Andy Griffith went home to brush up on his accent whenever he had the chance
Griffith had to go down home to brush up on his accent.
The Andy Griffith Show (1960) had a distinctive hometown feeling that many viewers longed for. Most people would have no problem packing their bags and moving to Mayberry in an instant if it meant being best friends with Barney Fife or working alongside Andy Taylor.
The citizens of Mayberry were created to feel like real country folks who many could easily relate to. For Andy Griffith, who played the role of Andy Taylor, being from Mayberry wasn't all that different from his real hometown in Mt. Airy, North Carolina.
Griffith had a certain way of speaking during his time on the series. His Southern drawl was folksy, warm and melodic with just the right amount of twang. His accent puzzled many critics, but the fans fell in love with it.
In a 1960 interview with The San Francisco Examiner, Griffith said keeping his accent while living and working in Hollywood was important to him. He wanted to stay close to those country roots.
"Every so often, I take my wife, Barbara, and the youngsters back home to our farm in Manteo, N.C. and just refresh myself," Griffith said. "Yep, that's what I do. I love going down home because everyone there is kin to one another in my area. Everyone is just wonderful to us. They act as though I'd never been away."
Whenever Griffith found himself back in Mt. Airy, he and his family would sing in the church choir, go hunting, fishing or relax. No matter what was happening in his acting career, in his hometown, his only responsibility was being Andy.
According to the interview, during his refresher periods in his hometown, Griffith would brush up on his Southern drawl, mannerisms and country comments. Mayberry and Mt. Airy were two very similar places.
"Andy Taylor - that's my name in the series - is closer to me than my skin," Griffith said.
Griffith said The Andy Griffith Show wasn't a "hillbilly show," rather a show for anyone and everyone to enjoy. He added: "Just because we live in small towns that doesn't make us hillbillies."
"Alive, alert people live in small Southern mountain towns," Griffith said. "It's been traditionally hard for people who live in the mountains to make a living. Out of this comes a great deal of wisdom and humor. They work hard, play hard and laugh hard."
As a producer of the series, Griffith took part in story conferences and offered suggestions on mountain country slang and expressions that would keep the show sincere and true.
"Like when we got our new housekeeper in the show and the writers called her Auntie Bee," Griffith said. "It almost made me sick. I told them at the first rehearsal, no one's called Auntie anything. It's Aunt. So they changed it right there. Things like that, you wouldn't know unless you lived down there."
"Down there" was of course, Mt. Airy. His Southern roots played such a large part in his character on the series. And like his character, Andy Griffith knew how to charm an entire country.