The Andy Griffith Show: Who Plays Cousin Virgil & What Happened To Him?

It's been decades since "The Andy Griffith Show" aired its final episode. And yet, the beloved family-friendly comedy never really left the airwaves, continuing to captivate fans with its heartfelt, Southern-fried charms in syndication. The series was, of course, fronted by screen legends like Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier. But those who've revisited the show over the years are no doubt surprised by just how many impressive guest stars and supporting players appear opposite the main cast, including iconic low-key scene-stealer Michael J. Pollard.

The actor made his lone appearance on "The Andy Griffith Show" during a Season 2 episode titled "Cousin Virgil," portraying the episode's titular character. Virgil was indeed a relative of Knott's beloved, bumbling Deputy Barney Fife. Unlike the outspoken, often outlandish Barney, Virgil is an awkward, soft-spoken sort with a penchant for making a blunder of even the simplest of tasks. It's eventually discovered by Griffith's kind-hearted Sherriff Andy Taylor that Virgil is actually quite a competent fellow when left to his own devices.

As it was, Virgil was one of the biggest roles of Pollard's early career, with the actor more than holding his own opposite his renowned co-stars. Pollard would amass a resume of notable credits until his 2019 death brought his storied career to an unexpected end. And Virgil was hardly the biggest role he'd play along the way.

Michael J. Pollard was a celebrated supporting player in Hollywood until his passing

Given his distinctive looks, Michael J. Pollard was often cast in offbeat, outsider roles like Virgil throughout his career. To his credit, the actor leaned whole-heartedly into the type-casting net, helping create some of the most memorable oddballs the film and television world has seen. Said career began on TV, with Pollard landing roles in "Alfred Hitchcock Presents" and "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis." After his "Andy Griffith" spot, Pollard spent the next few years gigging around town on other hits like "The Lucy Show," "Gunsmoke," and "Lost in Space."

In 1966, Pollard's cherubic features helped him land a role on "Star Trek," portraying the leader of a feral group of youngsters who have a tricky encounter with the U.S.S. Enterprise crew. A year later, Pollard landed arguably the biggest part of his career when he was cast as real-life getaway driver C.W. Moss in the legendary crime drama "Bonnie and Clyde." The film found the actor working alongside icons Warren Beatty, Faye Dunaway, and Gene Hackman. And like those luminaries, Pollard's scene-stealing work in the venerated film would make him an Academy Award nominee, thus cementing Pollard as a primetime supporting player in Hollywood.

Pollard delivered equally memorable work in dozens of film and television projects thereafter. That includes playing a kind but tragically stubborn homeless man opposite Bill Murray in "Scrooged," a tech-savvy cop Bug Bailey in Beatty's "Dick Tracy," and a left-field cameo in the opening moments of Rob Zombie's cult classic "House of 1000 Corpses."