The Andy Griffith Show's Paul Hartman was a dancer before he was an actor

The Mayberry handyman was a delicate dancer in real life.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

Some professionally trained dancers go on to travel the country and perform. Others head to Broadway or perform on local stages, some become dance instructors and a few pivot to a career in acting.

The Andy Griffith Show's Paul Hartman did all four of those things as a dancer.

You may know Hartman for his role as Mayberry's finest handyman, Emmett Clark. Or, maybe you remember his store, Emmett's Fix-It Shop. Many others remember Hartman for his dancing career.

At first glance, you may not have imagined the Mayberry handyman to be much of a dancer, but Hartman began performing dance routines with his sister when he was only four years old. 

After years of dancing, both for fun and professionally, he and his wife at the time, Grace Hartman, started a comedy-dancing vaudeville act that consisted of them both paying homage to and lightly mocking the popular dances of their time.

The duo would dance to everything from ballet to swing.

"It's not easy to lift a 125-pound woman and smile at the same time," Hartman said in a 1976 interview with The Modesto Bee. "Dancing teams would be full of smiles and glides and lifts, pretending to be light as a feather. Back in the wings, they would be shouting at each other while trying to catch their breath."

"Grace and I decided to spoof them and it worked, though some of our fancy evening clothes got dirty," he said. 

He and his wife would dance in musicals, on stages all over the country and in nightclubs all across the world. Hartman even made his Broadway appearance alongside Bob Hope in Ballyhoo of 1932.

When Hartman began playing the role of Emmett Clark, he said he wanted to work on his character work for a while. According to the interview, the popular dance crazes of the '60s just weren't cutting it for Hartman.

"Now there are practically no dance teams left," he said in a 1967 interview with Mount Vernon Argus. "You play a room for one or two weeks and since you are the only act, you stay on too long. Vaudeville, of course, is dead. So it's tough for the newcomers."

Hartman still danced at any chance he could get but was grateful for the opportunity The Andy Griffith Show gave him.

"If it doesn't work, something else always comes along in this business," he said. "But I sort of like the idea of doing this (The Andy Griffith Show) for a while."

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Dario 11 months ago
From late 1972/early 1973. 😁
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Bapa1 12 months ago
He was in the movie "How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying". I wonder if he did that onstage as well.
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cperrynaples 12 months ago
Yes and didn't Kayla "die" and come back to life recently along with Kate & Marlena?
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Andybandit 12 months ago
That is good that Paul was a Dancer and Actor, if he failed at acting. He could do back to dancing.
Big3Fan 12 months ago
I'd love to see a dance off between Paul and Grace Hartman and Buddy and Vilma Ebsen.
MrsPhilHarris 12 months ago
I don’t remember much about his character. He’s in the colour episodes which I don’t really care for.
cperrynaples 12 months ago
if you lift a 125-pound woman, you sorta have to be delicate...LOL!
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 12 months ago
Patrick Swayze did a good job lifting Jennifer Grey during
The Time of My Life - Dirty Dancing - Final Dance.
cperrynaples LoveMETV22 12 months ago
Yes, he did! Every girl from the 80's wanted Swayze to do that with her!
cperrynaples 11 months ago
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