I remember watching the ending of Return to Mayberry in the spring of 1986 and feeling bittersweet as I saw Andy Griffith and Don Knotts walk down the street together for the last time on screen as Andy and Barney. Those emotions, now almost 20 years distant, returned as I read Daniel de Vise´ biography on the lives, accomplishments and friendship of two American entertainment legends of the late 20th century.
Published by Simon and Schuster (2015), Andy and Don is a wide ranging look at the development of Griffth’s and Knotts’ careers and friendship; a study in how their upbringing motivated them to use some form of entertainment (mainly comedy) to survive and live; the issues and dynamics in their lives that caused them, and those around them, pain both physical and emotional; and the role that The Andy Griffith Show played in the development of television programming in the 1960’s and beyond.
A well-done and well researched book, de Vise´ (who was Knotts’ brother-in-law as well as a reporter for The Miami Herald and The Washington Post ) draws on numerous interviews as well as historical records as he makes clear a central point – the love and respect these two men had for one another which transcended their careers, their dark moments and low points, and a larger degree of success of one (Knotts) until the death of Knotts brought it to an end.
I really liked this book. Quite frankly, it shattered some illusions that I had about these two legendary men but it also gave me a great respect for them as well as they were both survivors of harsh and sometimes extreme situations in their early years. It is also a wonderful behind the scenes look at the dynamics of the show as well. Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and A Classic American TV Show is a worthy read. And I gave it four stars on Goodreads.
Note: I received an electronic copy of this book via Net Galley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review.