Andy and Don

/ posted in: Reading Andy and DonAndy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show by Daniel de Visé
on November 3rd 2015
Genres: Nonfiction
Pages: 320
Format: Audiobook
Source: Audible
Buy on Amazon (affiliate link)
Goodreads
Set in North Carolina and California
Length: 9:29

A lively and revealing biography of Andy Griffith and Don Knotts, celebrating the powerful real-life friendship behind one of America's most iconic television programs.
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, de Vise'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.


 

Andy Griffith and Don Knotts are icons of American television.  They met while on Broadway and then reteamed in the 1960s on The Andy Griffith Show playing a small town sheriff and his deputy.  They both went on to have careers in individual projects – Don in Three’s Company and a variety of movies and stage productions and Andy in Matlock and many TV movies – but they were always best together.

This book is a story of their lives and friendship.  Both were awkward kids from the south who tried to make in it show business and failed.  They tried again and became stars.  Their friendship survived three marriages each, alcoholism, drug addiction, and affairs.

Andy was groomed to be the star but he recognized Don’s brilliance and let him shine.  He won 5 Emmys and Andy never won any acting awards.  He was always proud of Don.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t as nice to the women in his life.  This book glosses over his domestic violence in an era when it wasn’t taken all that seriously.  He was brutal to people who he felt had betrayed him and he held grudges that went on for years.

Don seems like the nicer guy.  He was a lifelong hypochondriac with symptoms that got worse whenever he had to perform live.  He was addicted to sleeping pills to help control his anxiety.  Women loved him.  This book was written by an investigative reporter who was his brother-in-law in his third marriage.

If you are a fan of any of the TV shows that they were on, you will probably enjoy this book.  Just be prepared for the parts of their lives that don’t bear any resemblance to the clean cut characters that they played on TV.