We loved their love, but the TV sheriff once even nixed Andy and Helen’s first near-kiss, writing it out of the script.
When Aneta Corsaut is first introduced as Helen Crump on The Andy Griffith Show, it’s in the third-season episode “Andy Discovers America”.
The story goes that the character was called Helen Crump specifically because she was planned to be a one-off character who wouldn’t stick around long enough to wonder why such a pretty girl had such an ugly name.
But Corsaut and Griffith had such great chemistry that writers kept Miss Crump around, and every classic TV fan knows that over time, she becomes the woman who teaches she widower sheriff to love again. Eventually, they wed.
The sparks in Mayberry, however, were not exactly electric from the moment that Helen Crump is introduced. Instead, Griffith himself stepped in to make sure that there were no fast moves when it came to Andy romancing Opie’s schoolteacher. He wanted their courting to come along nice and slow.
In 1964, a year after Helen Crump first came to Mayberry, Griffith told The Associated Press that he and Corsaut were rehearsing a scene that made him feel outright uncomfortable about the romantic shift in the show.
The scene called for Andy and Helen to hover outside his office, with Andy feeling so smitten, he starts leaning in for a kiss, only to lose his nerve at the last minute and duck inside the door where Barney was waiting.
Griffith didn’t like this public image of the sheriff one bit.
“That’s a little too much,” frowned Griffith. “Wouldn’t it be better if we sort of made love with our eyes a little bit?”
The show’s star was protesting the PDA more than the timing of the kiss.
“I just don’t think we’d make physical love in public,” Griffith explained.
Lucky for Griffith, his name was on the show and the director of the episode Al Rafkin agreed the scene wasn’t quite right. They wrote the near-kiss out of the episode.
“Wouldn’t it be funnier if Don broke it up by walking between us?” Griffith suggested. “Let’s try that.”
Once Knotts came into the scene, Griffith was much happier with the episode.
“Boy that works better,” Griffith remembered saying. “That felt wonderful. It’s in character because that’s the sort of thing he would do, rush through like that to attract attention.”
This is just one example of how Griffith was cautious about letting romantic storylines dominate The Andy Griffith Show once Helen was introduced.
But throughout their romance, the TV star insisted the couple remain conservative, even after things started heating up between them and they did occasionally kiss in private.
“Andy has no idea Helen has sex appeal,” Aneta Corsaut joked to The Shreveport Journal in 1967. She said over the episodes, slowly the characters were allowed to touch more often in scenes, but Andy, just like his character, “still shies away from it.”
“So we don’t kiss a lot,” Corsaut points out.
Corsaut was fine with the pace of the romance, though. She was happy to become part of the Mayberry family.
As Corsaut has watched the show more over time, she said she’s appreciated how the romance between Andy and Helen burned slow. She said often she’d be watching her own scenes and realize she hadn’t remembered everything that happened in the episodes she appeared in.
“It’s like watching someone else who looked like me,” she told The Jackson Sun in 1990.
Although we missed out on what could’ve been even more romance between Andy and Helen, as Griffith cautiously edited out some of their early love scenes, one might argue that the love they shared is perhaps more poignant because of Griffith buffing out some little touches. That’s how Corsaut sees it.
Like most character actors on the show, Corsaut formed a special bond not just with Andy, but also with The Andy Griffith Show fans, whose everlasting love of Helen Crump has touched her heart for decades.
“It’s so good to meet the fans of the show,” Corsaut said. “They’re really some of the kindest, most genuine people you’ll ever meet.”