Hal Smith faced a little backlash for playing Otis Campbell

"I enjoy making people happy as Otis."

One of the last things a fan of The Andy Griffith Show might expect to see happen on the show is a champagne toast for the town drunk Otis Campbell. Usually, folks prefer to keep Otis away from the bubbly.

But in the first season episode "A Plaque for Mayberry," they pop the cork for Otis to celebrate Otis, as the town has just learned he is a descendant of a Revolutionary War hero. For fans of Hal Smith, the funny scenes that follow form an indulgent tribute to the veteran character actor, featuring some of his funniest exchanges with Don Knotts.

For Smith, however, not everybody got the joke. He said playing Otis toyed with the public's perception of him as a person. In an interview heard on the TAGS podcast Two Chairs No Waiting, Smith even once said his young son got picked on during elementary school because other kids didn't know what to think of his dad, who as far as they could tell was always locking himself up in the Mayberry jail.

"They used to call him Little Otis," Smith said. "He didn’t really like that."

"When I took him to school, the other kids gave me funny looks," Smith added, explaining that he felt bad that his curious public image had blurred the lines between TV sitcom fantasy and actual reality for some folks in their own hometown. He said the confusion even introduced real tension at times.

"I was in a hardware store one time," Smith said. "My son Terry was with me. There was a guy looking through some nuts and bolts and stuff, and he looked up at me and said, 'Oh, you're the guy from The Andy Griffith Show. I hate you.'"

As in Mayberry, Smith said he rolled with the punches, and that the majority of his encounters were with fans who clearly understood the comedy of the classic TV character that made him famous.

"People today love the show and the character," Smith said. "It's unbelievable. They come up to you and want to hug you."

For his part, in the real world Smith had a reputation for going out of his way to be warm to the people around him, known behind the scenes for cracking up the cast of The Andy Griffith Show. Apart from playing Otis Campbell, Smith also became well-known as a voice actor. His reputation as Otis Campbell followed him there, too. "Hal Smith was Otis the town drunk on The Andy Griffith Show," said Barbara Donatelli in an interview for the book Think Pink! The Story of DePatie Freleng.

Donatelli said that’s how she knew him in her early days working in the animation department for the 1970s cartoon Doctor Dolittle. For that show, Smith voiced Tommy Stubbins, the boy who becomes Doctor Dolittle's assistant. But behind the scenes, Donatelli said Smith made time to make her laugh, too, even though she played such a minor part in the production.

"My function was to gather the scenes and all the backgrounds and transport them over to the camera service," Donatelli said. "That was at night. I had a little room outside the camera department and across from Ink and Paint. Hal Smith would come in and stick his head in and he would always tell me that I looked like Cher. At that time, my dark brown hair was long and I did resemble Cher — a shorter version of Cher. He would always come in and tease me about it. He was the sweetest man. It was really nice of him to come in and tease me like that."

So the lovable part of Otis Campbell's character absolutely checks out, if the kids who picked on Terry Smith in elementary school happen to be reading this post and still wonder if his dad Hal Smith was anything like his Mayberry character.

The important thing to Smith remained how connected he continued to feel with The Andy Griffith Show fans through time. "I enjoy making people happy as Otis," Smith said.

We enjoy it, too, and it’s our favorite reason to toast to Otis when you re-watch "A Plaque for Mayberry."

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geatornez82 2 months ago
Not a fan of "The Andy Griffith Show." I know Hal Smith mostly for his voice work (mostly Hanna-Barbera). I did see him on an episode of "The Lucy Show," but I didn't know it was him until he started speaking. I may not know his face, but I know his voice anywhere!
MrsPhilHarris 2 months ago
Was a drunk in The Ghost & Mr. Chicken.
ELEANOR 2 months ago
That's the magic of TV. You see that actor in his or her role and you actually believe that this actor is really like that. That that role is indelibly inscribed on your soul and one doesn't stop to think that that person is not really like that. Yes, thanks to the magic of TV, an actor who plays a rotten character may experience a cold shoulder in real life from someone who forgets that this actor just "plays" a rotten character on a TV show and is really a nice person in real life.
ELEANOR 2 months ago
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JHP 2 months ago
his character was almost the best on the show (#1 Ernest T)
bagandwallyfan52 2 months ago
I liked The Andy Griffith Show but I
wish that the "Stranger In Town "
Ed Sawyer (William Lanteau)and
Lucy Mathews (Marlene Willis ) had
become Regular Characters on
The Andy Griffith Show instead of
appearing in one episode only.
I wish that Hal Smith AKA Otis Campbell had stayed on TAGS
instead of leaving the show after the
Color episode Otis The Artist.
I also wish that Mayor Roy Stoner
(Parley Baer) Barney Fife (Don Knotts)
Warren Ferguson (Jack Burns)
Flora Mallarby (Alberta Nelson)
Charlene Darling (Maggie Peterson)
Mary Simpson (Sue Ane Langdon)
Peggy McMillan(Joanna Moore)and
Ellie Walker (Elinor Donahue) had
ALL Stayed on The Andy Griffith Show instead of vanishing into thin air.I also wish that Roy Stuart Cpl Boyle had stayed on GOMER Pyle USMC instead of disappearing.
I wish that the following Happy Days
Cast Members had not vanished from
Happy Days:
Chuck Cunningham1 Gavan O'Herlihy
Chuck Cunningham2 Randolph Roberts
Bag Zombroski:Neil J Schwartz
Moose :Barry Greenberg
Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
Wendy:Misty Rowe
Marsha Simms :Beatrice Colen
Also Cheerio Meredith as Emma
Brand Howard Morris as Ernest T Bass were also great characters
On The Andy Griffith Show.
Also Cpl Nick Cuccinelli (Tommy
Leonetti) Lou Ann Poovie (Elizabeth
MacRae)and Frank Sutton as Sgt
Vince Carter on GOMER Pyle USMC
Were also wonderful characters.
Will Wright as Ben Weaver was a
Fun Character.
I wish that all towns could be like
Mayberry and Hooterville.
Well as you can't change what is. Here is a star for you to wish upon.
From the new " 𝗣𝗶𝗻𝗼𝗰𝗰𝗵𝗶𝗼 ", starring " 𝗧𝗼𝗺 𝗛𝗮𝗻𝗸𝘀.
ELEANOR bagandwallyfan52 2 months ago
Elinor Donahue was specifically brought in to be Andy's sweetheart. It was obvious from the first minute of the first scene that the chemistry WAS NOT THERE and so she was written out.
LoveMETV22 ELEANOR 2 months ago
Elinor Donahue left the series for personal reasons and asked the producers to be let out of her contract to deal with some issues, which the producers accommodated her wishes.
She has said so herself in interviews. She was not written out of the series.
DethBiz 2 months ago
Off the subject, but just wondering if MeTV is going to do remembrances on here for Jack Ging and Henry Silva?
Pacificsun 2 months ago
Gosh, lot's of great background in this story!! The only thing missing are the dates of the quotes by Hal Smith himself. Sometimes a date puts a comment into perspective. The '60's, '70 were a conservative time compared to what we're used to, today. Meaning I hope the man went to his grave, knowing what an interesting character and a fine actor he was!! We should have the likes of similar personalities in this day, we'd be fortunate.
JHP Pacificsun 2 months ago
my all TIME fave quote - "yerrr right , I am a killer. I just killed a whole pint!"
JHP 2 months ago
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Andybandit 2 months ago
I saw Hal Smith in other shows and the Movie with Don Knots. He plays a drunk in those shows and the movie too.
JHP Andybandit 2 months ago
He played a clown on the Org Odd couple for a kids BDay party and ending up playing poker with Oscar and his gang:)
Zip Andybandit 2 months ago
He played a drunk who rats on Charles and jonathan Garvey on a Little House episode as well. Let's face it, Hal played a great drunk. Even if Andy Griffith then tried to turn him into an ice cream man in Return To Mayberry.
Rob 2 months ago
I had to blow up that photo of Otis, it looked like a had a pig snout sticking out of his left cheek!
Moverfan Rob 2 months ago
Arnold Ziffle! You come right over here and leave that nice Mr. Campbell alone!
PhDWIllie 24 months ago
I always appreciated the fact that when the cast rejoined for their “Return to Mayberry” reunion they had dried out old Otis, and he was a responsible member of the Mayberry society. Quite a wonderful thing to do for a treasured - if not completely pickled - cast professional!
RandySkretvedt 24 months ago
I saw him at that collectors' show on January 15, 1994, and he passed away on the 28th. Here's an article about that show.
https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-01-13-vw-11495-story.html
RandySkretvedt 24 months ago
For me, Hal Smith was always "The Pancake Man," the character he played as the host of a weekday morning kids' show on KHJ-9 in the Los Angeles area. I met him at a collectors' show and thanked him for my many happy memories of watching him as a child. He said, "Thank you -- I would give you one of the finger puppets, but I just recently ran out of them." (These were a premium on the show.) Only a few days later, I was listening to the news on radio and heard that Hal Smith had died. I wish he had lived longer, but I'm glad that I got to meet him and thank him.
Pacificsun RandySkretvedt 2 months ago
Yes, that's such a nice feeling!
MadMadMadWorld 24 months ago
I've always thought the Otis-Barney verbal fights were some of the funniest and highlights of the entire series. Comedy gold, and so many of them to laugh at on how strong the arguments were!
Rearea870 MadMadMadWorld 24 months ago
Absolutely! I love the interaction between those two!! Golden TV.
Pacificsun MadMadMadWorld 2 months ago
You know, it's interesting. They pretty much gave free reign to Don Knotts regarding his verbal and physical comedy. Because he was such an original genius. So the other actors (excluding AG) would back up (figuratively speaking) and let him do his thing (rightfully so). But Hal Smith was a good match, with impeccable timing. He just knew how zap back a zinger, did a lot of with facial expressions. But never with a sense of upstaging anyone. My hunch is, he and Don Knotts enjoyed each other's talent!
leannie429 25 months ago
It must have been quite a shock for people to know that Hal Smith also did several voices on “Davey and Goliath”back in the day when I was a kid.
jholton30062 25 months ago
He was in a few episodes of "Hogan's Heroes" as well. He was a busy man, a testament to his ability as an actor.
BrittReid jholton30062 2 months ago
A real few. He only appeared in one episode.
Pacificsun BrittReid 2 months ago
Was it a speaking part. I watch that show all the time. But the Germans tend to get lost in the background, unless they have a specific purpose in the episode. I'll keep watching for him, though.
BrittReid Pacificsun 2 months ago
Yes. Episode titled The Swing Shift.
Kittywhisperer 25 months ago
Hal Smith was also on Green Acres. He played different characters but never a town drunk.
jorel 25 months ago
I love Otis Campbell. I wish he was in more episodes but every one he was in was wonderful. Thank you Hal Smith for that role and your incredible voice acting too.
madmark1 25 months ago
Hal Smith reminded me a lot of Norm Peterson on cheers.By the time Cheers came around as a sitcom Hal Smith was a very old man but he would’ve made a good Norm but George Wendt did an excellent job at playing Norm Peterson.They could’ve just about have been interchangeable George Wendt would’ve made a good Otis.
Pacificsun madmark1 2 months ago
Absolutely. They had a way of pushing beyond the stereotypical "heavy drinker" to be polite, making sure their actual character was front and center. What I liked best about the Otis role was that he was seen both drunk and sober. A pretty neat role indeed. And my hunch is that Hal Smith valued that opportunity, almost like having two characters of TAGS 😎
Jeffrey Pacificsun 2 months ago
And, He never drank in real life. He, Hal Smith, was also in a few episodes of Adam-12. As was Foster Brooks, who never drank in real life, either.
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