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"A lilting labor of love."
-- Tom Shales, Pulitzer prizewinning TV critic
"Delicious comfort food for boomers and, really, anyone with cable."
-- Booklist (starred review)
Andy Griffith and Don Knotts met on Broadway in the 1950s. When Andy went to Hollywood to film a TV pilot about a small-town sheriff, Don called to ask if the sheriff could use a deputy. The comedic synergy between Sheriff Andy Taylor and Deputy Barney Fife ignited The Andy Griffith Show, elevating a folksy sitcom into a timeless study of human friendship, as potent off the screen as on. Andy and Don -- fellow Southerners born into poverty and raised among scofflaws, bullies, and drunks -- captured the hearts of Americans across the country as they rocked lazily on the front porch, meditating about the simple pleasure of a bottle of pop.
But behind this sleepy, small-town charm, Daniel de Visé's exclusive reporting reveals explosions of violent temper, bouts of crippling neurosis, and all-too-human struggles with the temptations of fame. Andy and Don chronicles unspoken rivalries, passionate affairs, unrequited loves, and friendships lost and regained. Although Andy and Don ended their Mayberry partnership in 1965, they remained best friends for the next half-century, with Andy visiting Don at his death bed.
Written by Don Knotts's brother-in-law and featuring extensive unpublished interviews with those closest to both men, Andy and Don is the definitive literary work on the legacy of The Andy Griffith Show and a provocative and an entertaining read about two of America's most enduring stars.
Andy Taylor and Barney Fife could make the world stand still. Stretching out on the front porch of Andy’s Mayberry home, Andy and Barney would reel off hypnotic meditations on the mundanities of life. Their conversations defied the frenetic pulse of their medium, network television. For millions of viewers, The Andy Griffith Show was a sanctuary in a nervous world, with two friends at its center, reclining on a porch.
“Ya know what I think I’m gonna do?” Barney tells Andy in one moment of Mayberry Zen, as Andy strums a guitar. “I’m gonna go home, have me a little nap, then go over to Thelma Lou’s and watch a little TV.” Several seconds pass in silence. “Yeah, I believe that’s what I’ll do: go home, have a nap, head over to Thelma Lou’s for TV.” More silence. “Yep, that’s the plan: ride home, a little nap . . .”
The Andy Griffith Show endures like no other artifact of television’s golden era. In the fifty-five years since its October 1960 debut, Andy Griffith has never left the airwaves. At the dawn of 2015, Griffith episodes air several times a day, watched by a fan club with more than one thousand chapters and celebrated in an annual festival that draws thirty thousand fans to a real-life Mayberry. To fully appreciate this program’s staying power, even by comparison to other television classics, try to find a Honeymooners convention.
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"Put this book on your holiday list for your favorite Griffith-Knotts fans."
-- Dannye Romine Powell, The Charlotte Observer
"[De Visé] captures the complexity of both men and the intimacy of their friendship with extreme detail and sensitivity."
-- Publishers Weekly
"What a thrill to take a peek down the alleys of Mayberry and beyond."
-- Billy Bob Thornton, Oscar-winning actor and director