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Howard McNear

Actor

Howard Terbell McNear was a stage, screen, and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968).

McNear was born in Los Angeles to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin E. McNear. He studied at the Oatman School of Theater and later joined a stock company in San Diego. McNear also worked in radio from the late 1930s, distinguishing himself in the 1937–1940 radio serial Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police as ace operator Clint Barlow. McNear could be effective in such authoritative roles, but he gravitated more toward character roles, often comic.

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Howard Terbell McNear was a stage, screen, and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968).

McNear was born in Los Angeles to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin E. McNear. He studied at the Oatman School of Theater and later joined a stock company in San Diego. McNear also worked in radio from the late 1930s, distinguishing himself in the 1937–1940 radio serial Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police as ace operator Clint Barlow. McNear could be effective in such authoritative roles, but he gravitated more toward character roles, often comic.

He enlisted as a private in the United States Army Air Corps on November 17, 1942, during World War II. He created the role of Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke (1952–1961). McNear was under contract to CBS for many years and was featured in many of the network's radio and TV programs. From 1955 to 1960 he appeared frequently, in various roles, in the popular radio detective series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. McNear made his film debut in an uncredited role in the 1951 sci-fi film The Day The Earth Stood Still as a boarding house resident along with the alien visitor Klaatu, and the 1953 film Escape from Fort Bravo. In a 1958 episode of Leave it to Beaver, McNear made his first TV appearance as a barber named "Andy", who gave Wally his first shave. Over the course of his career, he would appear in over one hundred film and television guest spots. In 1959, McNear portrayed Dr. Dompierre in the film Anatomy of a Murder who testified about collecting evidence of a rape.

In 1961, McNear was cast as the vague, chatty barber Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show. During the show's run, he suffered a stroke that rendered the left side of his body nearly paralyzed. He left the series for nearly a year and a half to recover. Andy Griffith asked McNear to return to the series, to which McNear agreed despite being unable to walk or stand, and the production crew accommodated him accordingly, as Floyd was usually seen onscreen either seated, or standing with support. Many scenes were shot with him sitting on a bench outside the barber shop, as opposed to actively trimming hair as before. In most of his post-stroke scenes, McNear's left hand would be holding a newspaper or resting in his lap, while he moved his right arm and hand as he spoke his lines. In a 1967 episode titled "Goobers Contest," McNear's character is heard, but not seen, walking into the courthouse. The next scene shows Floyd already seated in a chair. According to Jack Dodson, who played Howard Sprague on The Andy Griffith Show, McNear began having difficulty remembering his lines and became anxious and frustrated. He left the series in 1967.

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