Ken Berry reveals what it was like to replace Andy Griffith

Being the big cheese in Mayberry was a tall order.

Have you ever had to fill some pretty big shoes? Being a backup is a tricky proposition. Sure, everyone's agreed that you're dependable enough for the position. But how could you possibly live up to those lofty expectations? It's almost impossible to meet expectations when the job has been done well before. After all, you're your own person!

Imagine those shoes you were set to fill belonged to Andy Griffith. That monumental task was assigned to actor Ken Berry in 1968 when the world readied itself for Mayberry R.F.D. Griffith would no longer be the focal point of the fictional southern town. While the setting and the supporting cast may look familiar, this would be an Andy Griffith Show with no Andy Griffith. So, it was retitled, and populated with some new faces.

Berry, for his part, understood the magnitude. He respected what came before him while making it clear he didn't aspire to replicate what was special about The Andy Griffith Show. In a 1968 interview with the Santa Cruz Sentinel, Berry spoke at length about moving into Mayberry.

"How did I get the job?" asked Berry, responding to the journalist's line of inquiry. "I'm not quite sure. If they think they're getting another Andy Griffith, they're going to be disappointed. I'm not anything like Andy. I won't even have a Southern accent. But then, several of the characters in the series don't have accents, and no one seems to notice."

Berry was set to join the show as a local farmer elected president of the City Council. He was joined by George Lindsay, who returned as Goober Pyle.

"I understand that Andy will be back on the show four times next season," said Berry. "So it will seem as though he is still holding down the same job. The audience just won't see what he's doing every week.

"That will help pave the way for the new series. The only trouble is that the characters in the spin-off won't be in the show. Originally it was planned for me to bring to Mayberry a family of Italian farmers I had met while in the service. now that we've done the show, I understand the family won't be used, after all, just one Italian."

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14 Comments

JHP 25 days ago
those color ones are to me what Joe Besser 3 stooges are
RedSamRackham JHP 23 days ago
* Now now! No other 3rd stooge could ever compare to the comedic genius of Curly but Joe Besser was a good comedic actor in his own way and he was necessary to help Moe & Larry continue their Columbia contract after deaths of Curly & Shemp.
JHP RedSamRackham 23 days ago
well we will agree to disagree - actually Stooge fans kinda talk down Shemp and my 2 cent opinion was shemp was very funny just now as zany as Curly - My Fav Shemp short is Malice in the Palace

but Joe Besser (and again all the gags from the stooges were getting old and tired no matter who did them) Joe maybe was behind the 8 ball on that point
daDoctah 25 days ago
"I won't even have a Southern accent. But then, several of the characters in the series don't have accents, and no one seems to notice."

"Several" characters don't have accents? Better make that "every regular or recurring cast member besides Andy, Barney, and the two Pyle cousins" don't have real Southern accents. Aunt Bee was from New York, Otis was born in Petoskey MI, Ernest T Bass came from the Bronx, and Floyd was a native of Los Angeles.
RedSamRackham daDoctah 23 days ago
* And although Cheers took place in Boston there were no Kennedy-esque dialects. Meanwhile sitcoms in NYC had no "Noo Yawkuh" dialects. It's TV and viewers have to be able to easily understand dialogue.
JHP daDoctah 23 days ago
the early TAGS eps had ANG doing an un-listenable (?) southern accent
Runeshaper 25 days ago
One Italian is better than no Italians! (-:
cperrynaples Runeshaper 25 days ago
It's true that the final TAGS infered that the Italian family was going to live in Mayberry,but they disappeared!
JHP Runeshaper 25 days ago
in a bun and before on the grill - you bet :) (only kidding)
Runeshaper JHP 24 days ago
hahahaha
Irish 25 days ago
I really can't comment on Ken Berry because I really didn't like Mayberry RFD. I think I saw it maybe twice, and it just never measured up to The Andy Griffith Show. Infact, when Barney left the show, I quit watching. Just wasn't the same. I do, however, have the entire series. Have a great MeTv week! 📺🎬🎥🎭🚔👍❤️
MrsPhilHarris Irish 25 days ago
I know I watched the show when I was a kid, but I don’t remember any episodes.
Well, it now runs Saturday on MeTV+!
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