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Surprising Secrets Of 'The Andy Griffith Show'

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Jul. 5 2017, Published 10:21 a.m. ET

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Evoking nostalgia for a simpler time, The Andy Griffith Show was a smash hit in the turbulent '60s. Andy Griffith portrayed one of TV's most beloved fathers, widowed sheriff Andy Taylor, who was raising young son Opie — played by future "Happy Days" star Ron Howard — in the idyllic small town of Mayberry.

Featuring a cast of eccentric characters, including bumbling deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) and Andy's housekeeping Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), the iconic sitcom ran for eight seasons.

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Here are some of the wild secrets behind the classic series.

"The Andy Griffith Show" wasn't the first time Andy and Don worked together! The pair starred in the 1958 film "No Time for Sergeants," which was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. Andy was even at Don's side when he died at age 81 in 2006.

Don showed up to work on the first day of filming without a contract. But producers were so impressed by the chemistry between Andy and Don that they gave him a one-year deal on the spot that was eventually extended by another five!

"The second episode was called 'Manhunt,'" recalled Andy, who died in 2012, "and I knew by that episode Don should be the comic and I should play straight for him. That made all the difference."'

The squad car used by Andy and Barney was a Ford Galaxie, and a local dealership provided a replacement every time a new model was released. Ten vehicles were used during the show's run.

Although Andy portrayed a kind-hearted hero on the show, in real life he had some of his co-stars shaking in their boots!

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He had a reputation as being mean when he got drunk, which was often, and at least once he trashed a hotel room.

"Friends winced at the thought of spending an evening in the Griffith home," says Daniel de Visé author of the book "Andy & Don."

George Lindsey, who played the goofy car mechanic cousin of Jim Nabors' Gomer Pyle on the show from 1964 to 1968, noted his nasty feuds with Andy in his 1995 memoir "Goober in a Nutshell."

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"Every Monday night, he would call you if he liked your performance," recalled Lindsey, who died in 2012. "If the call didn't come, I dreaded going back to work on Tuesday morning."

But when Andy was in better spirits, he loved to tease his good friend, Don. Don's birth name was "Jesse," and he hated it — which made Andy frequently call him "Jess" on set!

However, the cast doled out their own sort of pranks, with one catching Andy in a compromising position! When a crew member dressed as a waiter to deliver dinner to Andy's hotel room, he caught the actor with co-star Aneta Corsaut, with whom he was rumored to be having an affair.

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The memorable opening clip, with the show's whistled theme song, was filmed at Franklin Canyon Park, which is located at the eastern end of the Santa Monica Mountains in L.A.

Ron Howard was only 6 when the credit sequence was filmed and wasn't strong enough to toss the rock into the lake. A props master was finally tapped to fling the stone into the water, creating an odd lag between the boy's toss and the rock's splash.

The show went out on top! The sitcom led all others in the Nielsen ratings during its final season. It was only one of three series in TV history to do so, the others being "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld."

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