There's a big inside joke that explains this marvelous overlooked Mayberry character
Andy Clyde had a doppelgänger behind the scenes of The Andy Griffith Show.
"Sit down," an old man named Frank Myers tells Sheriff Andy. Andy looks and sees a chicken pecking the tattered couch.
"I'll stand," Andy says politely.
Under his frazzled, balding head of hair, Frank's furry eyebrows raise as he shoos the chicken away to make room for the lawman.
For the episode "Mayberry Goes Bankrupt," Don Knotts took a day off, and The Andy Griffith Show booked a very special comedian to guest star: Andy Clyde.
In a way for this unique Mayberry character, Clyde was simply dusting off an "old man" character that made him famous in his vaudeville days. In the beginning, people were amazed by his makeup talents — he really looked convincingly elderly — but as he aged, he easily only grew better at performing the part.
In his 45-year career as a character actor, he was best known for playing California Carson in the Hopalong Cassidy movies. He also played recurring roles on TV shows like Lassie and The Real McCoys. His Real McCoys castmate Walter Brennan told TV Guide in 1960, "Andy Clyde is a genuine professional, a joy to work with as an actor and to know as a friend. He can get laughs with just one look."
But his rise to fame came doing comedic shorts just like The Three Stooges. In fact, for Columbia, Clyde's old man character was the only short that could compete with the popularity of The Three Stooges. At the time Film Daily reported, "Columbia Studios is now in an uproar. What with the Three Stooges running wild on one set and Andy Clyde cutting up capers on an adjoining stage, the place is beginning to show signs of wear and tear."
One review from 1935 explained that all it took for Clyde to make a part sing was a decent story, saying, "Andy Clyde is always an entertaining comedian when the story is right."
By the time Clyde came on The Andy Griffith Show, he was nearly 70, and for his only appearance, he stepped into a very sympathetic role, especially from where Sheriff Andy is sitting.
In "Mayberry Goes Bankrupt," the town votes to evict Frank Myers, and Andy has to serve the eviction notice. It seems like a sad day in Mayberry to see such a nice old man turned out of his house, but the episode's twist finds him instead striking rich overnight. He's saved a $100 savings bond and in the interest, as the episode title suggests is a little more than Mayberry can afford to pay back!
The casting of Andy Clyde for this role, however, wasn't just because he was the perfect actor for the part. There’s a hint in his character’s name that explains the real reason why The Andy Griffith Show fans were treated to an episode featuring this guest star.
The name of Clyde's character is Frank Myers, and he was supposedly named after The Andy Griffith Show's production manager. According to fans, there was a joke that the real Frank Myers looked like Andy Clyde, and that's how the character came together in the end. Rumor has it the production manager even kept the character’s mailbox after the episode ended.
And if your ears perked up hearing the word "Myers," you would be right in guessing that Myers Lake was also named for the beloved production manager. He's the one who scouted the location!