BARNEY FIFE Biography - Fictional, Iconical & Mythological characters

 
 

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BARNEY FIFE

Bernard "Barney" Fife is a fictional dramatic character in the American                   
television program The Andy Griffith Show. Barney Fife is a deputy sheriff in             
the slow, sleepy southern community of Mayberry, North Carolina. He appeared in           
the first five black and white seasons (1960 - 1965) as a main character, and,           
after leaving the show at the end of season five, made a few guest appearances           
in the following three color seasons (1965 - 1968). He appeared in TAGS spinoff           
Mayberry R.F.D. (1968 - 1971), and in the 1986 reunion telemovie Return to               
Mayberry. Barney Fife is portrayed by comic actor Don Knotts.                             
                                                                                         
Don Knotts had previously co-starred on the "Steve Allen Show", along with Tom           
Poston, Pat Harrington Jr., and Louis Nye - which is where a frantic, twitching           
"man on the street" character was first introduced. He created Deputy Barney             
Fife in the same fashion, as a hyper-kinetic but comically inept counterpart to           
Mayberry's practical and composed Sheriff Andy Taylor. Sometimes considered a             
blowhard with delusions of grandeur, Barney fancies himself an expert on                 
firearms, women, singing and just about any other topic of conversation brought           
up while he is around. Conversely, Andy knows that Barney's false bravado is a           
smokescreen for his insecurities, low self confidence, and lack of character.             
                                                                                         
Barney is often overly analytical and alarmist about benign situations, such as           
the modest Mayberry crime scene. He takes a minor infraction, blows it out of             
proportion, and then concocts an elaborate plan (sometimes involving inept               
civilians, like Otis Campbell or Gomer Pyle) to resolve it. This only inflicts           
mass chaos for Andy to quell. Despite his failings, Barney is passionate about           
law enforcement, regularly spouting off penal codes and ordinances to thugs and           
jaywalkers alike.                                                                         
                                                                                         
An emotional powderkeg, Barney easily projects panic, despair, fear or other             
extreme reactions. He has what he describes as a "low sugar blood level". He is           
smug and self-confident until a real-life situation surfaces, wherein he becomes         
flustered. Outwardly "a man of the world", Barney is truly na├»ve and easily             
duped. Though constantly warned by Andy, he falls for countless scams. This               
gullibility is evident in an episode ("Barney's First Car") where he is conned           
into buying a lemon from a crafty old widow.                                             
                                                                                         
A gossip and gadfly, Barney is known for blabbing both personal and police               
secrets (such as Andy's examination's of women's rings at the jewelry store, or           
the locale and time of a stakeout, or an armored car full of gold coming through         
the town). This often makes him appear as a petty halfwit, though at heart he is         
a caring, amiable soul. Despite a knack for exasperating the townsfolk, Barney           
is fondly embraced by most of them.                                                       
                                                                                         
One major comedic source is Barney's lack of ability with a firearm. After               
numerous misfires (usually a Colt or Smith & Wesson M&P .38 caliber revolver),           
Andy restricts Barney to carrying only a single bullet in his shirt pocket, "in           
case of an emergency." The bullet always seems to find its way back into the             
pistol, where, predictably, it is accidentally discharged. The accidental                 
discharge of Barney's pistol becomes a running gag: Barney gives a lecture on             
gun safety and either fires his pistol in his holster, or else he closes the gun         
and it goes off! Another major running gag with Barney was locking himself, or           
himself along with Andy, in one of the jail cells. When Barney is talking and             
walks into a jail cell, chances are it will shut with him inside and the keys             
out of reach. When Andy is locked in along with him, they are forced to                   
embarrassingly yell for help from any citizen that may be within hearing range.           
                                                                                         
Early in the series, Andy and Barney comment that they are cousins. However,             
several episodes indicate that Barney is not directly related to the Taylors. On         
"Aunt Bee's Invisible Boyfriend", Barney tells Andy, "If she (Aunt Bee) were my           
aunt, I'd wanna investigate this fella". Yet in another installment, "Cousin             
Virgil", Andy is introduced to Barney's backward cousin, who is obviously not             
related to the sheriff. In one porch dialog, Barney speaks to Andy about buying           
his folks a septic tank for their anniversary. Andy does not refer to them as             
aunt and uncle. On several occasions, Aunt Bee reminded Andy that, "he's YOUR             
friend" (suggesting no blood kin to either Taylor). Of course, two cousins do             
not have all the same aunts and uncles, since each cousin has only one parent             
who is the sibling of one of the other cousin's parents (except in the unusual           
case of a sister and brother marrying a brother and sister). Genetics aside, the         
two are best friends, having grown up together in Mayberry. It was mentioned a           
few times that they had the same teacher in elementary school, and that they             
both graduated from Mayberry Union High together.                                         
                                                                                         
When he's not patrolling the streets of Mayberry, Barney spends his free time             
dating a local girl named Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn), whom he eventually marries.           
Thelma Lou is Barney's main girlfriend throughout the show, although he also             
dates other women, in particular, a Bluebird Diner waitress named Juanita, who           
is never seen but is often mentioned. Barney takes up residence in different             
places including the Raleigh YMCA and Mrs. Mendelbright's boarding house. When           
not on duty, he is usually seen in a fedora and a "salt-and-pepper" suit.                 
Although the deputy enjoys singing, he has a "tin ear". Nearly being barred from         
singing engagements was a dilemma for Barney, and is highlighted by several               
episodes, most notably, "Barney and the Choir" and "The Song Festers". He does,           
however, serenade Juanita over the office phone, without complaints.                     
                                                                                         
Barney Fife's last appearance on The Andy Griffith Show in the eighth season             
episode, "Barney Hosts a Summit Meeting" (1968).                                         
                                                                                         
Some continuity slip-ups can be expected, as the series had several writers. An           
illustration of this is with the various middle names given for both Barney and           
Andy. In the episode "Class Reunion", Barney's middle name is Milton, though at           
other times he is called "Bernard P. Fife". In another episode, where he                 
believes he is the descendant of Nathan Tibbs, a Mayberry Revolutionary hero, he         
says his name is "Barney 'Tibbs' Fife." Andy jokingly says, "I thought your               
middle name was Oliver." A similar problem exist with Andy's middle name which           
was given as Jackson on his own show (when his high school photo was shown), but         
his newborn son's name was given as Andrew Samuel Taylor Jr. on "Mayberry RFD" (during   
a christening).                                                                           
                                                                                         
Like Andy, who was stationed in France, Barney served in World War II, although           
he was a file clerk who never left the United States (he stated that "me and             
this other fella ran the PX library" on Staten Island). (It should be noted that         
both Andy and Barney graduated from Mayberry Union High in June, 1945 and that           
the war in Europe was over in May 1945. With at least six weeks of basic                 
training, Andy couldn't have been in Europe before August, 1945. Andy couldn't           
possibly have seen action on a European battlefield.) Barney was nevertheless             
proud of his war record: "I did my part to lick the dreaded Hun," he boasted on           
one occasion. Ironically, Barney later acquired knowledge of military discipline         
from Hugo Hopfleisch, a retired German soldier who served in World War I and             
eventually took up residence in Mayberry. "[He] may have been on the wrong team           
back in '18," Barney admitted, "but he's a heck of a soldier!"                           
                                                                                         
Last appearance: Barney Fife portrayed by Don Knotts in Return to Mayberry (1986).       
                                                                                         
Barney Fife appeared on The Andy Griffith Show from the show's beginning in 1960         
until 1965, when Knotts left the show to pursue a career in feature films. It is         
explained that Barney Fife had left Mayberry to take a job as a detective in             
Raleigh. Knotts reprised the character in guest appearances each season until             
The Andy Griffith Show left the air in 1968. Barney was also on the inaugural "Mayberry   
RFD" episode, in which Andy and Helen marry. Andy Griffith struggles to keep a           
straight face as driveling "best man" Barney seemingly objects to the union and           
then fumbles to find Helen's ring. Nearly two decades would pass before the               
character is reprised in the reunion film Return to Mayberry in 1986, by which           
time Fife has moved back, become acting sheriff, and was running for sheriff             
himself.                                                                                 
                                                                                         
Calling a police officer or authority figure "Barney Fife" has become an                 
American slang term for gross ineptitude or overzealousness. (This was done               
recently in the Scott Peterson case, where the defendant's mother referred to             
the local police captain as "Barney Fife").