Mayberry, KKK?

Is anyone else as creeped-out by “quaint, bucolic” Mayberry as I am? Maybe it’s because I’m one o’ them “gay-lovin’, Godless, New York Jews,” but this show has always given me the willies, even as a kid. Last night I saw a bit of an episode on TVLand: Andy is teasing Helen Crump about wanting to run for office, as everyone knows that “womenfolk shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about such things.”

Ever see a black or Jew or Asian in Mayberry? Other than the civil rights protesters Andy made Barney bury behind the barn, I mean? I’ll bet poor Otis drinks so much because he know if anyone found out he was gay, they’d have another stoning, like the one they had back in '49 when that Mexican moved into town . . . And you just KNOW Floyd the barber is doing unspeakable things to Opie when no one’s around . . .

I dunno. My worst nightmare would be to travel cross-country and have a flat tire just as night was falling in Mayberry . . . Now Hooterville accepted its weirdnesses! No one even thought twice about Alf and Ralph, or the Ziffels and their pig!

Drew and Josh Alan Friedman addressed this issue in their 1978 two-pager “The Andy Griffith Show,” which originally appread in Art Spiegelman’s avant-garde RAW magazine, and was reprinted in their first collection, Any Similarity to Persons Living or Dead is Purely Coincidental (1985).

They depicted the town residents as goodnatured mud-loving crackers, obsessed with Aunt Bea’s fresh pie, until a black man drives into town and attempts to purchase gas, at which point they lynch him.

Grim and heavy-handed; not the Friedman’s finest hour.

Sprague’s not a Jewish name?

Well, I’ll be. I had always just assumed Howard was Jewish. Well, he’s quite obviously gay, so I guess that’ll have to do.

And yes, I do remember seeing black folks in Mayberry. I’m not conversant enough with the show to give a citation for it, but I remember thinking it was something I hadn’t seen before.

Weren’t their also some asian characters? At least in the later- poorer-quality-color episodes. I seem to remember the Taylors going to the chinese restaurant in one episode.

Has anyone else heard the song “Me ‘n’ Opie (Down by the duck pond)” by BR-549? It’s supposedly about the lost episode. The intro is “It’s a tale of drug use and sexual deviance. Should be right up your alley.”

Oh, yeah, I’ll bet a family of Chinese lawyers and doctors moved into town, but they were “advised” to open either a restaurant or a laundry if they know what’s good for them. “Waaalll, Mr. Chinkie-man, y’all don’t want to have to spend time in the garage with Goober, now does ya?”

Poor Howard Sprague., He always did look kinda nervous and jumpy, now we know why. Terrified the mailman would look behind the brown wrapper and find his copy of The Advocate . . .

Thanks, Eve, for taking my accidentally :)-deprived post in the spirit in which it was intended!


In the original “Andy Griffith” series, I don’t recall an overwhelming ethnic presence.

However, in the successor “Mayberry RFD” series, which ran for an additional three seasons, one of the recurring supporting characters was indeed black, and his son was a playmate of “Mike” (Ken Berry’s TV son, portrayed by Jodie Foster’s brother–wow did his career ever take off).

Also, in one episode of “Mayberry RFD,” Roy Glenn, best known for the portrayal of heavyweight champ “Rum Daniels,” who stole the fickle heart of Dorothy Dandridge’s “Carmen Jones,” and for various character roles in the old “Amos ‘n’ Andy” TV series played a professor–although technically that shouldn’t count. He was in “the city,” not Mayberry proper.

Strangely, some years ago, I ran into a young, fresh-faced redheaded fellow from Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the real-life inspiration for Mayberry, and birthplace of Andy Griffith.

He claimed it was a bizarre, nightmarish place to grow up.

We ended up having a short, passionate affair. Throughout which I couldn’t shake the bizarre and disturbing mental image that I was, in a way, doing Opie.

Let’s keep in mind that it was a television show that ran between 1960 and 1968. In 1967 it was a big deal that STar Trek had a black female bridge officer. Did you expect a show set in a small southern town in 1960 to be filled with diversity?

Bing a “New York jew” maybe you don’t have much experience in the rural south. There are many rural towns where you’d be hard pressed to find a face that wasn’t white.


Well . . . Doing some research here . . . It seem the 1960–68 series is the one that creeps me out. In ‘68, “The Andy Griffith Show” was lurched out of the Jew-lynchin’ 1920s and became “Mayberry RFD,” and they got that nice-lookin’ feller from “F Troop” to take the reins, till the whole town was banished into the mists in 1971.

I see Howard Sprague is one of the few to stay on through both incarnations—wonder if he got nellier after 1968? Did Aunt Bee finally admit she and Clara Edwards were lovers? Did Floyd the barber’s posthumous NAMBLA membership come through?

MrVisible—I am SO impressed! Not as impressed as if you’d had an afair with Eb, but I always was more of a “Green Acres” gal . . .

In the black-and-white episodes, you would see black people in crowd shots, but I don’t remember any black characters.

But then again, name a show from that era which did have black characters. I don’t remember seeing too many on Leave it to Beaver.

Aww, but I’m spoiling the fun, aren’t I? Carry on.

(Southerners sure are violent bigots!! Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…)

I remember clearly seeing a black football coach in Mayberry. In fact, this football coach taught Andy and Opie that it’s possible to be a star athlete AND a cultured musician (he was quite a piano player, too).

Rent the movie A Face in the Crowd. Andy Griffith is TURBOCREEPY …everything scary about Mayberry brought to the big city.

Good gawd…would somebody please move this to the Pit…it was a TV show, for chrissakes…I am SO sick of all this PC bullsht. Who’s gay, who’s black, who does what to whom…who gives a sht. It’s entertainment. If you don’t like it, turn the gosh darn thing to another channel. I’ve laughed at that show since I was a young 'un, and even now, 30 years later, it’s still a riot. Back in the early days of TV, it was talent that made the show, but nowadays, if you belong to a minority ethnic group, you’ve got a sitcom. Doesn’t matter if you’re capable or not, just the color of your skin. Give me a break. OK, gotta go…the Hughleys are on…

I gotta confess,Eve, I’m a tad surprised and disappointed that you are playing up such stereotypes. As has been pointed out, The Andy Griffith show was produced during the 1960s, when any appearance by a “Negro” (the PC term for black people back in the day) was a major casting sensation.

And how many black people appeared on *That Girl, The Odd Couple, * or any other NYC-set sitcoms?

Being a Southerner born and bred, I am just a tad offended at your insinuation that we are all a bunch of inbred, sheet-wearing, tobacco-chewing rednecks. May I remind you that most of the best American writers came from the South–Truman Capote, William Faulkner, Flannery O’Connor, Carson McCullers, Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, to name a few?

In addition, we of the South still hold to the old virtues of gentility, courtesy, and breeding, qualities you Yankees could benefit from.

Not a television historian, but actually I think The Andy Griffith Show showed more cultural diversity than the norm for that time. As noted earlier, there were occasionally black people shown in crowd shots, although none was a speaking character. In the crowd shots, they’re certainly not segregated – there’s no “darkies have to stand here, and whites stand here.” In one episode, Aunt Bee goes into partnership with a Chinese businessman (they opened a restaurant). In another episode, an Italian family moves into Mayberry, and Ken Berry’s character scrambles around trying to find another place for them to live, convinced that Mayberry will never accept them. He finds out he’s wrong - the town welcomes them with open arms.

In the episode mentioned in the OP, it wasn’t Helen Crump who was planning to run for city council, it was Ellie Walker, the pharmacist (note that a woman held a position of authority and respect in the town). And while the whole “womenfolk shouldn’t worry about such things” mantra was voiced, the entire episode showed that such an opinion was wrong.

I’m a big TAGS fan, and it seems to me the show destroyed more stereotypes than it fostered.

But Eve, back in the fifties and early sixties, apparently New York City didn’t have blacks or Asians or Jews or gays either. Okay, they did have one Cuban but he ended up out in the suburbs.

FWIW, I saw the same episode last night…Helen Crump was no the character that ran for office (she didn’t join the show till later). The character’s name was Ellie May Walker.