There was a little bit of jealousy between Andy Griffith and Don Knotts
Who do YOU think is funnier?
In the third season of The Andy Griffith Show, Opie copes with mounting jealousy as Andy’s new girlfriend starts to take up more and more of his dad’s time.
In "Opie’s Rival," audiences were treated to one of those classic episodes that established Sheriff Andy as the sort of father who could help his son navigate emotional ups and downs.
In 2003, Griffith told The Courier-Journal that what made The Andy Griffith Show so successful was Andy being a good listener.
"He let Opie figure things out for himself," Griffith said.
The next year, in 2004, Griffith felt the tug of nostalgia and decided to move back to Toluca Lake, the place he called home while he was filming The Andy Griffith Show.
Buying a $2.4 million home, his relocation put him back in the orbit of his old costar Don Knotts, and according to Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic TV Show, for the first time in the old friends’ lives, Knotts had to learn to cope with his own jealousy as thick as Opie’s, over how much his wife Francey delighted in Griffith’s jokes.
She thought Griffith was so funny.
The story goes that Griffith and Knotts would take their wives out for dinner, and Andy would always tell jokes that cracked Francey up.
"That would make Don jealous," Daniel de Visé writes in the book, recounting how one night, Francey commented on Andy’s hilarious jokes at supper one time too much.
"I’m the funny one!" Knotts insisted.
This flash of jealousy was rare between Knotts and Griffith, who supported each other throughout their careers.
In his book, de Visé writes that Don’s jealousy over which one of them was funnier mirrored a tension between the actors that arose when Knotts won five Emmys for The Andy Griffith Show and Andy got none.
Whether Griffith felt jealous or not, he intentionally set Andy up to be the straight man, and that left Knotts to put on a show to draw all the laughs.
As a duo, Griffith brought out the best in Knotts, and every Emmy that Don won owed at least a small debt to that dynamic.
We know whatever small jealousies might have arisen; it didn’t affect their friendship.
On these nights while Francey was delighting in Griffith’s humor, Andy couldn’t help himself declaring how much he found her husband, his old pal Don’s company the greatest delight.
"Oh, I love Don," Andy would tell Francey. "I love him so much."