As we look back on nostalgic television decades later, there are plenty of quirks and surprises to delight fans new and old.The Andy Griffith Show is now 50 years old, and since its premiere in 1960, a lot has changed in Hollywood and in public tastes.
Still, the classic sitcom has managed to stay endearing, and fans are now excited to discover little details about the original series. Hearing that there was a feud on set or that the intro sequence had a problem provides some interesting anecdotes.
What fans might not know, however, is that the series also has something to do with some unsavory part of America’s history. The Andy Griffith Show was running at the heart of the “Red Scare”, and he challenged the Hollywood blacklist designed to punish actors seen as Communist sympathizers.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ premiered in 1960
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The Andy Griffith Show first aired in 1960, and it was sort of a spinoff of a less successful series calledThe Danny Thomas Show. The family series was a success in large part because of its healthy image which allowed viewers at the time to escape the alarming news and civil unrest raging in the country.
At least for now,The Andy Griffith Show filled the TV screen, all thoughts of conflict in the streets were swept away by Mayberry’s mild antics.
Mayberry was located somewhere in North Carolina, and the story centered around widower Andy Taylor who was raising his son Opie with the help of Aunt Bea while also serving as the small town sheriff. While Andy’s relationship with his son added a heartwarming factor, it was mainly the dynamic between the sheriff and his goofy deputy Barney Fife that got the laughs.
Hollywood’s ‘red fear’ gripped Hollywood for years
By the timeThe Andy Griffith Show established in 1960, the peak of Red Scare in America had already waned, but that didn’t mean it was gone. In fact, the Hollywood blacklist was still alive and well when the show began filming.
Many creators at the time were reluctant to play someone who had been deemed suspect, but some blacklisted actors still managed to have successful careers despite the stigma.
AsHistory.com reports, the blacklist dates back to 1947 and the “Hollywood Ten”. After World War II which ended in 1945, the United States was engaged in a cold war with the Soviet Union. Largely because of this conflict, many Americans feared the spread of Communism and saw it as a threat to the very heart of America.
Government control of these activities resided in the House Anti-American Activities Committee (HUAC), and the committee had its eyes on Hollywood as a hotbed of Communist ideas. Many people related to the film industry have been subpoenaed to appear before the committee and face intense and invasive questions about their privacy and thoughts.
In 1947, ten actors and filmmakers opposed the committee as an overrun. As a result, these ten people were sentenced to prison terms and banned from working in major Hollywood studios. Many other actors and filmmakers loosely associated with the Hollywood Ten would face similar treatment until the ban ended in the 1960s.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ defied the blacklist
While the show is known for its wholesome, all-American vibe, The Andy Griffith Showmanaged to plunge into a controversy in its time.
In fact, the creators defied the blacklist and hired Coby Ruskin as a director despite his inclusion on the list of infected Hollywood members. Movie Oracle explains, the show was Ruskin’s first work in the U.S. after a period of exile in the U.K. he would continue to have a long career in Hollywood which included work on shows likeThe Doris Day Show andThe Bill Cosby Show.
In addition, nine episodes of The Andy Griffith Show were credited to a screenwriter named David Adler, who was actually a man named Frank Tarloff. After being blacklisted in 1953 by the United States House Activities Committee, Tarloff worked under the pseudonym and later won an Oscar for Father Goose.
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