Howard McNear

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Howard McNear

Howard McNear as Floyd Lawson
BornHoward Terbell McNear
(1905-01-27)January 27, 1905
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJanuary 3, 1969(1969-01-03) (aged 63)
San Fernando Valley, California, U.S.
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Howard McNear

Howard McNear as Floyd Lawson
BornHoward Terbell McNear
(1905-01-27)January 27, 1905
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJanuary 3, 1969(1969-01-03) (aged 63)
San Fernando Valley, California, U.S.

Howard Terbell McNear (January 27, 1905 – January 3, 1969)[1][2] was an American film, television and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show and as Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke (1952–1961).



McNear was born in Los Angeles, California to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin E. McNear.[3] He worked as a theatical actor as early as 1930, and 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.[4] McNear could be effective in such authoritative roles, but he gravitated more toward character roles, often comic.

He enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army Air Corps on November 17, 1942 during World War II.[5]

He created the role of Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke (1952–1961).[6] 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 quirky roles, in the popular radio detective series Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar.[7] He guest starred in the Thanksgiving Day episode, November 26, 1959, of NBC's The Ford Show, Starring Tennessee Ernie Ford.[8] He appeared in three different guest-starring roles on the popular series Peter Gunn (1958-61).

In the television sitcom Leave It to Beaver, McNear made an appearance as a barber named Andy, a role which proved prophetic.[9]

McNear was best known for his performances as the vague, chatty barber Floyd Lawson on The Andy Griffith Show. In that role, McNear replaced actor Walter Baldwin, who was deemed too elderly for the part. McNear later said that he didn't replace anyone, but was playing Floyd Lawson, Jr. During the third season, McNear suffered a stroke that rendered him unable to walk though his speech remained intact. Griffith, who realized how much the Floyd character added to the show's dynamic, urged that he return to the role if possible. McNear resumed the role (after being off the show for almost a year and a half), with the production crew accommodating his disability. In his appearances on the show before the stroke, he is seen standing and working in his barber shop (and also walking freely). After the stroke, he is usually seen seated (in his barber chair or a park bench, etc.). The stagehands constructed a stand for him, which allowed him to stand and appear to be working, usually to comb hair (one-handed, of course).[10] There was an episode (after the stroke) where the sequence of camera shots made it appear that his character did indeed take some steps. His last appearance on the show was in the episode "Goober's Contest", which wrapped up the 1966-1967 season. In that final show, Floyd is seen visiting Goober's gas station in a sleek Mercury convertible that is driven to and from that scene by a double.


On January 3, 1969 McNear died of complications from pneumonia due to the effects of a stroke. He was interred in the Los Angeles National Cemetery, a former U.S. Veterans Administration cemetery.[11] Actor and old friend Parley Baer delivered his eulogy. His wife Helen and son Christopher survived him.[12]


In two episodes of the comedy sketch program Second City Television, actor Eugene Levy played McNear's Floyd the Barber. His first appearance as Floyd the Barber was in a parody of The Godfather, in the opening scene as Amerigo Bonasera, in which he asks the Don to hurt Opie for breaking his barber pole. The last line delivered by Floyd is "Ohh, and would you kill Howard Sprague for me?", referring to another character from the Andy Griffith Show. His other appearance was The Merv Griffith Show (a combination parody of the Andy Griffith Show and the Merv Griffin Show), in which he is in his barber shop cutting hair and at a surprise party for Gomer.

Selected filmography

1953The Long, Long TrailerJoe HittawayUncredited
1954Drums Across the RiverStilwell
1956You Can't Run Away from ItVernon, Second proprietor
1957The Fuzzy Pink NightgownJohn MyersUncredited
1958Bell, Book and CandleAndy White - Shep's Co-Publisher
1959Good Day for a HangingOlson
Anatomy of a MurderDr. Dompierre
It Started with a KissEmileUncredited
-30-EditorAlternative title: Deadline Midnight
1960Heller in Pink TightsPhotographer of dead gunmen
1961The Last Time I Saw ArchieGeneral Williams
Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaCongressman Parker
Blue HawaiiMr. Chapman
The Errand BoyDexter Sneak
1962Follow That DreamGeorge
1963Irma la DouceConcierge
The Wheeler DealersMr. WilsonAlternative title: Separate Beds
1964Kiss Me, StupidMr. Pettibone
1965Love and KissesMr. Frisby
1966The Fortune CookieMr. CimoliAlternative title: Meet Whiplash Willie
1955WaterfrontMike Baxter1 episode
WillySherman1 episode
1955–1958The George Burns and Gracie Allen ShowMr. Jansen2 episodes
1956LassieProfessor Scott1 episode
Gunsmokeconcerned citizen1 episode
I Love LucyMr. Crawford1 episode
1958The Thin ManMr. Dingle1 episode
Playhouse 90Bertram1 episode
Leave It to BeaverAndy the Barber1 episode
1959The Donna Reed ShowWilbur Wilgus2 episodes
The Gale Storm ShowParker1 episode
1960Richard Diamond, Private DetectiveDr. Braun1 episode
The Tab Hunter ShowPlumber1 episode
Peter GunnBarnaby1 episode
LaramieWaldo1 episode
Have Gun - Will TravelSamuels1 episode
1960-62The FlintstonesDoctor (Voice)3 episodes
1961KlondikeAugustus Brown1 episode
Alfred Hitchcock PresentsMr. Maxwell1 episode
Mister EdHarry Sweetzer1 episode
1961–1967The Andy Griffith ShowFloyd Lawson80 episodes
1962Pete and GladysProfessor Sheboyan1 episode
The Wide CountryAgent Carmody1 episode
1963The Twilight ZoneMr. Bramhoff1 episode - The Bard
1965Honey WestMr. Tweedy1 episode
Please Don't Eat the DaisiesMr. Arnold1 episode


  1. ^ Record of Howard McNear, Social Security Death Index.
  2. ^ Record of Howard T. McNear. California Death Index, 1940-1997 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000.
  3. ^ community; Howard T. McNear
  4. ^ Radio Broadcast Log Of: Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police
  5. ^ National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
  6. ^ Gunsmoke Radio series information
  7. ^ Golden Age of Radio
  8. ^ "The Ford Show Episode Guide". Retrieved November 23, 2010. 
  9. ^ Leave it to Beaver episode info, "The Shave"
  10. ^ Howard McNear biography
  11. ^ Find a Grave, Howard McNear
  12. ^ "Howard McNear, Actor, 63; On Andy Griffith Show", The New York Times, January 7, 1969, p. 38.

External links