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What The Cast Of The Andy Griffith Show Did After The Show Ended

In 1960, Andy Griffith appeared as Sheriff Andy Taylor for the first time on an episode of "The Danny Thomas Show." A few months and a little refining later, "The Andy Griffith Show" premiered on CBS, and over the course of the next eight years became an iconic piece of American television.

Instantly memorable for its theme song, colorful cast of characters, and Griffith's own folksy wisdom, "The Andy Griffith Show" was one of the biggest TV hits of the 1960s, ending its run at number one in the ratings and spawning two successful spinoffs, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." and "Mayberry RFD." The series also cemented several members of its cast as cultural icons for the rest of their lives and beyond. In the process, it made unknown actors into stars, made known actors into superstars, and helped launch some of the most venerable entertainment careers of the 20th century. Whether we're talking about the launch of one of the greatest character comedians to ever appear on the big and small screens or the roots of one of America's most successful feature film directors, "The Andy Griffith Show" was the beginning of a lot of American entertainment greatness. Here's what the main cast of the series did after the show ended in 1968.

Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith was able to parlay a guest sketch appearance on "The Danny Thomas Show" into what ultimately become one of the most beloved, enduring, and memorable programs in the history of American television. "The Andy Griffith Show" debuted in 1960, and over the course of eight seasons Griffith was able to make Sheriff Andy Taylor a kind of soulful conscience figure for small-town America, becoming a household name in the process.

When the series ended in 1968, Griffith went on to make guest appearances on the spinoff series "Mayberry RFD," but was eager to move on from the Andy Taylor character despite the popularity of Mayberry and its residents. He spent the 1970s starring in a number of TV projects with varying degrees of success, including "Headmaster," "The New Andy Griffith Show" (in which he played a small-town mayor instead of a small-town sheriff), "Centennial," "Salvage 1," and more.

In 1986, Griffith agreed to reprise his most beloved role for the TV movie special "Return to Mayberry," but that same year he also finally felt lightning strike a second time when he created another iconic character with "Matlock," the wise country lawyer who was a hit for nine seasons and nearly 200 episodes. Even after "Matlock," Griffith kept working, making TV and film appearances and voice acting, until his death in 2012 at the age of 86. His last major role was in the romantic comedy "Play the Game" in 2009.

Ron Howard

In his first major TV role, the boy then known as Ronny Howard embodied wholesome mischief as Andy Taylor's precocious young son Opie, growing up in front of America's eyes across eight seasons of "The Andy Griffith Show." For Howard, it was only the beginning, something he proved just a few years after the Griffith show ended when he landed the lead role of Richie Cunningham in another beloved American sitcom, "Happy Days," which ran for 11 seasons into the mid-1980s and became a cultural icon in its own right. Despite his success on that series, and in films like "American Graffiti," acting was not necessarily Howard's ultimate ambition.

Beginning with "Grand Theft Auto" (which he also starred in) in 1977, Howard began a career as a director that's since made him one of the most successful filmmakers of his generation. His hits range from the 1980s to the present day, and include everything from "Splash" to "Willow" to "Apollo 13" to "A Beautiful Mind" (for which he won Oscars as both director and producer) to "Solo: A Star Wars Story."

As a producer, he's arguably even more influential. As the cofounder, alongside Brian Grazer, of Imagine Entertainment, Howard has become one of the most powerful production players in Hollywood, which his hand in everything from "Arrested Development" to "Cowboys & Aliens" to "Genius."

Don Knotts

As the gung-ho Deputy Barney Fife on "The Andy Griffith Show," Don Knotts was able to build a reputation week after week as one of America's most gifted and beloved character comedians. As a result, while he guest-starred on the series throughout its run, he left the main cast after the first five seasons to pursue a film career. That career quickly blossomed, giving Knotts comedy hits like "The Incredible Mr. Limpet," "The Reluctant Astronaut," "The Shakiest Gun in the West," "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," and more.

Knotts never entirely left television behind, though, and after years of guest starring appearances he landed an unforgettable recurring role as nosy landlord Ralph Furley on the hit series "Three's Company." In the 1980s, he reprised his role as Barney Fife in the TV special "Return to Mayberry," and even joined Andy Griffith on his series "Matlock" for several guest starring episodes as Les Calhoun.

By the 2000s, Knotts' output slowed to sporadic guest appearances in film and television and the occasional voice acting role, but he remained a beloved figure in American comedy. He died in 2006 at the age of 81.

Frances Bavier

Frances Bavier had been a respected character actor since the early 1950s by the time "The Andy Griffith Show" rolled around, with film roles including "The Day the Earth Stood Still," "The Stooge," and "My Wife's Best Friend," and frequent television appearances in everything from "The Loretta Young Show" to "City Detective" to "It's a Great Life." Despite her prolific output in the '50s, it was her work in the 1960s as Andy Taylor's doting, often worried Aunt Bee that made her a part of television history forever. Even today, the character is synonymous with loving, warm country housekeeping, and Bavier's commitment to the character made that happen.

Unfortunately, Bavier's screen acting career didn't endure beyond the success of "The Andy Griffith Show." Though she reprised the Aunt Bee role for the spinoff series "Mayberry RFD" and made a small appearance in the 1974 film "Benji," Bavier spent her later years in quiet retirement in North Carolina, shying away from the spotlight and not participating in the reunion movie "Return to Mayberry." She died in 1989 at the age of 86.

Howard McNear

As television gained more prominence in American life throughout the 1950s, Howard McNear turned years of experience as a radio performer into a series of celebrated roles onscreen. His pre-"Andy Griffith" TV credits include dozens of roles on series like "The Donna Reed Show" and his film career includes "Bell, Book and Candle" and "Bundle of Joy."

As Floyd the Barber, McNear became an essential party of life Mayberry. Whether he was a direct part of Andy and Barney's adventures or just a passive observer, he was always there with a clever line or two to contribute to the overall sense of Mayberry as a community where the barbershop was the center of gossip and, in some ways, governance of the town.

Though he divided his time on the show with film roles in now-classics like "Blue Hawaii" and "Irma la Douce," Floyd would ultimately become McNear's last major character. Early in the show's run, he suffered a stroke that took him out of Mayberry for a year. Griffith and company encouraged him to return, but when McNear finally did come back to the series, he usually had to do so from a seated position, as he had limited use of the left side of his body for the rest of his life. After a series of mini-strokes further limited his ability to perform, McNear left the show for good in 1967. He died of complications due to pneumonia in 1969 at the age of 63.

Jim Nabors

There are many success stories springing from the cast of "The Andy Griffith Show," but one of the earliest came through Jim Nabors. A comedian and actor who got his big break when Griffith himself discovered him and cast him in the series, Nabors became an immediate hit on the show as gas station attendant and mechanic Gomer Pyle. The character proved so popular that Nabors became one of the first series regular to leave the show for another project, in this case his own spinoff series.

"Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." ran for five season and kept Nabors on TV screens as a comedy star throughout the 1960s. His success as the character was enough to allow Nabors to build a career as a performer outside of the characters he was playing, and he spent the 1970s hosting his own variety series and specials and appearing as a guest performer on everything from "The Carol Burnett Show" to "The Sonny and Cher Show" to "The Hollywood Squares."

Amid these guest appearances, Nabors continued to act occasionally and was also an accomplished singer who performed frequently around the United States. He died in 2017 at the age of 87.

George Lindsey

When Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle character became successful enough to launch his own spinoff series, "The Andy Griffith Show" needed an equally goofy character to fill the void. Enter George Lindsey as Gomer's cousin Goober Pyle. After launching his screen acting career with various TV guest roles in the 1960s, Lindsey became a star during his time in Mayberry, finishing out "The Andy Griffith Show" and sticking around for the follow-up series "Mayberry RFD."

With his time in Mayberry over, Lindsey continued working regularly throughout the 1970s, appearing in films like "Charley and the Angel," voicing characters in Disney's "Robin Hood" and "The Rescuers," and reprising the Goober character on "Hee Haw." His output slowed considerably by the 1980s, but he still made time to return as Goober one last time for the TV movie special "Return to Mayberry." Apart from occasional acting appearances, Lindsey spent much of his later years doing charity work in his home state of Alabama, establishing a scholarship fund in his name and hosting a celebrity golf tournament that ultimately raised more than $1,000,000 for the Special Olympics. He died in 2021 at the age of 83.

Aneta Corsaut

After making her feature film debut in 1958's "The Blob," Aneta Corsaut landed several major TV appearances, including "The Gertrude Berg Show" and "Death Valley Days," before she joined "The Andy Griffith Show" in 1963 as local school teacher Helen Crump. Originally emerging as a key player in Opie Taylor's childhood, Helen soon became a regular love interest for Andy Taylor. Their courtship progressed throughout the series, and they were finally married at the launch of the show's follow-up, "Mayberry RFD."

After her time in Mayberry, Corsaut continued adding major TV credits to her resume, including guest spots on "Columbo," "Emergency!" and regular roles on "House Calls" and "Days of Our Lives." Near the end of her career she reunited with Andy Griffith for the 1986 TV movie reunion "Return to Mayberry," once again playing Helen Crump Taylor, and then for a recurring role on Griffith's hit legal drama "Matlock." Sadly, "Matlock" marked her last major acting appearance, and she died in 1995 at the age of 62.

Hal Smith

After spending the 1950s building his resume through various roles, including numerous TV credits on series like "I Married Joan" and "Broken Arrow," Hal Smith stumbled into TV history on "The Andy Griffith Show" as Otis, the Mayberry town drunk. Though it's a somewhat dark side of Mayberry's story in some respects, Smith's portrayal of Otis was characterized by his sense of warmth and fairness, which he usually demonstrated by locking himself in a cell at the sheriff's office to sleep things off for the night. Though he only appeared in a few dozen episodes, Smith became a TV icon thanks to the role.

Because his participation on "The Andy Griffith Show" was somewhat limited, Smith was able to keep putting in work elsewhere throughout the 1960s, appearing in shows like "Death Valley Days," "The Lucy Show," "Petticoat Junction," and more. It was also around this time that he began to really build out his resume as an accomplished and versatile voice actor. Though he's perhaps best known now in voice acting circles for his work as Owl in various "Winnie the Pooh" stories, Smith's list of credits is vast, and includes everything from "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" to "Heathcliff" to "The Smurfs" to "DuckTales." He continued his prolific career of voice work right up until his death in 1994 at the age of 77.

Betty Lynn

After launching her career in radio and on the stage, Betty Lynn began appearing in films and TV series throughout the 1940s and 1950s, with credits including "Father Was a Fullback," "Cheaper by the Dozen," and several episodes of "Matinee Theatre." As Thelma Lou on "The Andy Griffith Show," she appeared in only a little more than two dozen episodes, but made a lasting impression as the girlfriend of Deputy Barney Fife.

After her last appearance on the series in 1966, Lynn continued to make regular appearance on television throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with recurring roles on "My Three Sons" and "Family Affair" and guest-starring roles on "Mod Squad," "Police Story," "Barnaby Jones," and others. In 1986 she reprised the role of Thelma Lou in the "Return to Mayberry" TV Movie, and became one of numerous "Andy Griffith" alums to guest star on Griffith's hit series "Matlock." As the 1980s ended, Lynn largely retired from acting, but she hasn't entirely vanished. Now in her 90s, Lynn makes regular appearances at The Andy Griffith Museum in North Carolina, and a note on the museum's website said she hopes to resume those appearances to greet fans after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hope Summers

Hope Summers was already in her 50s when she began her screen acting career with television appearances in shows like "Hawkins Falls" and "Alfred Hitchcock Presents," but she quickly established herself as a formidable character actor able to take on an often surprisingly diverse slate of roles. As Aunt Bee's best friend Clara Edwards on "The Andy Griffith Show," she became a key part of the extended Taylor family, adding an extra dimension to Bee's character beyond her relationship with Andy and Barney.

When "The Andy Griffith Show" ended in 1968, Summers was one of the cast members who stayed on for the follow-up series "Mayberry RFD," and that same year she showed her versatility by also appearing in the iconic horror film "Rosemary's Baby." She continued to work regularly throughout the 1970s, appearing in TV series like "Night Gallery" and "M*A*S*H" and in films like "Charley Varrick" and "Foul Play." Her last film appearance was in "Smokey and the Good Time Outlaws" in 1978, and she died the next year at the age of 77.

Jack Dodson

After a few guest television roles in the early 1960s on shows like "The Fugitive" and "The Virginian," Jack Dodson found steady work on "The Andy Griffith Show" when Griffith cast him as county clerk Howard Sprague in the show's sixth season. Though it was late in the show's run, Dodson was able to add an extra layer of humor and color to the show's final years, making Sprague a memorable character.

Dodson carried on the Sprague character to "Mayberry RFD" after "The Andy Griffith Show," then found steady work on TV and in films throughout the 1970s and the 1980s. His film appearances include classics like "The Getaway" and "Something Wicked This Way Comes," and his TV work ranged from "All's Fair" to "In the Beginning" to "Happy Days." In the 1980s he landed a recurring role on the medical drama "St. Elsewhere," and in 1986 he joined much of the rest of the "Griffith" case for the "Return to Mayberry" TV special. His last major role was a recurring appearance on the drama series "Homefront," and he died in 1994 at the age of 63.