The Farmer Rafe Hollister Passed On A Chance To Be One Of Mayberry’s Biggest Breakout Stars
The Andy Griffith Show is fondly remembered as a classic television series that captured the essence of small-town America with its endearing characters and timeless humor. One memorable character from the show was Rafe Hollister, the singing farmer portrayed by actor Jack Prince. While Prince’s appearances on the show were relatively few, his impact and lasting friendship with Andy Griffith and the cast were significant.
The story of how Jack Prince met Andy Griffith is a tale of chance encounters and mutual admiration. Their paths crossed during the Broadway show Destry Rides Again, where they discovered their shared talent for singing. Behind the scenes, the two actors bonded and became fast friends. Prince recalled how Andy would invite him to his dressing room for coffee, which led him to develop a taste for black coffee, just like his friend.
After their time on Broadway, Andy embarked on his iconic sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show, while Jack pursued singing engagements in Las Vegas. Despite the geographical distance, their friendship endured. Andy would make a point of attending Jack’s performances in Las Vegas, demonstrating his genuine support and appreciation for his friend’s talent.
During one of these visits, Andy proposed the idea of Jack making a guest appearance on The Andy Griffith Show. Jack enthusiastically agreed, as long as it didn’t conflict with his singing schedule. Andy accommodated his request, and in 1961, Jack made his first appearance on the show as the moonshiner Ben Sewell in the episode “Alcohol and Old Lace.”
Their friendship continued to flourish, and Jack reciprocated Andy’s visits by surprising him on the show’s set. It was during one of these unannounced visits that Andy extended an invitation for Jack to guest star in the week’s episode, resulting in his second appearance as Luke Rainier in “The Inspector.”
Jack’s second appearance on the show forged yet another significant friendship, this time with director Bob Sweeney. Intrigued by Jack’s Las Vegas performances, Sweeney made a trip to see him in action. Impressed by Jack’s singing prowess, Sweeney was determined to incorporate his talent into an episode of the show.
This led to the introduction of Rafe Hollister, the singing farmer, in the second season episode “Sheriff Barney.” The character’s popularity soared, leading to Prince’s grand appearance in the third season episode “Rafe Hollister Sings,” where he showcased his singing abilities to the delight of fans.
Although Jack only appeared as Rafe Hollister three times, the show’s producers recognized his appeal and attempted to convince him to become a regular on the series. However, Jack remained steadfast in his dedication to singing, politely declining the offer. He believed that acting would take a backseat until he could no longer pursue his true passion.
Despite his limited acting career, Jack Prince became a familiar face to fans of The Andy Griffith Show. His reprisal of the song “Lonesome Road” on the TNN talk show Nashville Now in 1991 was met with excitement, and a performance during an Andy Griffith Show cast reunion in the ’90s drew a large crowd of devoted fans.
Jack Prince may not have embraced acting as his primary pursuit, but he remained grateful for his time in Mayberry. He cherished the camaraderie and talent he experienced on the set, particularly with Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and director Bob Sweeney. The collaborative spirit and pride in their work left an indelible mark on him.
“The Andy Griffith Show” holds a special place in television history, and Jack Prince’s contributions as Rafe Hollister added a unique musical dimension to the show’s beloved cast of characters. His friendship with Andy Griffith, along with his passion for singing, made him an unforgettable part