Stories from Andy Griffith's makeup artist inspired many hilarious events in Mayberry
"He was a wild, wonderful man," Andy once said.
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Growing up in Rutherfordton, North Carolina, in the first half of the 20th century, Lee Greenway had a similar childhood to that of Andy Griffith. It was only natural that, when the two met behind the scenes of The Andy Griffith Show, they would get along.
Greenway was the makeup artist making sure all the actors, including Andy and Don Knotts, were camera-ready. Lee and Andy became good friends. They went hunting and even played guitar together on set.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Griffith called Greenway a "wild, wonderful man." Greenway retired in the 1970s and moved back to Rutherfordton, but he and Griffith maintained a close relationship through the 1980s. "We had a lot of fun between scenes," Greenway told the Citizen-Times in 1986. "I speak with Andy all the time."
Lee Greenway started his makeup career in feature films, working on comedies, Westerns, and even science-fiction movies. He provided the monstrous vegetal makeup worn by James Arness in The Thing from Another World.
But his talents in the makeup trailer weren't the only thing Greenway provided to The Andy Griffith Show.
Growing up in small-town North Carolina, he could relate to Mayberry very much. His memories even inspired episodes of the show!
In "The Rehabilitation of Otis," Barney tries to rehabilitate Otis Campbell after he drunkenly rides into Mayberry on the back of a cow. Greenway recalled a similar incident involving an intoxicated relative.
"I had an uncle who got half lit-up or more once and came home on a mule. He went back out, put a saddle on a cow, and rode away. We got in the old T-Model and found him lying in the road with the cow standing over him," Greenway recalled. Yep! That episode was based on a true story!
It just goes to show that reality is always stranger than fiction and even the most outrageous things on television can be taken from real life.