina, as he sought to bring the south to the rest of the country. It was his goal to present a more realistic, less-hokey version of a region that was usually depicted as populated by hillbillies.

One of the ways Griffith wanted to present the South was with more realistic accents than those typically heard on TV. The catch, though, was that his cast was from all over, and most of them didn't naturally sound like they were from Mayberry.

So, in preparing for the show's first episode, Griffith was tasked with coaching the other actors to acquire an accent to match his own. In a 1960 interview with Columbia, South Carolina's The State, Griffith detailed the process of creating a believable Mayberry dialect. Some of the cast, it seemed, were quicker to pick up on the drawl than others.

"It wasn't hard for Don to catch on. he's been hearing me talk for a long while. And being from West Virginia as he is—well, he's a regular Southern boy.

Little Ronny [Howard], well... He was born in Oklahoma but his folks moved him away when he was just six weeks old. So I sorta give him speech tips when we've time and he's catching on just fine."

The ladies in Mayberry, it seemed, required even less tutelage.

"Southern talk came easy to Frances," said Griffith. "And Elinor Donahue—well, I'll help her out if she needs it when she joins the cast too."

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12 Comments

Mommakat 1 month ago
Well I’m from little town called Stamping Ground Kentucky, pop less than 800 people, and I love the southern part of Kentucky. Plus did someone say Homemade Biscuits? Don’t forget the greens with ham hocks and fried taters! 😋😋
Inthe25th 2 months ago
Oh man, the first season of The Andy Griffith Show is like opening up the oven door and getting that "fresh baked biscuits" delicious aroma. The relationship development between Aunt Bea and Opie and Opie realizing just how much she needs him. ( I personally liked the idea of Andy and Barney being cousins; I wish they would have made more funny with that). Oh, "the morning, Honey/ morning Dear" routine was classic. Barney going "pow, pow" to the old ladies moonshine still was extremely enjoyable. Christmas at the jail house was very precious and Barney, the skinny Santa Claus and the look on old Mr. Weaver's face looking through the back cell window at Barney. The first season of The Andy Griffith Show is "delicious ". I can't think of anything controversial or liberal about it, but I will admit I do love many of the stories in season three most.
IndianaRockz Inthe25th 1 month ago
Did someone say fresh baked biscuits!?!?!?!?😋🧈🍯
SDWriter Inthe25th 1 month ago
Andy Griffith was a lifelong liberal Democrat, and the show reflected his values of intelligence, inclusion and decency. So, yes, “The Andy Griffith Show” has a very liberal attitude.
IndianaRockz 2 months ago
Ya'll, ahh jussst luuv a gooood Southern accent.
Well hello dahlin I'm just as country as a turnip green from Kentucky ☺️
Ok, Conway Twitty......🎶😄

And don't forget the Field Bologna KY sammich! 😄
How bout soup beans, fried taters and cornbread for supper 🤤
Yum yum! Let's make it a real country feast & add some black eyed peas (my fave), some collard greens & mac & cheese.....& worsh it down with iced tea. Hope someone makes a sweet potato pie! 🍽️
Sounds wonderful my sweet petunia... Now I'm channeling Colonel Potter ☺️
harlow1313 2 months ago
In the early episodes, we get "hick accent" Andy. In the latter we get "straight-man accent" Andy.

The first season is my least favorite for a number of reasons.
Runeshaper 2 months ago
The accent definitely gave the show a more realistic feel (-:
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