Kene Holliday: What it was like to be Andy Griffith's co-star

In Tyler Hudson, Kene Holliday crafted a perfect contrast to Griffith's Matlock.

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There are few titans of television with more popularity than Andy Griffith. His eponymous eight-season sitcom spun off several successful productions; The Andy Griffith Show either jump-started or elevated the careers of everyone involved. Griffith would go on to found his own production company and starred in a string of series before striking gold again in 1986 with Matlock. That show saw Griffith return to an authoritative role, this time as a lawyer instead of a sheriff. His character, Ben Matlock, was again a father, but in place of Opie, there was Charlene Matlock, a capable young lawyer. 

Just as every sheriff needs a deputy, so too did Matlock need a reliable public investigator. Enter Tyler Hudson, here played with aplomb by actor Kene Holliday. Holliday, like Griffith, was no TV newcomer. By '86, Holliday was a veteran of two other NBC series, Carter Country and Chicago Story. He'd also starred on Broadway in the successful drama Streamers before landing a recurring role on the ABC sitcom Soap. Regarding living up to Andy Griffith's past successes, the cards were stacked in Kene Holliday's favor.

The character of Tyler Hudson was a new kind of foil for Griffith, and Barney Fife was not. Instead of a sidekick, like the one played by Don Knotts on The Andy Griffith Show, Hudson was an equal. He was just as crucial to the team's success as Matlock. A Vietnam veteran, Hudson becomes Matlock's personal private investigator after Matlock changes the character's life by getting him out of a jam. He's able to apply his special forces training to cases aiding Ben and Charlene in their quest for justice. 

Given the popularity of Knotts' Fife, how did Kene Holliday feel about stepping into the role of Griffith's onscreen partner? In a quote to the Gannett News Service, Holliday summarized his feelings as such: "I'm happier than a pig in slop." In fact, Holliday was so enthusiastic about his role on the show that he could've equally been described as a cheerleader as well as a co-star. Quotes from Holliday's press interviews during that time have a contagious exuberance; he really wanted people to check out Matlock

"There are three very special performers who have track records," said Holliday. "People have liked to watch them in their own venues, and now they have all three together- Griffith, Purl, and Holliday. We're not going to do anything boring. We won't tolerate it. We like to have fun."

There was no fear or intimidation about stepping into the role of Tyler Hudson. Kene Holliday had the time of his life. In fact, Hudson was Holliday's favorite role yet, not just because it was so much fun working with Andy Griffith. This new role allowed Holliday to flex new acting muscles, as the character was a major departure from what he'd played in the past. 

"Matlock gives us new avenues to explore. I am a chameleon. That's why I like to act," said Holliday.

"The Tyler [Hudson] role affords me the opportunity to do many things. Tyler does everything, and he does it with a sense of humor. Matlock is not a comedy, but it is a drama with a sense of humor. Andy and I are funny. We like to laugh and amuse ourselves." 

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26 Comments

Neckie 7 months ago
After watching all seasons of Matlock, I grew to love this show. My take on Linda Purl, aka Charlene. I did read that she didn't like how her character evolved. She wanted more of a father/daughter relationship. But if you watch the later shows, when his daughter returned with a different name, "Leanne," their relationship was very much father/daughter and family oriented. With Linda Purl as his daughter, the writers made her a daddy's little girl rather than an independent woman, as Brynn Thayer's character was.
clownnn 10 months ago
I am so tired of Mash and All in the family. I’d like to see Matlock or Columbo
Wiseguy70005 clownnn 10 months ago
Matlock is on MeTV and Columbo is on COZI.
dbalius 11 months ago
Had dinner with Linda Purl shortly after she left Matlock. Andy Griffith was not one of her favorite people.
DW dbalius 11 months ago
Did she give any specifics as I believe it was Nancy Stanford that said she really enjoyed working with him and learned so much but maybe her comments in private would be different?
Wiseguy70005 dbalius 11 months ago
They should have brought back the original Charlene or even getting a third actress to play the part instead of creating a new character. But it's absolutely mind-boggling that later they created a different daughter when at no time did they ever say Matlock had more than one child or that Charlene had a sister. Then that actress quit too!
Pacificsun Wiseguy70005 11 months ago
Just curious, not debating your opinion. Did they acknowledge it was "another" daughter (by changing the character's name). Or just by putting a new actor into the role of being a daughter? Because supporting role exchanges are just how writers & producers just see functionality of the storyline. Except for outstanding Series, where no viewer would accept the change. Like, the Trio in ST:TOS. To do that, for the sake of a movie, they had to build a prequel. But, in a TV Series where they did do it often, was Dallas. The senior Ewings were one thing (illness & death). But when they explained Bobbie's (death?) to give that actor a hiatus, as a dream. Viewers/critics drew the line, because it was a cheat. Without giving it an authentic purpose in the storyline. And granted, Patrick Duffy was probably threatening to walk if they didn't give him a break. But IMO it destroyed Dallas' credibility.
dbalius DW 11 months ago
She just said he had a temper and they didn’t get along very well. She was glad to be off the show.
vonstockhoff dbalius 10 months ago
AG's wife when he died bulldozed his home to the ground with tons of memorabilia inside. He was a good actor and portrayed "nice" characters for the most part but he was not a nice person in real life from what I have read about him. He was nasty to Francis Bauvier so much so that Jim Nabors once told him to never talk to her like that again. He also hurt himself on the set by punching a wall and it was written into the script in "Aunt Bea The Warden"
Wiseguy70005 Pacificsun 10 months ago
I didn't say anything about "role exchanges." Unlike the people here who think only one actor can play a role, I don't mind actor changes. But at no time before or after did anyone say Matlock had two daughters. They just gave the character, which was essentially the same as Charlene, a new name which didn't make any sense or have any continuity. Just call her Charlene.
Pacificsun Wiseguy70005 10 months ago
No worries. I don't catch Matlock enough to know the details.

Personal (and worthless) opinion, I think the producers can be proactive enough to check the Series' cannon to avoid distractions. And viewers need to be flexible enough to go with the flow. If fans tried connecting every dot in the Waltons their head would be spinning.
MrsPhilHarris 11 months ago
I don’t see much of Matlock, but I like both both Tyler and Conrad.
Andybandit 11 months ago
Kene Holliday was good in Matlock, and so was Clarence Gilvard when he came on the show in place of Kene. Totally off the subject. I am interested to see what MeTv puts on after Adam-12 and before MASH. At 5pm on Weekdays starting in June.
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Bricat2001 Wiseguy70005 11 months ago
they just removed it on my station
Bricat2001 Bricat2001 11 months ago
they also just removed Quincy M.E. its all little house on the prairie now
Wiseguy70005 Bricat2001 10 months ago
You're right, but they showed it for so long maybe they they're just giving it a break. Since COZI is Universal-owned Murder She Wrote and Quincy will probably come back.
Moverfan Wiseguy70005 9 months ago
It's also on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries (8am-11am, midnight to 3 or 4 am) and will be back on Great American Family (I hope) in August when even they get sick of all Christmas movies all the time.
15inchBlackandWhite 11 months ago
Unfortunately Holliday was forced to leave Matlock as he was battling a drug addiction at the time. Fortunately it seems he's managed to turn things around.
Fortunately we learn something new everyday on MeTV quizzes and stories. Not only with the story itself but MeTV posters. I had zero idea why Holiday left and Gillard emerged. I liked them both but favored Gillard a bit. Of course Gillard moved on to Die Hard (one of the villains), Walker, Texas Ranger among others.
If you look closely at most of the third season you'll see that Andy Griffith and Kene Holliday don't appear together even in the same scene. Kene's scenes were probably filmed separately because of his efforts to fight drug addiction.
medeaschild texasluva 11 months ago
Unless I'm misrecalling, Gilyard did Die Hard BEFORE he did Matlock. I think he did leave Matlock to join Walker, Texas Ranger though.
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