Created originally as a spin-off of The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD gave loyal fans of the beloved, classic show a chance to continue watching their favorite characters for another three seasons. In fact, the first episode was the wedding of the title characters of The Andy Griffith Show, Andy and Helen. Though, shortly afterward, they moved away and left the show in the hands of the rest of the characters.
It has been 45 years since the last episode of Mayberry RFD premiered and that means it’s about time to revisit the show and catch up on with all of its actors. We’ll also learn about all the scandals, behind the scenes action, and bizarre stories that never made the tabloids at the time of the show’s original air dates.
Do You Know about the Forgotten Child?
Source: Good Pix
The main characters from The Andy Griffith Show get married in the pilot episode but did you know that later in the series they have a baby? However, there was one tiny little mishap. In the reunion movie Return to Mayberry, the characters never mentioned anything about giving birth to a child.
What Does RFD Mean?
Sometimes it’s easy to figure out abbreviations and what they mean, and sometimes it’s not. We all know that the show’s title is referring to Mayberry, the town it’s set in. For those of you who couldn’t figure out what the abbreviation in the title means, RFD refers to “Rural Free Delivery.”
Cancel Them All!
Though the show was very popular, it was canceled in 1971. Fred Silverman, an executive for CBS, is to blame. Evidently, he believed that shows like Mayberry RFD as well as others including Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Ed Sullivan Show, and Hee Haw only appealed to rural audiences. Therefore, he canceled them all though they all were doing quite well. That action has become known as the “rural purge.”
The Theme Music Is Borrowed
Ever wonder why the beginning of the theme song to the show sounds familiar? Perhaps because it was actually used for another theme song at one time? The first ten notes of the song are the same as the song to the show F Troop, which was Ken Barry’s previous show.
This Program Brought To You By General Foods
Often, television shows are sponsored by companies in the hopes that the marketing opportunity it brings will sell their products. Mayberry RFD, as well as The Andy Griffith Show before that, was sponsored at different times by multiple companies including General Foods. This company later merged with Krafts Foods, Inc. and became Kraft General Foods in 1990.
Many notable celebrities guest starred throughout the show’s time on air. Some of the more noteworthy stars included Farrah Fawcett who played a showgirl in “Millie the Model” in 1969, Jodie Foster who was in two episodes, and Natalie Schafer who played Cornelia Willoughby in an episode in 1970.
The Showe Had Great Ratings
The show was canceled in 1971 because producers were looking for something to appeal to a more urban audience remember, but Mayberry RFD was a hit. The show consistently ranked number 4 in the Neilsen rating charts for the first two seasons and the top 15 during the third season. Even though there were many complaints from fans, it was still canceled.
Creators Used Famous Props
In episode 22 of season three, Howard is in his apartment for the first time. If you look carefully you can see a prop from a different movie in the background. Sitting on a table by the wall under the mirror is the Maltese Falcon statue from the classic movie, The Maltese Falcon, starring Humphrey Bogart.
Where’s Opie Now?
Remember Opie? He was played by a very young Ron Howard. After the show ended he went on to begin directing short films and it didn’t take him long to achieve huge success with the box office. By Mayberry RFD’s reunion movie in 1986, he had already directed several successful movies and is now one of the most successful film directors in the world.
Mayberry RFD: A Copy Cat
Mayberry RFD was made to be very similar to The Andy Griffith Show. In fact, it was almost an exact replica. City councilman Sam Jones replaced Sheriff Andy Taylor for the main character. Both of these characters were very close to theirs and each was raising them alone after becoming widowers.
In an interesting twist in Mayberry RFD, actress Arlene Golonka was brought on to continue being a part of the old cast of The Andy Griffith Show. However, in The Andy Griffith Show, Golonka played Millie Hutchins and was Howard Sprague’s girlfriend. On Mayberry RFD, she was Sam Jones’s girlfriend even though Howard Sprague was still a part of the show.
Aunt Bee Went To Siler City
Aunt Bee was a huge part of the show’s legacy and even after she retired, her character was still remembered by the rest of the cast. Actress Frances Bavier moved to Siler City, North Carolina when she retired after the second season and a few times during the show, it was said that Aunt Bee moved to Siler City.
A Fifteen-Year Reunion
Many of the old characters returned fifteen years after Mayberry RFD ended for the reunion television movie. It was a chance to see almost all of the characters fifteen years into the future and see what their lives had turned out to be. The only characters missing were Sam Jones, Mike Jones, Aunt Bee, and Millie Swanson.
What’s Going on with Gomer?
Jim Nabors played the lovable gas station clerk Gomer Pyle. When the show was over, he settled in Hawaii where he still lives today. He recently married his longtime partner Stan Cadwallader in a ceremony in Seattle, Washington in January 2013. And after 30 years of singing “Back Home Again In Indiana” before every Indianapolis 500, he sang his final notes in 2014, and now enjoys the retired life.
Nabors And Rock Hudson?
Anyone remember this rumor? It was said that Nabors and Rock Hudson tied the knot in the early 1970s. It was such a widespread rumor that Hudson had to comment. Evidently, two men would have annual parties for which they always sent out funny invites. One year the theme was the wedding of Rock Hudson and Jim Nabors which got the rumor started even though it may have been just a joke.
His Legacy Lives On
Andy Griffith was a legendary actor and a Grammy-winning gospel singer whose legacy still lives on today, though he sadly passed away in July of 2012. He was 86 years old, passing comfortably in his home in North Carolina. According to Ron Howard, who played his son on the show and was a close friend, though he is gone, he lived a rich life.
The Real-Life Inspiration for Mayberry
The show’s town of Mayberry got its name from a real town. In an effort to make the town seem more real to viewers and to make connections with Andy Griffith who still was heavily involved in the production of the show even though he was not actually a regular part of the cast, they named Mayberry after his hometown, Mount Airy in North Carolina.
Where’s the Set?
It’s challenging to maintain sets and props for an undetermined amount of time after a show has been canceled, right? Especially when it takes a show fifteen years to decide to have a reunion. So after the set was destroyed when the old studio was razed in the ’70s, the show had to find a way to remake the old set. They used a town called Los Olivos in California for Mayberry and reconstructed the courthouse set in a park there as well.
How Did Ken Berry Get His Start?
Ken Berry, the actor who portrayed Sam Jones, got his start in show biz early in his life. At age 12 he was sure he wanted to be a dancer and a singer. After high school, he joined the military where his sergeant organized a talent contest. The winner would be featured on Arlene Francis’s Soldier Parade. As a man who always carried his tap shoes with him, Berry blew them away, won the contest, and headed to New York for his debut.
It Helps to Foster Connections
Jodie Foster’s brother Buddy guest starred on Mayberry RFD two different times. Years later, in 1980, he had a small role in one of his sister’s films, Foxes. Though they seem to help each other out in the film industry, their relationship doesn’t seem to be very strong. Buddy wrote a book chronicling his and Jodie’s childhood that Jodie called a “cheap cry for attention and money.”