Andy Griffith made it clear that his hometown was no Mayberry.
In a 1998 interview, Andy Griffith is heard dismissing the claims that his hometown was the basis for the fictional Mayberry. On The Andy Griffith Show, the actor plays the role of the Sheriff of a small town named Mayberry. Griffith wasn’t happy that people in his hometown of Mount Airy, N.C. were making claims that it was based on their own town.
“They think that I based the show on Mount Airy. I’ve argued about this too long. I don’t care. Let them think what they want to think,” Griffith says in his interview with Archives of American Television.
Is Mayberry Based on Andy Griffith’s Hometown?
The TV legend has obviously been asked this question repeatedly. It sounds as though he’s taking a stance against locals’ beliefs that their North Carolina town is the idea behind the famous, friendly, and quaint town of Mayberry is.
When speaking of his hometown, he denies some things but has given up trying to change people’s minds who are convinced they’re right.
“A barber up there says he cut my hair when I was a child, h*ll, he’ll have to be 115 years old,” he says.
An example of a person claiming to have interacted with the young Andy is longtime barber Russell Hiatt.
Longtime barber Russell Hiatt still claims he has cut Andy’s hair.
Let ‘Em Believe What They Want To Believe
Andy Griffith passed away on July 3, 2012 at the age of 86. He died of a heart attack in his home.
Previous to his death, Griffith answered questions about the TV show in a 2 1/2 hour video interview by The Archives of American Television.
The interview also explored his career in show business. Of course, he was asked the question that a kind, generous, and happy man finds deplorable. You guessed it… “Is Mayberry based on your hometown?” and “What was the inspiration behind Mayberry?”
He claims that the town wasn’t even his idea. The show’s producers created the town of Mayberry for The Andy Griffith Show.
“At first Sheldon [Leonard] didn’t want it to be in North Carolina, he just wanted it to be somewhere in the South,” he explains. “And I hate these made-up names. So, we have Mount Pilot which there’s a place called Pilot Mountain up near Mount Airy. But I gradually started slipping in real towns in North Carolina like Asheville, and Raleigh, and Silver City. And it became, during that first year, it became a town in North Carolina.”
Mount Airy Local Andy Griffith Returns Home
When Andy went back to his hometown for a special dedication of the Andy Griffith Parkway, he once again gave the desperately needed answer about where the idea of Mayberry came from.
“People started saying Mayberry was based on Mount Airy. Sure sounds like it doesn’t it,” Griffith said in 2002. He said that was the answer he gave to the large crowd that had gathered in front of his public-viewing home in 1957.
Several years later, Andy Griffith returned to his hometown of Mount Airy and gave his final public appearance dedicating a TV Land statue.
“I think it has to be based on something,” says Mount Airy visitor, the Ohio-based Bill Snyder. “It’s still in me, and I’m going to visit again when I come through. It really don’t matter what he’s saying.”