Hoke Howell put all of himself into Dud Wash
How Ernest T. Bass' biggest rival was born.
"If I ever hear that you ain't good to her, I’m gonna call that lady sheriff, and you'll be in real trouble," Ernest T. Bass threatens Dud Wash at the end of the classic Andy Griffith Show episode "Mountain Wedding."
The Mayberry hillbilly has just been made to shake hands with Charlene Darlings' new husband, after spending the episode attempting to sabotage Dud and Charlene's wedding.
Of course, every fan knows the "lady sheriff" was none other than Deputy Barney Fife disguised as a bride. Don Knotts' character had posed as a decoy in one of the funniest scenes in the show's history. But have you ever wondered about the man who won Charlene's heart in the end?
"Mountain Wedding" features the second and final appearance of the original Dud Wash. He was played by Hoke Howell, a memorable character actor with a deep Southern drawl who featured in more than a hundred roles in TV (Here Comes the Bride, Happy Days, Bonanza, Lost in Space, Columbo) and movies.
But according to Howell's son, it was this role on The Andy Griffith Show that remained a favorite because his dad was "pretty much playing himself."
In an interview with Mt. Airy News, Hoke's son Stark Howell talked about why his dad was a perfect fit for this memorable Mayberry role.
"He would get a lot of Southern accent parts, because he was from Anderson, South Carolina," Stark said, noting his dad often played hillbillies who could fit right in with the Darling clan.
And although Hoke Howell was noted for always putting his entire heart into even the tiniest of roles, Stark revealed there was much more put into the process when it came to embodying the character of Dud Wash.
In the interview, Stark explained that he'd held onto his dad's copy of the script for the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show in which Hoke appeared: "The Darlings Are Coming." All over the script, he could see where his dad made notes, changing the dialogue to make it more natural to his idea of a Southern hillbilly — himself.
"[He] kind of made that role his own," Stark told Mt. Airy News.
Still beaming with pride in his pa, Stark said that everyone remembers Dud Wash even though the character only shows up a couple of times. (Later in the series, Bob Denver would step in to play the final appearance of the character in "Divorce, Mountain Style" — who do you think did it better?)
Out of all Stark's dad’s many roles, Stark pointed to Dud Wash as the brightest: "I would say that is probably one of the most-remembered roles."
It just so happens that it was also the role that was the most like Hoke Howell himself, proving that Mayberry brings the most authentic characters out of pretty much every actor who comes to town.