Mark Hamill made his screen debut alongside Andy Griffith

The 1970-71 season was a breakthrough for the Star Wars star — and a struggle for Sheriff Andy.

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Luke Skywalker met Sheriff Andy Taylor and there is not a single image to show for it. How could that be? Two pop culture icons shared the screen in 1970. More importantly, for young Mark Hamill, it would be his screen debut. 

One might think that following the success of The Andy Griffith Show, Andy Griffith himself continued his hit streak on television. Not so. Perhaps being pigeonholed as the folksy Mayberry man, Griffith struggled to find another smash series throughout the Seventies.

His first attempt at a second act was Headmaster, a dramatic sitcom along the lines of Room 222. Griffith played the headmaster of the Concord School, an elite private school in Mayberry. It was a far cry from Mayberry Union High School. Jerry Van Dyke played the hapless football coach in a role that was essentially a dry run for his time on Coach.

In one episode called "The Experiment," headmaster Andy Thompson sends a group of teens into the woods to "start a society" as a social studies exercise. One of those kids is "Allan," portrayed by Hamill, a drama major from Los Angeles City College.

Alas, this historic debut is nowhere to be seen on the entirety of the internet. There is, however, a CBS preview of Headmaster on YouTube.

Two months later, Hamill popped up again as a high school student in an episode of The Bill Cosby Show (not The Cosby Show, this was still 1970). A spunky Hamill throws a punch at a kid twice his size in a hallway scrap at the opening of the story, "The Poet."

A few weeks later, Hamill turned up in an episode of The Partridge Family. Look for him sharing scenes with Susan Dey in "Old Scrapmouth," late in season one.

Sony Pictures TelevisionHamill boards the Partridge Family bus.

Meanwhile, Headmaster had already been expelled — because of The Partridge Family. The singing family crushed Headmaster in the ratings on Friday evenings. CBS quickly retooled the program and retitled it The New Andy Griffith Show, scrapping the California school premise and sending Andy (now "Andy Sawyer") back to familiar North Carolina.

At the end of the 1970s, both actors were in outer space. Hamill, of course, was an action figure in the Star Wars universe. The mind-boggling success of that blockbuster altered all of pop culture. Everyone wanted a piece of space action. So, Andy Griffith hopped aboard a spaceship for his 1979 series Salvage 1. Alas, that only lasted 20 episodes.

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37 Comments

gbearden12 9 months ago
Never a fan of anyone who hurts Andy
BenSobeleone 9 months ago
Mark Hamill was on an episode of Night Gallery. He played a telegram delivery guy. The episode: "There Aren't Anymore MacBaines" The one with Joel Grey. MeTV should bring that back to their schedule. A few years ago it was on Sunday nights during the summer.
Runeshaper 10 months ago
Personally, I would have given Headmaster a chance. Mark Hamill was perhaps the best voice for an animated Joker.
Bapa1 Runeshaper 10 months ago
He did a great job on BTAS.
Mblack 10 months ago
I'm glad the Partridge Family was mentioned.

"Shirley" was on TCM yesterday, The Courtship of Eddie's Father. She's good but I didn't know about it till later. The TV show used that name, including Mrs. Livingston.

"Laurey" wss wonderful in the Partridge Family, but I was younger. About 1978 she was in a movie where she was apparently naked. I never did see it.
SalIanni Mblack 9 months ago
That movie was "First Love" which co-starred William Katt, the star of "The Greatest American Hero". He and Susan Dey have a nude scene in the movie which you can watch on the Internet Archive. "The Partridge Family" is one of my favorite classic shows of all time. Me-TV should buy it from Antenna TV and run it either just before or right after "The Brady Bunch". Those two great shows should be seen together to be enjoyed and appreciated more by their fans.
Bapa1 10 months ago
.......and lest we forget, Hamill was also in the pilot episode of Eight is Enough. He didn't do the series because he took a part in some stupid sci-fi movie. What a moron!
Bapa1 10 months ago
Mark: "You killed my Pa!" Andy: "No, I am your Pa!"
BenSobeleone Bapa1 9 months ago
Good one!
BenSobeleone Bapa1 9 months ago
Andy: "You can destroy Mayor Stoner, he has foreseen it. Come with me Mark and we will rule Mayberry as father and son!"
Andybandit 10 months ago
I must be the only one who never saw it in color.
Andybandit 10 months ago
I never saw Mark Hamill on TAGS, because I never saw it in Color.
denny 45 months ago
Salvage One was great, watched pretty much the entire series on YouTube a few years ago.
BenSobeleone denny 9 months ago
ABC should do a remake of that tv series. Not much to watch on that particular network anyway.
teethclenched 45 months ago
Hamill was also in a TERRIFIC one-season series in 1974 called THE TEXAS WHEELERS along with Gary Busey and the great Jack Elam-- one of those one-season-wonders, like the earlier HE & SHE with Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss, that some company, somewhere, should put out on DVD.
Coldnorth teethclenched 9 months ago
I tend to remember the names of old shows but not what the premise of the shows
RicardoShillyShally 46 months ago
I remember " Headmaster". I watched because I was an Andy Griffith fan. I seem to recall an episode involving a teacher having affair with a student. It was treated lightly, but today that would considered a crime.
That happened at my high school in the late 70s. A girl in my class was dating one of the teachers during our senior year. They were able to keep it a secret until the last couple of months before graduation. When school officials found out I don't recall either of them getting into trouble for it, and in fact they did marry that fall. I heard they split several years later. (The teacher was in his mid 20s, so he wasn't that much older than her.)
RicardoShillyShally 46 months ago
I always thought Hamill was miscast for "Star Wars" - too effeminate. All the other casting was fine, though.
Kurt Russell auditioned for Luke Skywalker. Russell would have been an excellent Luke! He watched some of his audition tape on some talk show. I think it was Jimmy Fallon. Russell got a good laugh watching that tape. I've seen some of those Star Wars audition tapes/videos on youtube. They're friggin' hilarious!
crvierra 46 months ago
Too bad Hamill turned into such a pompous, self-absorbed jerk.
teethclenched crvierra 45 months ago
Heh, really? Not that I know the man--and I'm assuming you don't either, but everything I've heard about him makes me think he's a stand-up guy.
AlF 46 months ago
Susan Dey was breathtaking...
RicardoShillyShally AlF 46 months ago
Ya think? I never thought so, but that was the popular opinion at the time. I was more of a Judy Strangis ( "Room 222" ) fan.
Not to mention Karen Valentine!
daDoctah teethclenched 10 months ago
Judy for me. Karen Valentine was just too goofy for me. Like her contemporary, Sandy Duncan; it took decades for either of those two to grow on me.
gmhbach9912 46 months ago
I love The Andy Griffith Show❣️
PhyllisATheresaBraniff 46 months ago
Hamil, One of my Childhood heart throbs!! 💓
lucy 46 months ago
Hello love Andy Griffith and Don Knotts ❤️❤️😂
cperrynaples 46 months ago
Strangely, there are 2 full episodes of NAGS on YouTube, but no Headmaster! Anyone know what '70's singer performed the theme song?
cperrynaples cperrynaples 46 months ago
Fun Fact: Hamill was set to play the oldest son on 8 Is Enough, but passed in order to visit "a galaxy far far away"!
Adelonti cperrynaples 46 months ago
Linda Ronstadt
MrsPhilHarris cperrynaples 46 months ago
Wasn't he in the pilot?
daDoctah cperrynaples 46 months ago
But he never did get to Tosche Station for those power converters.
cperrynaples MrsPhilHarris 46 months ago
Yes, Hamill was in the pilot, but he wanted to do Star Wars, so Grant Goodeve took over! Yes Ronstadt sang the Headmaster theme, "Only A Man"1
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