You do enough binge viewing of “The Andy Griffith Show” and you begin to notice strange little quirks to the show. The stories that tell of Mayberry’s law enforcement officers, their loves, family members and the errant criminals who pass through town have occasionally been referred to as achieving sitcom perfection. Well, perfection, like the color blue, is a relative term. Continuity of closing credits was never a major concern of the writers of the “The Andy Griffith Show.” Especially when it comes to the names of the characters that appeared in those credits.
Why be scared of the potential of confusing your audiences when it was so much easier to not keep a continuity Bible? Consider that character actor Allan Melvin–Sam the Butcher from “The Brady Bunch”–showed up in Mayberry eight different times over the course of the show. Eight different episodes in which he played eight completely different characters, ranging from a hotel detective to an Army recruiter to grocery store employee who bullies Barney Fife to a guy from out of town who bullies Howard the county clerk. Audiences apparently were okay with seeing the same face playing a different guy in Mayberry.
But, to be completely honest here, audiences were far more accepting of discontinuity in casting back in the first two decades of TV. As one who is a student of the secret history of TV credits I can tell you that one of the most extreme examples was “The Aldrich Family” which ran from 1949 to 1953 and featured no less than five different actors playing the role of Henry Aldrich, four different actresses playing Alice Aldrich, three different faces for Mary Aldrich and three actors playing Homer Brown. So different actors playing the same character and the same actor playing different characters does not really set “The Andy Griffith Show” apart when it comes to a lack of credit continuity. So what does set “The Andy Griffith Show” apart from the rest when it comes to a lack of continuity? One word.
Sometimes it seems as if every single inhabitant of Mayberry who didn’t belong to the Taylor or Fife families sported the last name Beasley. Clearly, some tie exists between Andy Griffith and a real life Beasley clan because the resemblance to characters on “The Andy Griffith Show” who were ever named Beasley–if only for a single episode–cannot be purely coincidental.
For instance, every fan of “The Andy Griffith Show” or “Gomer Pyle, USMC” knows that Gomer had a cousin named Goober. Goober Pyle became the replacement for Gomer once he left to join the Marines. What may have slipped past you is the fact that when Goober was merely a character referenced rather than seen, he was referenced as Goober Beasley. The same thing goes for Floyd the barber. Not only was he played by a completely different actor in his first appearance, but once Howard McNear made the role of Floyd the barber his own, he went from being Floyd Beasley to Floyd Lawson. (Don’t even get me started on the marital situation in which Floyd at one time or another was married, single, widowed, the father of a son, the father of a daughter and completely childless!)
A fair number of that Beasley clan popped up on the mean streets of Mayberry only once or maybe twice. Remember when Andy sent a trio of young bucks to the drugstore to take the heat off what he considered marriage intentions from Ellie Walker? The creepy guy with the muscles was named Charlie Beasley. Even many hardcore fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” may not recognize the free-spirited bodybuilder Charlie Beasley is played by the same actor who took on the role of uptight, sharply-dressed state inspector Sam Allen. The young but possible woman who passed by when Barney and Thelma Lou were on the street checking out potentials who could become “A Wife for Andy” was named Lorraine Beasley.
Barney Fife’s little something on the side who worked at the diner was–like Goober the first few seasons of his existence–never seen, but only referenced in dialogue. Usually mentioned only as Juanita down at the diner, she also belongs to the club of “The Andy Griffith Show” characters who were part of the Beasley clan. Some other Beasley family members who were only talked about and never seen include Andrew Beasley whose son famously used to go out with Emma Lars. And speaking of dating couples, did you hear that Virginia Beasley and Early Gilley got engaged?