The Andy Griffith Show is a situation comedy series set in the fictional town of Mayberry. The beloved TV show has been off the air since 1968, but somehow it manages to grow more popular with each passing year, as each successive generation discovers the warmth and charm of the show.
These days, The Andy Griffith Show is going strong in rerun form, with the iconic theme song as potent as popular as ever before. Still, as the composer of the folksy tune once revealed, while the song itself might be jaunty and easygoing, writing it proved to be a major challenge.
Who is Andy Griffith?
Andy Griffith, the creative force behind The Andy Griffith Show, was born and raised in the humble town of Mount Airy, North Carolina. He later used his hometown as the inspiration for Mayberry.
While Griffith’s early years were not always easy ones, with his family often struggling with poverty, he was determined to make a successful life for himself. Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts and found himself particularly drawn to music.
Throughout the ’40s and early ’50s, Griffith worked a variety of jobs in the entertainment industry. He finally received critical attention for his monologue, What It Was, Was Football, which was later released as a successful single.
In 1955, Griffith made a splash onstage in the hit play No Time for Sergeants, a role that he later reprised onscreen in the 1958 film. Following the success of that film, Griffith made several movie appearances in the late ’50s, but it wasn’t until a guest spot on The Danny Thomas Show, where Griffith played a down-home small town sheriff, that his fortunes really changed.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ is a classic television staple
Griffith was so well-received in his guest appearance on The Danny Thomas Show, that network executives decided to greenlight Griffith’s latest brainchild, a television series called The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith portrayed a small-town sheriff who never carries a gun, who not only is raising his young son alone following the death of his wife but who has become something of a town wise man, always willing and able to offer advice and help as needed.
The Andy Griffith Show became a major hit, and fans reacted positively to the easy charm of the series. Ultimately, it ran on television until 1968, spawning a merchandising empire and inspiring several television reunions even after the show ended.
One of the hallmarks of The Andy Griffith Show was the theme song, which didn’t have any words, but was simply a cheerful whistling tune over the show’s opening credits. Easy to remember and hard to forget, the theme tune is still popular to this day.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ theme song was not an easy one to write
As it turns out, the theme tune to The Andy Griffith Show was not so simple to write. In later years, composer Earle Hagen revealed that he struggled for a long time trying to come up with the perfect theme for the new series, until one day when inspiration struck: “One morning I got up after beating our brains out for a couple of months, and I thought ‘That thing ought to be simple enough to whistle.’ And it took me about 10 minutes to write it.”
Hagen stated that after he presented the finished tune, dubbed “The Fishin’ Hole” to showrunners, they suggested that the opening credits feature Griffith’s character and young Ron Howard, who played his son Opie, ambling down to an actual fishing hole to spend a day on the water.
Hagen himself whistled the song, even though he didn’t have much experience whistling: “I had never whistled before in my life, and never since.”
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