In real life, Otis Campbell was more of a social drinker
The Mayberry town drunk speaks on his drinking habits!
Looking back, there's something almost charming in the way the town drunk is depicted in The Andy Griffith Show. Sure, he's constantly bombed out of his mind, but Otis Campbell was mostly harmless. As long as he didn't get behind the wheel or anything, the guy wasn't hurting anybody anyhow. He was, however, dealing with untreated alcoholism, and thank goodness depictions of the disease have changed over the years.
They just don't make bleary-eyed stumbling drunks who throw a paper-bagged bottle over their shoulder like they used to.
But what of the fellow who played Otis? Was he really a drunk, too? Sometimes we read about all these late, great actors who could imbibe on set and drink between takes. Was that the method Otis employed?
As it turns out, nope, the guy was business first, party second. But what was it like being so heavily associated with booze? Otis Campbell himself, Hal Smith, spoke with UPI News back in '66 about this very topic.
"Strangers come up to me and ask if I'm sober," said Smith. "Others are surprised to see me walking the streets, figuring I should be in jail."
Smith went on to tell the reporter that, despite his famous character's famous drinking habit, in real life, he was a light social drinker. In fact, Smith estimated that he drank a little less than the average American, and certainly less than the average Hollywood actor.
Believe it or not, at the time of the interview, Hal Smith could not recall the last time he was flat-out drunk. Now that's some good acting!