If you are a fan of classic TV and The Andy Griffith Show, then the name of Sheldon Leonard should be pretty significant to you. Leonard is one of the show’s co-creators and an executive producer. He also found his way around to a lot of other shows that you probably are familiar with as well.
On an episode of Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., Leonard would play the director of a movie Gomer, played by Jim Nabors, and his fellow Marines are cast in A Star Is Not Born. He also popped up on I Love Lucy in a 1953 episode. In Sales Resistance, he shows up at Lucy’s door and attempts to rip off Mrs. Ricardo. Not cool, Sheldon. Other shows that had the Leonard touch included Cheers, Matlock, The Facts of Life, Sanford and Son, and I Spy, according to MeTV.
Sheldon Leonard Of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Has Memorable Role In ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’
Yet he did make a rather interesting appearance, if you will, on the 1960s sitcom The Dick Van Dyke Show. In an episode titled Divorce, it ends with Rob, played by Van Dyke, and Laura, played by Mary Tyler Moore, back at home. They hear someone knocking at the door. Rob does answer and, offscreen, Leonard yells about some well-meaning advice Rob’s given that’s gone awry. What happens next? Rob’s been clocked in the face by Leonard’s offscreen fist!
Before moving on to other classic TV stuff, we’re not quite through with Leonard. Every Christmas, many of you will watch It’s a Wonderful Life, the Frank Capra film starring Jimmy Stewart. Did you know that you see Leonard, too? He plays Nick the bartender. Yep, make sure to watch out for him in the flick.
Working Closely With Danny Thomas Leads To Getting Key Actor
Leonard worked closely with Danny Thomas, who helped get the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show on the air. His name also comes up in remembrances from Griffith about working on the show. During one interview, Griffith would explain what made his show a hit and, again, Leonard’s name is brought up. The lead actor said that the pilot aired as part of The Danny Thomas Show on CBS.
One interested person who was watching happened to be Don Knotts. After seeing it, Knotts called up Griffith, whom he knew from their time in the movie No Time for Sergeants. Both men chat and Knotts says that he’s available. Griffith didn’t know that Knotts’ work with Steve Allen had come to an end with the show canceled. Upon hearing this news, Griffith simply says two words: “Call Sheldon.” That would lead to one of the funniest pairings in television history.