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Encore Presentation: A Mayberry Reunion With Andy Griffith and Don Knotts

Aired February 26, 2006 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts return to the heartwarming days of "The Andy Griffith Show" and the best- loved small town in television history. Share some memories and the laughs with Andy and Don. Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife for the hour next on LARRY KING LIVE.
Good evening, and welcome to a very special edition of LARRY KING LIVE. I don't get this kind of pleasure often, to meet two of the giants in the history of American television and film, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, together again tonight. In Raleigh, North Carolina, is Mr. Griffith, the comedian, actor, recording artist. By the way, his latest album is a holiday collection of music and stories entitled "The Christmas Guest." He's probably most famous, of course, for his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1960 to 1968. And he also starred in one of the greatest movies ever made, "A Face in the Crowd." And Don Knotts is in Kansas City, Missouri, comedian extraordinaire, one of the great comedic actors ever, has appeared in movies, on stage, and on TV, of course, as Deputy Barney Fife on the old "Andy Griffith Show." That show has been off the air 35 years and still plays everywhere around the world.

Andy, we'll start with you. How did that show come about?

ANDY GRIFFITH: I'll tell you how it came about, Larry. I was in a musical called "Destry." It was not doing much business. As a matter of fact, we were on what you call "twofers," that's two tickets for one. And I went to Dave Lasfogel (ph). He was president of Louis Mars (ph). And I said, Mr. Lasfogel, I've struck out in movies and theater, and I don't want to go back to night clubs. Maybe I better try television. Well, he sent Sheldon Leonard (ph) to see me, and the upshot of it was we shot our pilot on "The Danny Thomas Show," and it sold. And that's how we started.

KING: Did you come up with the name Mayberry?

GRIFFITH: No, I didn't. I think a writer named Artie Stander (ph) came up with that.

KING: And Mr. Don Knotts in Kansas City, how did you get involved with it?

DON KNOTTS: Well, I happened to see the pilot. I was just about to finish with "The Steve Allen Show." They were going off the air. I saw Andy's pilot that was done on the old "Danny Thomas Show." And so I got the idea maybe he should have a deputy.

KING: In other words, on the pilot, there was no deputy.



KING: Now, Andy, when you got the call from Don, what did you -- did you like it right away?

GRIFFITH: Oh, I said, I didn't know you were out of work. Call Sheldon. And he called Sheldon, and he hired him right away. And that turned the show around. That made it -- that made the show happen.

KING: Now, you worked together, right, Don, in "No Time for Sergeants."

KNOTTS: Yes, we did.

KING: On the stage or just the movie?



KING: So you were friends, Andy?

GRIFFITH: Oh, yes. I'll tell you, we became friends -- I've told this story so many times, Don's getting tired of hearing it.

KING: But I ain't heard it.

GRIFFITH: The second day of the show, I had -- Don used to be in a show called "Bobby Benson of the B Bar Bee (ph)."

KNOTTS: On the radio.

GRIFFITH: A 15-minute radio show. And they had Tex and the Indian. Of course, they had Bobby. And they had an old man named Windy Wales (ph) that told tall tales. And he put his voice over like that. And so the second day of rehearsal, there was a preacher that introduced Will Stockdale (ph). Had this old man's voice. And I went up to Don and I said, Ain't you Windy Wales? And he was, and we became friends that day and have been friends ever since.

KING: Did it always work for you together, Don? I mean, "No Time for Sergeants," I remember, was a great play and a terrific movie. Did you two always have a good chemistry?

KNOTTS: Yes, we did, right from the beginning.


KNOTTS: Private, when I give the signal, place the two links in the interconnected relationship I have just demonstrated!

(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: That's not explainable, is it.

KNOTTS: No, it isn't. It really isn't.

KING: You either have it -- you have it or you don't, right, Andy?

GRIFFITH: It's there or it's not there. And it was there with us.

KING: Now, I understand there's a reason related to "The Andy Griffith Show" that you're in Raleigh, North Carolina, with us. Why?

GRIFFITH: Well, TVland, that plays our show, they decided to create a statue from "The Andy Griffith Show." There was a man who had a 1962 police car -- one of our cars, Don.


GRIFFITH: And he drove me in, and I got out of that car and I jumped up those stairs. And Larry Jones (ph) (UNINTELLIGIBLE) said, Are you ready? I said, Ready. And they dropped the curtain, and there was the statue. You haven't seen this, Don.

KNOTTS: No, I haven't.

GRIFFITH: But it is the beatin'-est (ph) thing you ever saw. It's me and Ronnie Howard at our ages then. Ronnie was 6. I was 33 or 34. And it looks exactly the way we did then.


GRIFFITH: Oh, it's -- it's something to see.

KING: And where's it at, Andy?

GRIFFITH: It's out at Pollen ph) Park.

KNOTTS: Oh, my. Great.

KING: What's it like to see yourself as a statue?


GRIFFITH: I've never done it before.

KING: You don't feel dead, right?


GRIFFITH: Oh, I loved it. I loved it.

KING: Don, whose idea was it when they conceived your part that you would be cousins?

KNOTTS: Oh, I don't know, but they only said that in one show. They just dropped that.

GRIFFITH: I think it was the first show, and that was just in the script for a joke.


KNOTTS: You see, Andy, I want the folks to realize that you picked me to be your deputy because you -- well, you looked over all the candidates for the job and you judged their qualifications and their character and their ability, and you come to the fair, the just and the honest conclusion that I was the best suited for the job. And I want to thank you, Cousin Andy.


KING: Andy, when you were first on this show for that wonderful hour we did, the retrospective of your career -- and we're going to touch aspects of both of your careers -- you almost started to cry when you talked about Don Knotts. And you said that Don -- in your opinion, Don Knotts was the key to the success of that show. Would you elaborate?

GRIFFITH: I think he was because in the beginning, I was supposed to be -- Don wasn't part of the picture. And I was supposed to be funny and tell little funny stories about the people in Mayberry. And when Don joined the show, by the second episode, I knew that Don should be funny and I should play straight for him. And that made -- that, I think, made the difference in the show.


GRIFFITH: And it gave -- it gave us so much latitude. We could do all manner of kinds of different stories that way.

KING: Was it easy for you to be a klutz?



KING: That came naturally to you.

KNOTTS: That's right.


KING: How did you avoid breaking up, Andy, working with him.

GRIFFITH: I didn't -- I didn't always get by. I laughed at him a lot.

KING: Easy to understand.

GRIFFITH: We laughed off camera a lot.

KNOTTS: Yes! We did a lot of laughing on the set, that's for sure.

KING: We're visiting with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, traveling Memory Lane with two of the giants. And we'll be right back.


KNOTTS: Let's -- let's go in shooting.

GRIFFITH: Easy, Barney! That's old Ben. He's a friend of ours. Ain't no call to go shooting at old Ben. We'll just move in and take him easy, like. Come on. Howdy, Ben! I say, Ben, you got company! We -- (SOUND OF GUNSHOTS)




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't shoot. I ain't got no gun.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Barney, what's the matter?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The deputy got him.



KING: We're back with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts of "The Andy Griffith Show."

Andy, they brought you back together for one revival, didn't they?

GRIFFITH: Yes. About -- oh, when was it, 10 years ago or something like that.


GRIFFITH: Or maybe longer than that. We did -- well, we did "Return to Mayberry" a number of years ago. And then we did -- we got together a few years after that and did one of these reunions.

KING: Yes.

GRIFFITH: And then we -- of course, we've done the one that was -- has already been on the air.

KING: And that leads up to, will there be another, Don?

KNOTTS: I don't know.

GRIFFITH: We're maybe getting too old for it now.


GRIFFITH: See, I'm 77 and Don's 79.

KING: Yes, but you both still act. You're doing a play, aren't you, Don?

KNOTTS: Yes, I am. I'm doing "On Golden Pond."

KING: Oh, is that the play you're doing in Kansas City?


KING: What a wonderful play.

KNOTTS: Yes, it is. And it's a very funny play.

KING: You like that part?

KNOTTS: Yes. It's fun. I'm having a lot of fun.

KING: Andy, you're still acting, aren't you?

GRIFFITH: Yes. I don't have a part right now, so if you know anybody that wants somebody...


KING: Would you do regular television again, Andy, even though you're 77?

GRIFFITH: Yes. I wouldn't like to do a regular series anymore, but there's been some talk about Dick van Dyke and I doing a mystery. I'd love to do that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's trying this case, your honor, Mr. Matlock or Dr. Sloan?

GRIFFITH: I'm trying the case, jackass!


KING: Don, would you come back on a regular basis?

KNOTTS: Oh, I think it would depend. Yes, I wouldn't mind, but I've been doing too much traveling. They (UNINTELLIGIBLE) keep me home.

KING: Don, were you always a comedic actor? Were you ever a stand-up comedian?

KNOTTS: I did some stand-up. I was never really comfortable with that, but I did it -- early in my career, I did.

KING: Where did Steve Allen find you? KNOTTS: I did his -- you know, he had -- at the time, he had "The Tonight Show."

KING: Right.

KNOTTS: And he had "The Tonight Show" and he had the weekly show.

KING: Right.

KNOTTS: And I did a routine on "The Tonight Show," and from that he...

GRIFFITH: Don -- when I took out -- I took out Don and Jim Nabors many years ago to Lake Tahoe, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) at Lake Tahoe. And Don did -- Don did quite a few minutes and scored heavy.

KNOTTS: I never felt comfortable doing it, though.

KING: No, you like being -- acting better, right?

KNOTTS: Yes. Much better.

GRIFFITH: I do, too. I like it better.

KING: Of course, you did stand-up, too, Andy.

GRIFFITH: Oh, yes. I started out as a stand-up.

KING: I saw your stand-up. I've forgotten where it was, New York or somewhere, and you were in a show. You did a routine -- well, of course, what it was, was football...

GRIFFITH: That's correct.

KING: ... one of the great routines ever done.

KNOTTS: Oh, yes.

GRIFFITH: Yes, I did that. I finally -- I recorded every routine I ever had, finally. I did "Hamlet" and I did "Romeo and Juliet" and the opera, "Carmen," and the ballet, "Swan Lake," everything.


KING: Was your big break "No Time for Sergeants," Andy?

GRIFFITH: Without question.


GRIFFITH: Latrine ready for inspection, sir!


KING: Tell me how that came about for you.

GRIFFITH: Oh, Mack Hyman (ph) wrote the book, "No Time for Sergeants," and I was trying to do a monologue on it. So I went to see Mack Hyman's agent, and he was letting me down easy about doing this monologue. He said, It's -- this book has been 10 weeks No. 1 best-seller. And it's going to be a -- and it's going to be a play and a movie and a television show. Well, believe it or not, nobody in town knew about the television show, and I was the first one there.

KING: And Don, how did you get the part?

KNOTTS: I just got an audition and read for it.


KNOTTS: Look at that!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He put them together, didn't he?


KING: Yes. That is a great, funny play about service in the Army. And your character, Andy, was extraordinary.

GRIFFITH: Oh, it was a wonderful character.

KNOTTS: Wonderful.

GRIFFITH: Will Stockdale just -- he messed things up just because he loved everybody and wanted to help everybody and believed everybody -- everything anybody said. And that goofed everybody up.

KNOTTS: When the cast sat down and read the play for the first time at the theater...

KING: Yes.

KNOTTS: ... I said to myself, This play is going to be a hit, and a lot of people are going to know who Andy Griffith is.

KING: You did really say that?


KING: Well, you sure were right. What about Barney's facial expressions? Where did you come up with those?

KNOTTS: Oh, I've been trying to make faces all my life!

KING: No, but I mean, you developed such great ones, and the little expressions. Were they your own, or did the writers write them?

KNOTTS: No, they didn't write that.

KING: Andy, did you let him go with that part? GRIFFITH: Most of our stuff was scripted. And Don and I both worked on script, and Don wrote a lot of the sketches that we did. We did a memory bit that Don wrote.

KING: So they gave him a lot of leeway. He didn't have to stick hard to script.

GRIFFITH: I have to be honest with you, by the time we got to the camera, we very well knew what each of us was going to say.

KNOTTS: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

GRIFFITH: Yes. We did all of our ad libbing in work before we got to the camera.

KING: We'll take a break, and when we come back, we're going to ask both of them to give us their thoughts as to why that show worked. We'll be right back.


KNOTTS: Oh, there are things of wonder of which men like to sing. There are pretty sunsets and birds upon the wing. But of the joys of nature, none truly can compare with Juanita, Juanita, she is beauty beyond compare. Juanita, Juanita, lovely, dear, Juanita.

GRIFFITH: From your head down to your feet there is nothing half so sweet. Beautiful Juanita. That's beautiful, Barn.




KNOTTS: All right. That's all. You've had it!


KNOTTS: You didn't think you were fooling anybody, did you, Mrs. Lesh (ph)? Dear husband Bernard, never over 25 miles per hour. Come on, now. Really!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, you've got us. Let me make a deal with you. You forget what happened, and I'll let you have a sweet 1958 custom sedan that's been in the garage up on blocks since 1959.

KNOTTS: Low mileage?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With whitewall tires.

KNOTTS: That sounds like what I've been looking for.



KING: We're back with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. What can you say? And they're still shown every day TVland. You're everywhere around the world, "The Andy Griffith Show," plays forever. So let's -- in retrospect, Andy, why did it work?

GRIFFITH: The basic theme of our show was love. All the characters loved each other. And all the actors loved each other, too. And then, it was so very well written. We could do all kinds of different stories. Some of them were little dramas. Some of them were out-and-out comedies. Like "Barney in the Choir" was pretty well an out-and-out comedy, and "Barney's First Car" was pretty well an out-and-out a comedy.


KNOTTS: This happens to be a delicate piece of machinery that's been treated with kid gloves, and I intend to continue to give it that same kind of care.

JIM NABORS: Oh, I admire you for that, Barney. That's just what I'd do.


GRIFFITH: But then, like "Opie and the Birdman (ph)" was a real drama.

KING: So it worked at a lot of levels.

GRIFFITH: A lot of levels, a lot of different levels.

KING: Don, what would you add to that?

KNOTTS: Well, I think Andy's absolutely right. But I think also that the comedy we did was identifiable comedy that people could identify with it. In other words, we weren't just doing jokes.


KNOTTS: We were doing character comedy that people could really identify with.

GRIFFITH: Yes, we didn't do jokes. The comedy came out of characters. You knew that Barney was going to goof up sometime during the show. During the second episode, "Manhunt," you knew that Barney was going to get tied up by this escaped convict, and so the audience -- the audience loved that. They went right along with it.

KING: Do you remember every episode, Andy?

GRIFFITH: Not every one, but you know, when I see them on television, I know what's coming.

KING: Don, do you remember them?

KNOTTS: No. Some of them I don't. Some of them I remember real well, but some of them I don't.

KING: Do you ever see one where you don't know what's going to happen, Don?

KNOTTS: Yes. I've seen some that I say, Gee, I don't -- really can't remember that one.


KING: Did you have a favorite, Don?

KNOTTS: I had a number of favorites, but there was one show called "Aunt Bea's Pickle" that I especially liked.


KNOTTS: There's no mistake about it. That's a pickle.

GRIFFITH: Yes, boy.


KNOTTS: We had to eat too many pickles over the week.

GRIFFITH: The pickle story, yes. And I came in like a fool that morning, and I said, Well, we're in trouble with this one. And it was the pickle story, and we all laughed all the way through it. And I apologized. And after that, I kept my mouth shut before we read a script.

KING: Did you have a favorite, Andy?

GRIFFITH: I had lots of favorites. The pickle story is one of Don's very favorite. And "Barney in the Choir" was a favorite. "Barney's First Car" was a favorite. "Convicts at Large" was a favorite. Harvey Bullock (ph) wrote the pickle story, and all of those three others that I mentioned, Gilford Sally (ph) and Everett Greenbaum (ph) wrote those. Jim and Ev wrote all of the Darling (ph) family shows, that mountain family that came down. They wrote all of the Ernestine Bash (ph) shows. They had a little turn of mind that made things like that happen.

KING: Now let's talk about some of the players. Where did you find Ron Howard, Andy?


GRIFFITH: Didn't you ever give anybody anything just for the pleasure of it, you know, something you didn't want anything in return for?

RON HOWARD: Sure. Just yesterday, I gave my friend, Jimmy, something.

GRIFFITH: Now, that's fine! What'd you give him?

HOWARD: A sock in the head.

GRIFFITH: I meant charity.

HOWARD: I didn't charge him nothing.

GRIFFITH: I meant something for the joy of giving.

HOWARD: I enjoyed it!


GRIFFITH: Sheldon Leonard found him. Ronnie was at age 5 was pretty well-known in the business. We were in second -- second in line for him. I forget now the famous comic who was first in line, but his show didn't sell, so we got him.

KING: Ronnie was known from a previous show?

GRIFFITH: Oh, yes. He...

KING: "The Rifleman"?

GRIFFITH: At 4, he had done a movie in Europe, I think it was. And then we got Ronnie, and of course -- Ron he's called now. I called him Ronnie for eight years, so it's a little hard for me to call him Ron.

KING: Don, did you see that talent there that Ron Howard would become what he has become?

KNOTTS: Well, I didn't expect him to be a director, to be honest. He was such a natural-born actor that I just assumed he would go on acting.


HOWARD: It sure was swell.

KNOTTS: I heard!

HOWARD: Pa! Pa! Barney's face is bleeding!

KNOTTS: That's not blood.

GRIFFITH: Come on. We'll take care of Barney's face.


GRIFFITH: Aaron Rubin (ph) and I gave him his first camera. It was a little 16-millimeter camera. And he was taking pictures of all of us, and I didn't know it, but he was doing little plays with his father and brother then.

KING: Some people -- W.J. Fields used to say, Don, he didn't like working with kids. What was it like working with Ron?

KNOTTS: Oh, Ron was great to work with. I've worked with some that weren't, but he was great.

GRIFFITH: I loved working with Ron. I don't -- let's see. Yes, I've worked with other children, but he was the best.

KING: Back with more of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts right after this. Don't go away.


HOWARD: Can I run away from home?

GRIFFITH: Oh, you -- you want to run away from home? Well, now, if that's what you got on your mind, well, you're going about it all wrong.


GRIFFITH: Oh, yes. You ain't supposed to ask your pa.

HOWARD: But you always said I should never go anyplace far without getting your permission.

GRIFFITH: Well, yes. I know. I did say that. But see, running away from home is a little special. See, what you do in a case like that is, first you write a note saying that you're running away, and then you do it.

HOWARD: You mean to tell me that's all there is to it?

GRIFFITH: That's all.

HOWARD: But I don't know how to write.




GRIFFITH: You're the one's been riding around on the sidewalk, knocking folks over, ain't you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll tell my dad about this! Then you'll be sorry!

KNOTTS: Oh, go ahead and tell him and see if we care.

GRIFFITH: Barn, let's try to keep this on an adult level.


KING: We're talking about the life and times of one of the great, great shows in American television history, "The Andy Griffith Show," with its stars, Andy Griffith and Don Knotts.

Who -- Andy, tell me the story of Jim Nabors. GRIFFITH: Some friends of ours brought this strange-looking man to our house and left him there.

KING: Well, you can elaborate.

GRIFFITH: I gave him a bathing suit and let him get in the pool, and I took him for a drive in the car. And he finally left, and I was so thrilled.

And then I was made, two weeks after that, to go to the Horn, the nightclub there on Santa Monica, to hear this man sing. And I didn't want to go. I went kicking and screaming.

But the man got up and was electrifying. And I (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- I went out on the sidewalk afterwards, and I said, I don't know what you do, but it's magic, whatever it is.

And then, a few weeks after that, there was a part in our show that came up of Gomer Pyle.



JIM NABORS, ACTOR: Can I ask a question?


NABORS: Are we going to get guns?

KNOTTS: You are.

NABORS: Do we get to ride in a patrol car?

KNOTTS: You do.

NABORS: You're a fool, Otis, this is going to be fun.


GRIFFITH: And I said, Jim, would you like to read for this part? And he said, yes, he would. And I read with him, and he got it.

KING: What did you think of him, Don?

KNOTTS: Oh, I thought he was wonderful. We had a lot of fun working together, too. He was a great to work off of.

GRIFFITH: Yes, we -- we as I said, we went up to Lake Tahoe. This would be in the '60s. And people didn't know -- the general audience did not know Jim could sing then.

KING: Right.

GRIFFITH: So I called him out on the stage near the end of the show. You need somebody who'll take it through the roof near the end of the show. So I brought him out on the stage, and I said, Gomer -- he was dressed up in the gas station outfit. And I said, Gomer, now that you're here, what would you like to do? He says, I don't know.

I said, Well, you want to tell a joke? He said, I don't know no jokes. I said, Do you want to dance? He said, No, I can't dance. I said, Well, you want to sing? He said, OK, I'll sing. I said, What would you like to sing? He said, I'll sing, "Largo al factotum" from "Il Pagliacci." I said, OK. Here's "Largo al factotum" from "Il Pagliacci."

And the band hit, and that boy started to sing. And could you hear the audience going like that. And he only had 14 minutes of material. And after he finished that 14 minutes, I walked back on the stage, and they booed me every night. I said, Jim will be back in a minute. That was OK then.

And then Don and Jim and I finished together.

KING: Don, for a singer, he had natural comedic talent, didn't he?

KNOTTS: Sure did.

KING: He just -- I mean, Gomer Pyle, you -- no one could have played that.

KNOTTS: That's absolutely right.

KING: Now to the sad part here. In fact, Andy, when we discussed this when Andy visited with us by himself, Don, cried during this part. Why -- He did. Why, Don, did you leave the show?


KING: He cried.

KNOTTS: Well, the reason was that we were in our fifth season. And Andy had said that he would not go beyond five seasons. So I started looking around for a job during the fifth season, and I landed a contract at Universal, a picture contract.

And then Andy turned around and decided to stay on the air. Earlier, I had asked Andy if we could team up for good, but he was too good an actor to want to do that. And he shouldn't have, and he didn't.

KING: Andy, why did it hit you so hard?

GRIFFITH: Well, this may sound strange from a man to another man, but I loved Don. And when he left, I missed him very, very much. And I knew there would be a hole in our show. But I knew there would be a hole in my life, too.

But it was -- a nice thing happened when Don -- when, again, Jim and Environment wrote this, but they wrote it -- a draft of his story that didn't really work. Don asked me to read it. And I said, This doesn't really work. And Don said, Will you come over to Universal and help us write the story?

And it was hiatus time. So I said, Sure, I'll come over. So I went over, and I spent -- I forget, how long was it, Don?

KNOTTS: I don't remember. We sat down -- all of us sat down for about two weeks...

GRIFFITH: Yes, yes.

KNOTTS: ... to rewrite the...

GRIFFITH: And worked out this story of "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken."


KNOTTS: Ahh! Ahh!


GRIFFITH: I wasn't involved on the script, but a fellow today, Don, when they were unveiling the statue, a fellow in the audience yelled out, Attaboy, Luther. There was a line in "Ghost and Mr. Chicken," every time anybody would -- Luther would do anything, there would be a voice in the crowd that'd say, Attaboy, Luther. And guess who that was, Everett Greenbaum (ph).

KING: Don, was it hard to leave that show?

KNOTTS: It was very hard. It had been the most fun I had ever had in the business, no question about it. We had fun doing it. We had -- all the cast had a ball...

KING: And by the way, you may have set some sort of record. Don Knotts worked on that show five years. He was nominated for five Emmys.

GRIFFITH: He won five of them.

KING: He won all five.

GRIFFITH: He won five.

KING: Did you get to think, Don, after awhile, that you owned the Emmy?

KNOTTS: Oh, I don't know...

GRIFFITH: I asked him to loan me one one time.

KNOTTS: That was very nice.

GRIFFITH: So I could show it to my mother.

KING: Did you like doing movies, Don? KNOTTS: Yes, I liked doing movies very much. Of course, "The Andy Griffith Show" was shot like a movie, you know, it was exactly like a movie. One camera and...


KING: Yes, that's right, followed you on film, yes.


KING: And tell me about Aunt Bea, Andy, how we found her.

GRIFFITH: Well, there again, Sheldon found her. Frances on the pilot played just a lady in town who had -- was still paying rent on a tuxedo that her husband was buried in. And that was our little joke with her. And she scored so heavy that Sheldon then hired her to play Aunt Bea. And...

KING: And, boy, was she perfect.

GRIFFITH: Oh, was she ever perfect.

KING: Yes.

GRIFFITH: Was she ever perfect.

KING: Perfect.

GRIFFITH: In fact, she was so perfect that people thought she was Aunt Bea.

KING: That was one of the brilliant things about the show. Every part of the cast, minute parts, were perfect.

KNOTTS: Yes, he did a -- Sheldon did a great job casting the show.

KING: Right.

GRIFFITH: Sheldon, Sheldon...

KING: He was a genius.

GRIFFITH: ... Sheldon was a very, very knowledgeable man.

KING: Funny man, too.

GRIFFITH: Very funny man.

KING: We'll be back with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. Don't go away.


GRIFFITH: You just let her get the hang of it, and she'll be pulling in fish in hand over fist. Aunt Bea, you got one!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Aunt Bea, reel it in!

GRIFFITH: Yes. Reel him in, Aunt Bea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why ain't she pulling him in?

GRIFFITH: Well, Aunt Bea is a sportsman, and she's trying to give that fish every chance.

I believe you've given him enough chance, Aunt Bea. Reel him in. Easy. Easy, Aunt Bea. Easy, (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you nearly lost the pole.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What'd she do that for?

GRIFFITH: Well, it was too little, and she threw it back.



KING: We're back with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, and we hope you're enjoying seeing all the scenes we're showing you tonight from his wonderful shows.

Tell me about this Christmas album, Andy.

GRIFFITH: I'm glad you asked. I have it right here.

KING: I thought you would.

GRIFFITH: It's called "The Christmas Guest," and it's stories and songs of Christmas. Marty Stewart produced it. It's got some great Christmas songs. I did "Away in a Manger"...


GRIFFITH (singing): ... laid down his sweet head...


GRIFFITH: ... which is unusual for a man, that goes into a beautiful lullaby called "Golden Slumber Kiss Your Eyes."

But the thing I like about this most are the stories. "The Christmas Guest" itself is a story that was written by Grandpa Jones based on a old folk tale. And then I did another story in the middle of the album called "The Juggler" that's also a folk tale that I heard when I was in high school on the radio, and I carried it in my heart all these years, and I finally got a chance to record it with symphony orchestra.

KING: Whoa. You did it as far back as January.

GRIFFITH: I did it last January, and it's out now this Christmas.

KING: Yes. That's great, and it's called "The Christmas Guest."

GRIFFITH: "The Christmas Guest."

KING: Do you like singing?

GRIFFITH: Yes. I'm not as good a singer as I am an actor. So that's why I the stories I like so much, is because I've been a story teller for a long time. I started as a singer and found out I didn't have a very good voice. That's the reason I went into acting.

KING: That can hurt as a singer if you don't have a good voice.

And Don Knotts, you played Mr. Furley on "Three's Company."


KNOTTS: I better not look too long. I may fall in love.



KING: So we must ask, what was it like working with John Ritter?

KNOTTS: John Ritter was so much fun. It was just unbelievable. I just still can't get over what happened to John Ritter.


JOHN RITTER, ACTOR: We put these on ourselves. We were just fooling around.

KNOTTS: Now, look, I run a clean family building here. I won't put up with anything kinky.


GRIFFITH: I did one movie with John, and I liked him very much too.

KNOTTS: Yes. He was a nice guy, and he was also a lot of fun. He was just -- he had a great sense of humor that he carried with him all the time.


RITTER: I'm so excited to see you, I don't even know how to sit down.


KING: How did you hear about his passing, Don?

KNOTTS: On the news.

KING: Had to be some shock.

KNOTTS: It was. It just floored by me. I couldn't believe it. I couldn't believe it.

KING: He had a certain talent, didn't he, Andy?


KING: The camera liked him.

GRIFFITH: Tex had told -- you know, Tex was, Tex Ritter, was John's father.

KING: I know.

GRIFFITH: And I knew Tex too. And Tex had told John, Don't go into show business, because you'll never make a living at it.

KING: Tell me about your health, both of you. Andy, you're 77. How's everything?

GRIFFITH: Fine. I had a quadruple bypass last -- three years ago. I was dying. I didn't know it, but I was dying when I got to Centera (ph) Hospital in Norfolk. But the good doctors and the good Lord saved my life, and I'm healthy now.

KING: And Mr. Knotts?

KNOTTS: I'm in pretty good shape. I've just recently, on the stage, somehow managed to tear my Achilles tendon, so I'm walking around in a brace. But otherwise, I'm all right.

KING: Don, athletes tear Achilles tendons.

KNOTTS: That's me!

KING: Seventy-nine-year-olds don't tear Achilles tendons.

KNOTTS: I managed.

KING: All right, Andy, what about the career as a lawyer? Why did "Matlock" work?

GRIFFITH: Matlock, Ben Matlock was a wonderful character.

KING: Great character.

GRIFFITH: He was cheap. He was vain. He was bright. And I found it was easy for me to play that part. There was a lot of memory work in it. I never -- I never read anything. I learned everything, and it took me hours to learn all -- especially the courtroom scenes. But I loved them. Don was on that show for a while. Don played my...

KING: Friend.

GRIFFITH: ... my neighbor, Les.

KING: Yes.

GRIFFITH: And we enjoyed that too.

KING: Did you like that work, Don?

KNOTTS: Yes, it was fun. I didn't do many of them, but it was fun.

KING: Now, you say you had a hard time, what, remembering the script, Andy?

GRIFFITH: No, no. I didn't have a hard time remembering it. I had to -- I had to work hard to learn it. It just...

KNOTTS: He had so much.

GRIFFITH: I'm not a real fast study, and so it would take me on a weekend, it would take me eight hours to learn the courtroom scene. But I did spend that time learning it.

KING: Don, why do you keep on keeping on? Why -- I guess you could retire. You could take it easy. You have had such a long and rewarding career. Why do you keep acting?

KNOTTS: Oh, I don't know. It just -- I guess actors never quit, do they?

GRIFFITH: He doesn't know how to do anything else.

KNOTTS: That's right.


KNOTTS: See, when you got this much power in a thing, you got to be very careful to arrange everything so that not just anybody can...



KING: And Andy, why do you keep it up?

GRIFFITH: I don't know how to do anything else either. I can't measure. It says, Measure twice, cut once. I always measure a half a time and cut three or four times. So I -- and I don't know how to lay bricks. So this is all I know how to do.

KING: By the way, Don, did people on the street call you Barney?

KNOTTS: Sometimes, yes.

KING: Because that character was most -- of all the characters you've done, that was the most identified with you, correct?

KNOTTS: Yes. Prior to that, it was the nervous man. I got tired of being asked if I was nervous.

KING: Are you nervous? Noo, noo. Steve Allen. And you cracked Steve up. I can still hear Steve's laugh when you do the, No...

GRIFFITH: Oh, I can, too. I used to do monologues on "The Steve Allen Show," and he would sit and laugh. And that would cause the audience to laugh. It was wonderful.


KING: By the way, we want to thank cable, TV cable's TV Land for supplying the "Andy Griffith Show" clips that we're using here tonight. And you can catch Andy and Barney at 10:30 p.m., and then 2:30 a.m. Eastern time every night on TV Land.

And we'll be back with our remaining moments with two giants right after this.


KNOTTS: My goodness. All right? Hmm.

Oh, hi, Andy.

GRIFFITH: What you doing?

KNOTTS: Just keeping ourselves razor sharp so we'll be fit for the next emergency.

Want to show Andy what I showed you?


KNOTTS: OK. Watch this, Andy. Go ahead. Go!

If you don't know how to handle one of these things, you got no business carrying one.




GRIFFITH: I was reading here just the other day where there's somewhere like 400 needy boys in this county alone, or one and a half boys per square mile.


GRIFFITH: There sure is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never seen one, Pa.

GRIFFITH: Never seen one what?


GRIFFITH: Well, it's not really a half a boy. It's a ratio.


GRIFFITH: Not Horatio, a ratio. It's mathematics. Arithmetic. Look, now, Opie, just forget that part of it. Forget the part about the half a boy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty hard to forget a thing like that, Pa.

GRIFFITH: Well, try.


KING: We're back with Andy Griffith and Don Knotts. We're in our remaining moments.

We talked about the late John Ritter. There's another person that passed away who was certainly involved in Andy's life. What was it like to work with Elia Kazan?

GRIFFITH: Oh, it was -- Thank you so much for mentioning his name. I loved Elia Kazan, and it was wonderful working with Elia Kazan. It was the hardest job I have ever done. I didn't know anything about film work and whatever -- whatever the act -- what I -- whatever I know about the Actor's Studio work, I learned from Elia Kazan on the picture "A Face in the Crowd." He was wonderful.

KING: And it's also one of the best movies ever. The movie, the more you see it, the more brilliant it gets.

GRIFFITH: Thank you.

KING: Was he bad-rapped, Elia Kazan, about the McCarthy era?

GRIFFITH: Well, I was not political, so I didn't know anything about that. I just knew that I was going to work with Elia Kazan, one of the great directors of all time. And I'm sorry that that happened to him. I wish he -- I wish it had gone another way.

KING: What made him so great? What was great to work with him?

GRIFFITH: He was brilliant. He knew actors. He knew exactly how to get an emotion. He used to call me into his office every morning and tell me all the colors he expected to see that day. And then he would say, Now, go off and figure out how to do that. Well, I would walk around behind these sets.

And what he believed in was bringing the character into yourself, so that your self becomes that character. It's very hard on you. It's very hard. But it works.

KING: And you worked with Patricia Neal, and that was Lee Remick's first movie.

GRIFFITH: Patsy Neal, Franci -- Anthony Franciosa...

KING: Yes, what a movie.

GRIFFITH: ... Lee Remick, Walter Matthau.

KING: Yes, what a movie.

GRIFFITH: What a group of people.

KING: "Face in the Crowd," they ought to show it every year somewhere, and I think they still do on HBO or one of the cable channels.

Don, did you ever turn down a part you regretted?

KNOTTS: I've never turned down a part in my life.

KING: Is there a play or a film you would have liked to have done? A character you would have liked to have played?

KNOTTS: You know, I really don't think so. I think I've been quite fortunate to get to do the stuff I've gotten to do, and I have no regrets about any part.

KING: How did Steve find you?

KNOTTS: Well, just from "The Tonight Show."

KING: So you did one guest appearance, and that made you a regular?

KNOTTS: Well, I did three guest appearances, and then he finally said, Why don't you go over and do that nervous guy on our show?

GRIFFITH: He did Gary Moore, daytime.

KNOTTS: I did that first, yes.

GRIFFITH: He did that first, and they -- the "Tonight Show" people saw him on that and hired him. Isn't that right?


KING: Isn't it kind of sad that people like Gary Moore, Arthur Godfrey, aren't remembered more?

KNOTTS: Oh, yes, yes.

KING: Gary Moore from Baltimore was sensational.

KNOTTS: Yes, oh, yes. KING: "I've Got a Secret." I'm going to whisper it to Gary.


KING: Andy, you keep on keeping on. Do you ever think of quitting, after the bypass and everything?

GRIFFITH: No, no, I don't. And Cindy got after me. My wife got after me awhile ago for seeing -- saying that I'm selling a Christmas -- a singing record and saying I couldn't sing. I sing pretty good.

KNOTTS: Yes, he does. He does.

KING: By the way, Don, when you saw "Face in the Crowd," were you impressed with how Andy handled that movie?

KNOTTS: Oh, man, was I ever. Oh, that was just unbelievable.

KING: Have you been cast seriously, Don? You did a soap opera, didn't you?

KNOTTS: Yes, I did a soap opera for three years.


ANNOUNCER: "Search for Tomorrow."


KING: (UNINTELLIGIBLE), have you ever had to play a serious role other than that?

KNOTTS: I don't think so. I think that's the only time I ever did.

GRIFFITH: Don could be a fine serious actor. He's just so good at comedy, nobody will let him.

KING: Could "Andy Griffith" work today, that show, Andy, or is it times different?

GRIFFITH: I don't know, it's hard to say. They don't seem to do them anymore, do they?

KNOTTS: Well, it's working now, though.

KING: Yes, it's working in TV Land. But I mean as a new script, could it work?

KNOTTS: I don't think they'd probably allow you to make it, would they?

GRIFFITH: I don't know. It sure worked when we did it. I don't know...

KING: It sure did. And we... GRIFFITH: ... whether it could work again now or not.

KING: ... we'll watch it forever.

GRIFFITH: I can't answer that.

KING: Thank you both very much. Andy Griffith, Don Knotts...

KNOTTS: Thank you, Larry.

KING: ... you see them every night on TV Land, 10:30 p.m. and then 2:30 a.m. It's great to have them both with us. We treasure them. We hope you enjoyed seeing all the videos courtesy of TV Land tonight. We thank Andy and Don.

And I'll be back in just a moment.


KNOTTS: What are you doing?


KNOTTS: Get out of here!





KING: Thanks for joining us on this edition of LARRY KING LIVE. Whew! Don't get much better than that.



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