Unveiling Andy Griffith's hidden business acumen: Ownership and negotiation in Mayberry

He was a great sheriff and an even better businessman.

CBS Television Distribution

Andy Griffith's onscreen Southerner persona masked the dealings of a very shrewd businessman. Off-camera, Griffith was much more savvy than Sheriff Taylor or any of the other residents of Mayberry.

"He had a strong control over his shows and his persona," said Tim Brooks, co-author of "The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows." While many of Griffith's contemporaries were held in the sway of network suits, according to Brooks, Griffith was never "turned off track by an executive or producer."

Andy Griffith already had a pretty lucrative career before The Andy Griffith Show, and maybe this is why he was able to navigate the shark-infested Hollywood waters so deftly. He'd seen success on the stage and the big screen and made money by selling records. Griffith's greatest Broadway success, "No Time for Sergeants," was later adapted into a feature film, and Griffith reprised his role. 

While his career blossomed, he was also sharpening his backstage goings-on. Griffith and his agent learned some meaningful lessons early on by observing what happened on other proven hits. Griffith landed a role as a country sheriff on The Danny Thomas Show. Griffith also learned how to make the most money out of an opportunity while growing more comfortable onscreen. Soon, he was granted his own spinoff. 

Crucially, Griffith negotiated partial ownership of The Andy Griffith Show. While that practice would become much more common later, at the time, an actor/creator with a stake in the series was unheard of. 

It paid off in the immediate, but only at a fraction of what it would later become. While affiliate networks sprouted up around the country, each needed content to fill the airwaves. That's when The Andy Griffith Show reruns became their most lucrative. These brand-new TV channels were willing to pay top-dollar for the sought-after show. Griffith, already a rich man, was set for life.

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

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5 Comments

TheKodakKid 24 days ago
I remember in an interview, he was asked if with all the remakes taking place, if he thought that someone would remake “The Andy Griffith Show.”

He said, “They can’t. I own 51% of it, and I won’t allow that to happen. I don’t think that the could possibly re-create it. It would be almost impossible to assemble another cast as talented, and that worked so well together.”

Hopefully, whoever is now in control of his estate sticks to that philosophy.
ncadams27 29 days ago
When CBS aired reruns of the show on weekday mornings, it was retitled Andy of Mayberry.
Bapa1 ncadams27 29 days ago
I remember that.
FrankensteinLover 1 month ago
Money Money Money, he was a very smart man. Still my favorite show ever, living off the reruns.
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