The Andy Griffith Show has long been recognized as one of television’s most iconic sitcoms.
The series features Andy Griffith as the small-town Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor.
When the series began in 1960, Andy Griffith was an up-and-coming star.
So, why, with this name recognition, did the series creators decide to give the Sherriff the surname Taylor?
The reason, notes MeTV, is pretty simple. They wanted to separate the actor from the character.
According to Andy Griffith, the Andy Griffith Show producers thought it was important to separate the actor from the character. Why? Simple…because their lives were so entirely different.
Andy Griffith was married when the show began – and he had been for ten years.
The Andy Griffith Show star and his wife even had two children together.
This, of course, is in stark contrast to Andy Taylor’s back story.
While Andy Griffith was a married family man, Taylor was a widower who was often viewed as one of Mayberry’s most eligible bachelors.
According to Griffith, the producers of The Andy Griffith Show didn’t think it would be appropriate if Griffith was “makin’ eyes at a girl if I was married 10 years.”
At this point, it seems important to note that the practice of naming a show for the lead but then giving the characters entirely different names in the series was not uncommon for the time.
The Danny Thomas Show featured Thomas as Danny Williams; Doris Day played Doris Martin on The Doris Day Show, and Donna Reed portrayed Donna Stone on The Donna Reed Show.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Introduces Griffith As Sheriff Taylor
Sheriff Andy Taylor is a widower raising his son, Opie (Ron Howard) as a single father.
The Mayberry Sherriff may have his hands full raising his son while keeping law and order in the area. However, the officer gets plenty of help at home from his Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) who stands in as Opie’s “surrogate” mother.
Mayberry is also a small, sleepy community. So Taylor and his deputy, Barney Fife (Don Knotts) usually have it pretty easy.
Deciding to name his character something different from his own name was something Andy Griffith easily agreed to. In fact, the actor has said, he always felt that the writers were key to the success of the series.
“Our show I always felt fit into a special category because of the splendid writing that we had,” Andy Griffith says of the award-winning writing team.
“We had the best comedy writing at that time,” the longtime actor and comedian explains.
“The writer’s guild [has] a writer’s dinner every year in which they give out their own awards to their own people,” Griffith adds.
“One year, we had two scripts up for that award,” he continues. “So I always thought our show was a little special that way.”