Andy's dad Carl Griffith made a brief cameo on The Andy Griffith Show
Here's why some say Carl was the inspiration for Sheriff Andy.
You have to be quick to catch it, but there was one time on The Andy Griffith Show when Andy's real-life dad could be spotted milling around Mayberry.
It happens about 18 minutes into the second-season episode "The Farmer Takes a Wife." If you recall, Alan Hale Jr. guest stars as Big Jeff Pruitt, who's come to Mayberry to find a woman to marry. Andy and Aunt Bee help Jeff act like a gentleman, and then Andy takes on a fatherly like role of helping him pick out a suit to dress like a gentleman.
So keep your eyes peeled when Andy and Jeff approach the clothing store Carroll's of Mayberry. You'll see a man exiting the store just as the two men pause in front of it. And that's when you’ll see him: Carl Griffith, Andy Griffith's proud pa.
Andy Griffith's dad Carl was the kind of father who didn't give his son a nickname. He named his boy Andy and had that put down on his birth certificate, not Andrew. And while he never called his son "Anj" the way Barney did, there was a whole heap of fondness between Carl and his boy.
"I had wonderful parents," Andy once told the Television Academy, before launching into a story about how his dad took extra special care to help Andy achieve his dreams.
"We didn't have money, and I wasn't athletic and I wasn't a good student, so I was kind of nobody," Andy admitted in the interview.
His dad didn't think Andy was a nobody, though. He knew his son was hard-working, because Andy had joined Carl in the furniture factory where he worked for several summers.
At the Mt. Airy Chair Company, Carl ran a bandsaw for most of his life, and Andy said even though his dad's hand shook a little, "he could saw a line and go so fast and never miss the line." He was as proud of his dad as his dad back then as his dad wound up being of him.
There were two rooms in the furniture factory, one for building chairs and one for other furniture like tables and hutches. Andy's dad worked in the chair room, and that's where Andy joined him when he went to work in the factory.
Although Andy wasn't as skilled a carpenter as his dad, you could picture how he helped out, marking furniture and cleaning up any messes. So when a job opened up to sweep the high school when Andy was 14, he knew he wouldn't mind doing a little dirty work. The $6 per month he earned would help him buy a trombone, the first musical instrument that caught his eye.
Carl watched his son sweep those floors until he got the trombone, and he knew right then his son was serious about getting into the performing arts. He didn't have a lot of money, but he wanted to help Andy hone his talent, so he asked the foreman at the furniture factory where Andy could learn to play the horn.
The foreman told Carl about a small Protestant church where a minister named Ed Mickey taught kids to play in the church band. As most Andy Griffith fans know, this is where Andy learned to sing and eventually secured his ticket out of Mt. Airy and into TV stardom.
"I became a little somebody then," Andy said.
While many fans of The Andy Griffith Show like to think that Andy is just like his character on the show, Mayberry historian Thomas D. Perry sees a much stronger resemblance between Sheriff Andy and Griffith's father, Carl.
"I came to believe that Andy Taylor was Carl Griffith, Andy's father, who was a great storyteller and who Andy's first wife said was 'the funniest man I ever knew' — and she was married to Andy Griffith," Perry said in an interview about his book Beyond Mayberry: A Memoir of Andy Griffith and Mount Airy, North Carolina.
Of course, the heart of The Andy Griffith Show is the bond between father and son so wonderfully portrayed by Andy and Ron Howard.
If you go to Pullen Park in Raleigh, there's a statue that commemorates this bond, showing Sheriff Andy and Opie holding hands with their fishing pole. The inscription on it reads, "The Andy Griffith Show — A simpler time, a sweeter place, a lesson, a laugh, a father and a son."
In Mt. Airy, Andy and Carl lived through their own simpler time, sharing lessons and laughs at the Mt. Airy Chair Company where Andy said they made "beautiful dining room furniture."
"When he finally quit, he was foreman of that room," Andy boasted of his pa in the interview.
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Huh? What? There's no way to put put a good face on this tortured sentence. The closest I can come is "He was as proud of his dad as his dad wound up being of him."