Monday, May 7, 2012
15 Greatest TV Characters of the 1960s: Barney Fife
Portrayed by: Don Knotts
TV series: The Andy Griffith Show (the Barney years were 1960-64)
Occupation: Deputy Sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina; later took a detective job in Raleigh. Worked briefly as a dog catcher and vacuum cleaner salesman.
Early Life: Graduated from Mayberry Union High School with friend Andy Taylor. He served in the Army during World War II, running the Post Exchange library on Staten Island, NY.
Lifestyle: Lived in Mrs. Mendelbright's Boarding House. When not on duty, wore a fedora and a "salt and pepper suit" (Andy thought it made Barney look like Adolpe Menjou).
Family and Friends: Best friend is Sheriff Andy Taylor. (According to the first episode, Andy and Barney are cousins, but subsequent episodes seem to dispute that relationship.) Barney was the best man at Andy's wedding and godfather to Opie. Barney dated Hilda Mae and then Juanita Beasley, a waitress at the Junction Cafe and later the Bluebird Diner. Thelma Lou became his long-time girlfriend and they eventually married (but not during the run of The Andy Griffith Show). Barney had a cousin named Virgil (Michael J. Pollard). Barney's mother appeared only in the second episode.
Non-talents: So inept with his firearm that Andy only gave him one bullet--for emergencies. Liked to sing, but sounded dreadful (once replaced by Gomer in a choir).
Trademarks: Called Andy "Ange."
Classic quotes: "This is big. Big, big, big. Really big." "I had my eye on you right from the start, mister!" "Beats all, Andy. Just beats all!" "Nip it in the bud!"
Classic episodes: "Andy Saves Barney's Morale" (left in charge of the sheriff's department, Barney arrests almost everyone); "Barney and the Cave Rescue" (heroic Barney saves Andy and Helen after a cave landslide); and "The Haunted House" (a prelude to the Don Knotts movie The Ghost and Mr. Chicken).