Frances Bavier, as his Aunt Bee, was in 179 episodes; and Don Knotts, as his bumbling deputy, Barney Fife, showed up in 162. Other top character appearances included Goober (George Linsey) at 86, Floyd the Barber (Howard McNear) at 80, Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) at 66, Howard Sprague (Jack Dodson) at 38, Otis Campbell (Hal Smith) at 32, Clara Edwards (Hope Summers) at 32, and Thelma Lou (Betty Lynn) at 26.
Everyone else, including such famous characters as Gomer Pyle,
Emmett Clark, Jud Fletcher, the Darlings, and Ernest T. Bass had less than this. Indeed, the vast majority of characters appeared only once in the entire run of the show.
But with 26 appearances to his credit, one often overlooked character rounds out the top twelve. And he did this even though he never uttered a single line. Who was that? It was none other than the mysterious “Mr. Schwump”, who shows up, big as life, in some 26 episodes.
In one episode, he is pictured sitting on a bench on Main Street with the show's two biggest stars, Sheriff Andy and his Deputy Barney. He also shows up at Mrs. Wiley’s dance when “My Fair Ernest T. Bass” courts Romana Ankrum. He goes on to appear in numerous other scenes as well.
What is more, even when he is not on camera, he is often referred to in dialogue, as in the famed “Fun Girls” episode when Andy tells Barney that he has no intention of going to a dance and standing in a stag line with “Old Mr. Schwump”.
In spite of all this, to this very day, no one – not one single person – has been able to identify who the actor that portrayed Mr. Schwump was. Indeed, entire websites are devoted to this mystery. Apparently, no actual written records survive indicating who he was. And sadly, all the major actors, at least the ones who may have been old enough at the time to know who the gentleman was, have now passed away. Otherwise, there would be 609 actors, rather than 608, credited on IMDB for having appeared on the show.
Sad as this is, perhaps there is a lesson here. Maybe this is a lot like how life works. Maybe there are a lot of people whose destiny it is to go through life playing a significant and needed part without ever really ever being given any credit for their efforts!
Think about it. If you look back over your life, it is likely that you will see a long list of characters with which you will have crossed paths. Some of these will have had leading roles, and will have been afforded the appropriate recognition. Such persons may well include your parents, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts, cousins, teachers, mentors, cohorts, etc…
Others may have barely registered in the brief time they were present amidst the great parade of individuals who have passed by over the years. These might include a classmate, a neighbor, a coworker, an associate, etc…
And yet, I dare say that a closer refection will reveal that somewhere along the way there was more than one “Mr. Schwump”. By this I mean someone who played a vital, if often overlooked, role in your life.
Maybe it was someone in your neighborhood. Perhaps it was a babysitter, a delivery man, a store clerk, a ball coach, a police officer, or a firefighter. Or maybe it was at school in the form of a teacher, or a principle, or a janitor, or even a bus driver. Maybe later, it was a professor, or perhaps a doctor, or a nurse, or some other caregiver. Or maybe it was even someone at church: like a nursery worker, or a Sunday School teacher, or an usher, or even a minister.
There are few things as praiseworthy as an individual who fulfills his or her calling (and thus purpose) without any recognition and/or fanfare! And yet, where would any of us be without them?!
My strong suspicion is that if “The Andy Griffith Show” were being produced today, the character playing old “Mr. Schwump” would be a card-carrying member of some union that would insure that he gained his fifteen minutes in the limelight. Alas, the early 1960s were an altogether different story. And in the real world, so is most of life, both today and all throughout human history.
The truth is that very few people ever receive proper recognition in this life, either for what they have done or for the difference they have made.
Does this strike a responsive chord with you? Do you feel like you have spent a good deal of time and effort in your life attempting to do right by others only to have much of your efforts go overlooked and/or ignored?
If so, let me encourage you not to become overly concerned. Instead, stay the course. Keep on keeping on. As you do, remember that there is One who sees all and Who hears all and Who remembers all. There is One Who is our eternal eye witness! And because of this, rest assured that there will come a day when He will make all things known, and will reward everyone accordingly.
The New Testament Book of Hebrews (chapter 6, verse 10) tells us that “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” Given this, I remind you that whenever you feel like your efforts on behalf of the Lord and others are not being acknowledged or appreciated, please don't forget that God still knows and God still remembers and God still rewards!
And if God does all these things, then what does it matter if others in this world do or not?!