Andy Griffith Explained Why They Called Him Andy Taylor On The Andy Griffith Show
Andy Griffith was portrayed as a genuine hillbilly by the media when he first entered Hollywood. Interviews with the actor in the 1960s were reminiscent of poor imitations of Mark Twain’s style. Writers made a concerted effort to accurately transcribe his Southern accent, using apostrophes and emphasizing the letter “H” in his quotes.
For instance, an article headline during the premiere of The Andy Griffith Show declared, “Ah Wouldn’t Lose Mah Accent fo’ a $100 Bill.” Written by John Crosby for The Miami Herald, the article had a condescending tone, with quotes like “Ev’body’s mean in the mawnin’, whah, mah wife don’ speak.” However, it provided interesting insights. Andy explained why the sitcom named his character Taylor.
It may seem peculiar that The Andy Griffith Show revolved around a character named Andy Taylor, but such naming conventions were commonplace at the time. From Danny Williams on The Danny Thomas Show to Doris Martin on The Doris Day Show to Donna Stone on The Donna Reed Show, it was a standard practice.
Griffith offered a fascinating and logical explanation for this change, which could also shed light on the general practice. Studios wanted to create a distinction between the real actors and their characters, particularly concerning their love lives.
“Why cay-ant ah use mah own nayme?” Andy asked the producers. (Yes, we warned you.) “The tole me because ah’m a married mayan. Been married ten years and had two children. On the show ah’m a widower with one child an it wouldn’t do for me to be makin’ eyes at a girl if I was married 10 years.”
They were concerned that audiences would have difficulty differentiating between the real person and the character of the Sheriff. Andy Griffith wore a wedding ring, so he couldn’t simply pursue a romantic relationship with Ellie Walker. Hence, they named the character “Taylor.”
However, there was one aspect Andy couldn’t change—his “mean eyes.”
“Ah got mean lookin’ eyes, ah have,” he remarked. “Cayant he’p it. All my people got mean lookin’ eyes.”
Clearly, they heavily emphasized his accent, didn’t they?