Nothing could keep Floyd the Barber out of Mayberry

Not even health complications kept Howard McNear away for long

Part of what made The Andy Griffith Show so memorable was its cast of minor characters. Sure, Andy and Opie were the show's emotional core, but the residents of Mayberry were what made the locale feel believable. Everywhere the fictional sheriff turned, he was greeted by neighbors that felt real. These supporting characters helped flesh out Mayberry and gave the show an authentic small-town feel.

One of Mayberry's most enduring residents is Floyd the Barber. As portrayed by Howard McNear, Floyd Lawson fit the tempo of the slow, one-traffic-light town. He's Mayberry through and through; Floyd is a direct descendant of one of Mayberry's founders, and he is a member of the town's Regal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship. In a lot of ways, Floyd the Barber was Mayberry.

It should stand to reason then, that the town and the show would feel remarkably different in his absence. So was the case when health complications took Howard McNear off the show. Midway through the production of The Andy Griffith Show's third season, McNear suffered a massive stroke that left him unable to work. The stroke greatly impaired McNear's mobility, and he was paralyzed down his left side. Nobody expected him to perform onset, and the circumstances kept him off the show.

A full year and a half later, the creative team was working on a new script that called for some homespun comic relief. It was a particularly tense story involving Opie and Aunt Bea. According to the Tyler Courier-Times, producer Aaron Ruben, knowing the script needed something funny, said to his colleagues "Boy, do I wish we had Howard."

Luckily for fans of the show, the producers made a phone call to the actor's home. McNear's wife told the producers "Work would be a godsend for him now." By that time, Howard McNear had recovered just enough to be incredibly bored. So, knowing they'd have to work to compensate for McNear's limitations, the writers wrote a small part for him into an episode.

With that, Floyd the Barber made his triumphant return to Mayberry. McNear didn't just stick around for that one episode either; he was a regular on The Andy Griffith Show through the remainder of the series. Not even a stroke could keep Howard McNear off fans' televisions. He had no difficulty with his lines, as the stroke only affected him physically. As such, Floyd was seen mostly sitting down for the remainder of the show, with his hand either in his lap or holding a newspaper. A special support was built for him on set, and finally, Floyd returned to his barber chair. 

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edsawyerfan 16 days ago
Maybe someday Opie Taylor and
Richie Cunningham will find out whatever happened to Andy Taylor Jr and Chuck Cunningham.........
DZee 18 days ago
"he was a regular on The Andy Griffith Show through the remainder of the series."
WRONG. He left after the 7th season. "Goober's Contest" was his last episode. His declining health was obvious by that time with his slurring speech.
Runeshaper 18 days ago
It must’ve been great for the fans to see Floyd return! Barbers 💈 are important in general, but especially in a smaller town 🙂
Adanor 19 days ago
In the Original Star Trek's "City on the Edge of Forever," William Shatner as Capt. Kirk and Joan Collins as Sister Edith Keeler walk past Floyd's Barber Shop, yes, the one and same.
obectionoverruled 19 days ago
Howard was actually at his best as a pre-tv radio star. The best roles on radio for him were as quirky characters on Yours Truly Johnny Dollar. This show continually outrates all other serials and shows rebroadcast every day on Serius Radio’s old time radio channel. On tv in Mayberry his myriad reactions and facial expressions made him a huge hit. He was a huge ham, as corny as they came. He, the town mayor, Barney, Gomer, Goober and beautiful Thelma made the show so unforgettable. I never cared for either of Andy’s insufferable girlfriends much; neither seemed believable - what girl would stick around with a guy who remained her fiancé for 10 years? The absolute funniest episodes of the show were Barney’s ticketing the visiting governor’s limo and Otis entering ‘his’ cell one drunken night when a goat who’d devoured sticks of dynamite was the real inmate. Did Floyd ever really snip anyone’s hair? He was always in motion, scissors swinging to and fro, but he never seemed to get filmed with a swatch of anyone’s hair in midair!
1funman 19 days ago
My favorite episode with Floyd is Otis sues the County.
His interaction with Otis lawyer is Hillarious!!
Dennis922 19 days ago
Howard had a long and successful career on radio before television and the Andy Griffith show. One if radio’s best character actors.
edsawyerfan 20 days ago
I wonder if there are any clips of
Walter Baldwin playing Floyd the barber on The Stranger In Town episode of TAGS or also if there are any clips of Howard McNear playing a barber with the name of Andy on one episode of Leave It To Beaver.
TheKodakKid 20 days ago

The barber shop in Mount Airy, North Carolina, hometown of Andy Griffith.
stevem 20 days ago
Howard McNear left TAGS after the seventh season.
edsawyerfan 21 days ago
Howard McNear played a barber with the name of Andy on one episode of
Leave It To Beaver .
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tootsieg 21 days ago
I like the character of Floyd. Howard McNear is another character actor that pops up everywhere:
edsawyerfan 21 days ago
edsawyerfan 21 days ago
On one episode of TAGS FLOYD LAWSON made a joke that he ran a CLIP JOINT !!
Mayorstoner 22 days ago
I always loved how Flotd would be talking about 1 thing and immediately start talking about something that was so unrelated to the topic. Like when Otis and Neil Bentley were suing Andy and Barney and Andy, Flotd and Neil were in the barber shop talking about the lawsuit and Floyd kept talking about Neil’s suit.
Mayorstoner 21 days ago
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Robertp 22 days ago
I am from a family of old time barbers. My father, several uncles, cousin, brother and son. They barbered in Waco Texas continuously for over 60 years. There isn’t a Floyd the barber joke that I haven’t heard. Everyone loved Mr McNear. Wasn’t really too far off the way real barbers act in my opinion. God bless our barbers, they’re a funny and personable group of guys.
justjeff Robertp 21 days ago
My original family barber (when we moved to Miami Beach in 1963) was a fellow born in the train stop town of Cherry Run, West Virginia. Paul was a great guy, and he left Florida sometime in the 1970s to retire.

Years later, thanks to the Internet, I was fortunate enough to track him down in Samson, Alabama. We kept in touch until his passing (he was around 86 at the time)...

Paul was from the old school of barbering - knowing his craft, building relationships... he even was 'forgiving' when I went through my "long hair and beard" period and never bad mouthed me or told me I was bad for business...

In fact, in his later years, Paul grew a beard - and told me he just got sick of shaving!
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