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YouTube Gold: Jack Nicholson On The Andy Griffith Show

In a few short years after this, Nicholson would make enduring classic like Five Easy Pieces and Chinatown

Movie actor Jack Nicholson; in Toronto to star in The Last Detail; talked to The Star’s Clyde Gilmou
Jack Nicholson in 1970
Photo by Frank Lennon/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Everyone has to get their start somewhere and some interesting actors either got their start or at least a major boost from the Andy Griffith Show.

Griffith, a native of Mt. Airy and a loyal graduate of UNC, created one of the finest, most nuanced shows in TV history. It was wonderfully balanced between small town humor and pathos.

The show has two basic eras: the black and white era, or Barney era, and the color era, or the post-Barney era (Barney refers to Deputy Barney Fife, brilliantly played by Don Knotts).

If you look carefully, you’ll see rising stars like Terri Garr, Bill Bixby, Barbara Eden, Howard Hesseman and, in this clip, young Jack Nicholson.

Within a few years of this role, Nicholson would emerge as a new type of star who, like Clint Eastwood, would come to be widely known by his first name.

In this scene though, he was a nobody. Yet even here, you can get a sense of who Nicholas would become. The voice is there, the cadence, the body language, all of what makes Nicholson so unique.

His charisma, in other words, is already evolved and effective.