If it weren’t for Bill Idelson’s iconic Vic and Sade radio show, the classic TV utopia of The Andy Griffith Show may never have existed.
Before televisions were a staple in American homes, radio broadcasts were all the rage. And one of the most popular shows from the Golden Age of Radio centered around the daily life of a father named Vic, a mother named Sade, and an adopted son named Rush in the idyllic Crooper, Illinois.
The story was a satirical look at the small-town lifestyle from 1932 to 1946. And each week, millions of fans tuned in to hear what the trio was up to. Listeners also got the chance to hear people like President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Cary Grant, and Kurt Vonnegut lend themselves to the stories.
Idelson voiced Rush in the story. And when he grew up, he went from radio personality to screen actor to screenwriter. And through that path, he found a new small town called Mayberry.
When The Andy Griffith Show debuted in 1960, Bill Idelson was just transitioning to his new career as a writer. And by 1964, he had seen enough of the Mayberry antics to know that he had a unique background that could help him bring the town to life. Mayberry was just like Rush’s old stomping grounds in Crooper.
Bill Idelson Penned Numerous Scripts for ‘The Andy Griffith Show’
So for three years, Idelson wrote 19 episodes for Andy Griffith. And as he once told The Chicago Tribune per MeTV, Griffith saw the connections between Crooper and Mayberry, too. And he “repeatedly told Idelson that The Andy Griffith Show was an attempt to recreate the small-town lunacy of Vic and Sade.”
While speaking to the Tribune, he also explained just how people imagined the world that Vic and Sade lived inside. And it admittedly bears a striking resemblance to the one that Sheriff Taylor and Barney Fife effortlessly patrolled decades later.
“The impression I got is that there were three different levels of Vic and Sade fans,” he said. “There were housewives who thought of it as a little slice-of-life, mirroring their own situation with a little humor. Then there were the people who were a little more hip, and they saw it as a kind of satire. Then there were the people who were really in the know who saw it for what it was: a deep inspection of the small-town human being and what happens to them.”
Because of Idelson’s adept understanding of Mayberry, he won a Writer’s Guild award for an episode titled The Shoplifters in 1964.