|The Andy Griffith Show character|
Floyd Lawson (Floyd the Barber) is a fictional character on the American sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. Floyd was primarily portrayed by actor Howard McNear.
Floyd the Barber was the slow-paced, somewhat absent-minded barber in the series' fictional town of Mayberry. He was born and raised in Mayberry, having descended from one of the town's original settlers, Daniel Lawson. He was a founding member of the town band, served as secretary of the Downtown Businessman's Club, and is a member of The Regal Order of the Golden Door to Good Fellowship.: 65
Floyd has one son, Norman, with his wife, Melba.: 65 Other family members mentioned throughout the run of the show include niece Virginia Lee. Floyd's nephew, Warren Ferguson, served as town deputy for a time.: 65 Lamar Tuttle is also mentioned as Floyd's cousin.: 418
Floyd is first introduced in the first-season episode "Stranger in Town" and is played by actor Walter Baldwin.: 150 Baldwin established the running gag of Floyd's inability to trim sideburns evenly, which continued throughout the run of the series. Baldwin portrayed Floyd for just one episode. From January, 1961 on, the role was played by Howard McNear, the actor most commonly associated with the role.
Over the first few seasons, the importance of Floyd the Barber to the series increased. Slowly, McNear changed his delivery of dialogue for Floyd from fast-paced to slower and slower as time went on. Floyd also became involved more in the plots of the various episodes as the show progressed.
In early 1963, midway through the third season, Howard McNear suffered a serious stroke. He was left with limited use of his arms and legs, especially his left arm, which rarely moved. The producers of the series and Andy Griffith wanted McNear to return as Floyd when his health permitted it, and after about a year, McNear was talked into coming back (which he was not going to do at first). The series had a special chair constructed that McNear was able to sit in most of the time while on the set, as the stroke had left him only able to stand for short periods of time. Accordingly, the Floyd character then began to appear regularly again on the series towards the end of season four.
The last appearance of Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show was in the final episode of the seventh season. Howard McNear's health worsened and he was not able to return to the series for season eight, and he died less than a year later. To try to fill in his loss on the series, a new character named Emmett Clark (a fix-it man) was brought in. As announced on the series, Floyd had retired because he had earned enough money. Emmett (played by veteran character actor Paul Hartman) moved his fix-it shop from his home into Floyd's old barber shop location in Mayberry.
In Howard McNear's first appearance as Floyd, "Mayberry Goes Hollywood," the character is referred to as Floyd Colby and the barbershop was called "Colby's Tonsorial Parlor".: 132 Later Floyd's surname was established to be "Lawson."
Early in the series, Floyd has a son and a wife, although in at least one episode ("Floyd the Gay Deceiver") we are led to believe that he is single.: 132,156
Over the years, "Floyd the barber" has been used in a variety of television programming. Some examples include the following:
With the popularity of The Andy Griffith Show, interest in the influence of Mount Airy, NC as the inspiration for Mayberry grew. Russell Hiatt, a barber at Mt. Airy's City Barber Shop claimed to have cut Andy Griffith's hair, although this is disputed by Griffith. City Barber Shop was established in 1929, and Hiatt began working there in 1946. In 1989, the name was changed to "Floyd's City Barber Shop". Whether Hiatt actually cut Griffith's hair when the actor had yet to become famous is uncertain. Hiatt was only two years older than Griffith, so he would have had to have cut his hair before Griffith moved away from Mt. Airy to attend college in the late 1940s. Griffith and Hiatt would both have been teenagers at that time.