Hal Smith would tell children not to idolize Otis Campbell
''I tell the kids to do as a say, not as Otis does,'' the actor said.
There are many pros to playing a well-known supporting character on a series like The Andy Griffith Show. It opens the door to a lot of success, but when you portray the town drunk, there are cons to the role, such as children potentially becoming influenced by the part.
For a chunk of his career, Hal Smith was seen as Otis Campbell, a man who loved to drink. He didn't mind it, though, because he saw success in other areas too. "I've done a lot of educational television work. I've done 65 half-hour television shows for Villa Allegre, a public television series produced in two languages - English and Spanish," he told Lexington Herald-Leader Newspaper in 1977.
Smith also voiced the Owl on Winnie the Pooh, Elmer Fudd, Goofy and many other classic characters. Yet, the role that bonded like glue was Otis Campbell. When asked if this hurt his career, the actor said, "In one respect, it isn't good. I do voices, and I enjoy doing them."
The "drunken image" made Smith a familiar face on television and in real life. "I went on a cruise not too long ago, and I must have given away 1,000 pictures. I had them made up because people are nice enough to ask for them, and I figured I wouldn't be anything without the people who remember me."
One group of people Smith was surpised knew who he was: children.
"Yet my face is so familiar, and I've been able to do a lot of things. I haven't suffered for work," he revealed. "What's surprising is that it is young kids who recognize me and say, 'you're Otis.' They watch reruns of the Griffith show."
It was special to the actor that young children knew about the series and loved watching it, and it made him even happier that they knew his character. However, he also had a new responsibility and wanted to ensure children understood not to be like Otis.
"I try to soft-pedal the drunk image," Smith said. "I tell the kids to do as a say, not as Otis does. It's an interesting problem because they see me as a nice person, but they also see me as a drunk."