I saw a touching biography/documentary some time back on cable about
the casting of the Andy Griffith show. According to Andy, he had gone
into the casting process to actually be Barney and was almost assured
of the role. So he was in on the casting for Andy's role when Don came
in to try out for either role.
Further along into the casting process, the two began to read together
to see if the chemistry was there. According to Andy, it was apparent
after a couple of run throughs that Don was funnier and had a lot
better grasp of the character they were looking for in Barney. Andy
suggested that they trade roles and read again, and history was made.
I love the fact that we never heard anything about his heroin
addiction, wife beating, rampant cheating, alcoholism, sexual deviance,
or any other of the things that seem so prevalent today. I don't ever
recall reading a bad word about that man.
To me, he will always be Barney. Yellling at Oits because he wouldn't
stay in the jail cell (even though the key was in reach), on the ready
to fight crime wherever it might be, and a trusted and true friend to
I think about his character at least once a week. I never seem to go a
week without running into a "Barney". You know the guy, he makes a
comment he thinks is profound, rolls back on his heels, hitches his
thumbs in his belt and hoists his pants up while giving a self
important sniff. No one ever did that bit better than 'ol Barn.