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.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

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.

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brianallen00046 4 months ago
Andy's accent lessened as time went on. By the sixth season it was really not there anymore. I think that after Don left, Andy was just going through the motions.
Faline123 brianallen00046 3 months ago
I think that in the first season, he kind of overdid his accent just a little... after that season he became much more natural. Never did think he lost it! I have always lived in NC, about 2 hours south of Mt Airy. Most all people around me talk just like Andy!!
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Andy's accent was charming and I really liked it (-:
Faline123 Runeshaper 3 months ago
It sure was, and it was 100% natural.
ddaniels1957 4 months ago
His pronunciation was spot on for Aunt Bee; it's ain't not ant or awnt.
Faline123 ddaniels1957 3 months ago
Yep, I grew up calling all of my aunts, "Aint so and so"... That's just who they were!!
Waltc 4 months ago
The article references both Mt. Airy and Manteo interchangeably as the source for Andy's Appalachian accent. Mt. Airy is located at the foot of Appal. Mtns in far western NC while Manteo is in far eastern NC on the outer banks. Two different localities with completely different dialects.
Faline123 Waltc 3 months ago
Well, I think Andy used the mountain accent to help when the Darlings would come into town.. helping those actors know what to say. The accent that Andy had was more middle of NC , where I have always lived. I live about 2 hours south of Mount Airy, and though it is near the foothills, the people there don't have the mountain accent of the Smokies, it's more the middle of NC accent!! :)
Andybandit 4 months ago
Good for him to keep up with his accent.
Faline123 Andybandit 3 months ago
I agree. It just made the show!
FrankensteinLover 4 months ago
Love all the behind the scene stories of these classic shows.
Me too!! like when the Darlings were all sleeping in the hotel room with Andy and Barney, and they were talking about how when everyone started snoring, they all started laughing and would have to film it over and over!!
I go and see the Dillards play Live as much as Possible, and I love when Rodney tells that Story. That Andy & Barney would be laughing so hard they would just fall over into the Floor.
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