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Elinor Donahue on 'The Andy Griffith Show'

Elinor Donahue discusses working with the cast of 'The Andy Griffith Show'

Hired to play Andy Taylor's girlfriend on The Andy Griffith Show, Elinor Donahue found that, despite her 6 years on the long-running sitcom Father Knows Best (1954-1960), she didn't really fit in on her next TV series assignment.

As soon as Father Knows Best left the air in the summer of 1960, Elinor Donahue was immediately cast in the Andy Griffith Show debuting that fall. That's an unusual occurrence but it does happen - after Lost in Space was canceled in 1968, June Lockhart joined the cast of Petticoat Junction that year as the female lead after Bea Benaderet died.

Despite playing Andy Taylor's first regular girlfriend on the show, Elinor "Ellie" Walker, Donahue found she was a fish out of water. Andy's excuse for dropping Donahue from the cast after only 12 episodes during one season? "I didn't know how to write for you."

"I don't think that that's true," Donahue states. "That's very kind of him to say, I don't think I did give them anything to write for. But that was his excuse for that."

Donahue speculates that the unique camaraderie between Andy Griffith and Don Knotts was unexpected, that no one thought they would click in the spectacular way they did. As a result, many of Donahue's lines went to Knotts.

It was nothing personal that she was dropped, she got along well with the cast by all accounts. She was in awe of Don Knotts and Ronny Howard. As for the actress that portrayed Aunt Bee, "I loved Frances Bavier. People say she was tough and snappish but I never found her so. I always found her very, very nice." It's been said that only Jim Nabors really got along with Bavier, no cast members attended her funeral.

Charlotte Observer: Elinor Donahue was introduced in Season 1 as Griffith’s love interest, but there was no chemistry, onstage or off. It was quite the opposite with Aneta Corsaut, introduced in Season 3, as teacher Helen Crump. She and Griffith became passionate lovers.

 

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Created by Ed James, Father Knows Best follows the lives of the Andersons, a middle-class family living in the Midwestern town of Springfield.

The Andy Griffith Show / Ellie Walker
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- The Beauty Contest (1961) ... Ellie Walker (uncredited)
- The Horse Trader (1961) ... Ellie Walker
- Christmas Story (1960) ... Ellie Walker (uncredited)
- Ellie for Council (1960) ... Ellie Walker (uncredited)
- Andy the Matchmaker (1960) ... Ellie Walker (uncredited)
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- Ellie Comes to Town (1960) ... Ellie Walker

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