Howard McNear

Howard Terbell McNear (January 27, 1905 January 3, 1969)[1][2] was an American stage, screen, and radio character actor. McNear is best remembered as Floyd Lawson, the barber in The Andy Griffith Show (1960-1968).

Howard McNear
McNear as Floyd Lawson
Howard Terbell McNear

(1905-01-27)January 27, 1905
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
DiedJanuary 3, 1969(1969-01-03) (aged 63)
Resting placeLos Angeles National Cemetery
Alma materOatman School of Theater
Years active1930s1969
Spouse(s)Helen McNear (1926-1969)


McNear was born in Los Angeles to Luzetta M. Spencer and Franklin E. McNear.[3] He studied at the Oatman School of Theater and later joined a stock company in San Diego.[4] 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.[5] 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.[6] He created the role of Doc Charles Adams in CBS Radio's Gunsmoke (1952–1961).[7] 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.[8] McNear made his film debut in an uncredited role in the 1953 film Escape from Fort Bravo.[9] In 1955, he appeared in an episode of the first season of the TV show "Gunsmoke." In a 1958 episode of Leave it to Beaver, McNear made a 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 in graphic detail about collecting evidence of a rape. In 1960 on an episode of Peter Gunn, titled, "A Slight Touch Of Homicide", McNear was portrayed as Mr. Barnaby, a person with the exact same mannerisms as Floyd the barber, except he was a happy go lucky crazy chemist who killed 15 mobsters by blowing them up, doing it as a community service.

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.[10] 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.[4] 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 1964 episode titled "Otis Sues the County" and a 1967 episode titled "Goober's 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.[11] He left the series in 1967.


Less than a month before his 64th birthday, McNear died January 3, 1969, from pneumonia following a stroke at San Fernando Valley Veterans Hospital in Sylmar, California.[12] He was interred in the Los Angeles National Cemetery. Actor Parley Baer delivered his eulogy.[12]. Baer had played Mayor Stoner of Mayberry. McNear also portrayed Doc Adams in the radio version of Gunsmoke, often interacting with Baer's character, Chester Proudfoot.


Year Title Role Notes
1953 Escape from Fort Bravo Watson Uncredited
1953 The Long, Long Trailer Joe Hittaway Uncredited
1954 Drums Across the River Stilwell
1956 You Can't Run Away from It Vernon, Second proprietor
1956 Bundle of Joy Mr. Appleby
1957 Affair in Reno James T. James
1957 Public Pigeon No. One Warden
1957 The Fuzzy Pink Nightgown John Myers Uncredited
1958 Bell, Book and Candle Andy White - Shep's Co-Publisher
1959 Good Day for a Hanging Olson
1959 Anatomy of a Murder Dr. Dompierre
1959 The Big Circus Mr. Lomax
1959 It Started with a Kiss Emile Uncredited
1959 -30- Editor Alternative title: Deadline Midnight
1960 Heller in Pink Tights Photographer of dead gunmen
1960 The Last Time I Saw Archie General Williams
1960 Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea Congressman Llewellyn Parker
1961 Blue Hawaii Mr. Chapman
1960 The Errand Boy Dexter Sneak
1962 Bachelor Flat Dr. Dylan Bowman
1962 Follow That Dream George
1963 Irma la Douce Concierge
1963 The Wheeler Dealers Mr. Wilson Alternative title: Separate Beds
1963 Fun in Acapulco Dr. John Stevers Uncredited
1964 Kiss Me, Stupid Mr. Pettibone
1965 My Blood Runs Cold Henry
1965 Love and Kisses Mr. Frisby
1966 The Fortune Cookie Mr. Cimoli Alternative title: Meet Whiplash Willie
Year Title Role Notes
1950 NBC Comics Minor role Voice, Unknown episodes
1952-1955 Four Star Playhouse Various roles 3 episodes
1953–1958 The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show Mr. Jansen 7 episodes
1954 Dragnet Episode: "The Big Threat"
1954 Topper Judge Episode: "County Fair"
1955 Waterfront Mike Baxter Episode: "The Rivals"
1955 Willy Various roles 2 episodes
1955-1958 The Millionaire Various roles 2 episodes
1955-1959 Schlitz Playhouse of Stars Various roles 2 episodes
1956 Chevron Hall of Stars Teeples Episode: "The Bequest"
1956 The George Gobel Show Sketch Actor Episode #2.18
1956 It's a Great Life Mr. Johnson Episode: "The Charity Drive"
1956 Screen Directors Playhouse Various roles 2 episodes
1956 Lassie Professor Scott Episode: "Bone"
1956 I Love Lucy Mr. Crawford Episode: "Little Ricky Gets Stage Fright"
1956-1957 The Brothers Captain Sam Box 2 episodes
1956-1964 Gunsmoke Various roles 6 episodes
1956-1957 December Bride Various roles 3 episodes
1957 Private Secretary Eye Doctor Episode: "Thy Name Is Sands"
1957 Cavalcade of America Phil Episode: "The Last Signer"
1957 The Ford Television Theatre Dave Carter Episode: "The Idea Man"
1957 The Adventures of Jim Bowie Colonel Episode: "Country Cousin"
1957 The George Sanders Mystery Theater Ben Episode: "The Night I Died"
1957-1958 The People's Choice Various roles 2 episodes
1957-1961 General Electric Theater Various roles 4 episodes
1958 The Thin Man Mr. Dingle Episode: "Unlucky Lucky Number"
1958 The Life of Riley Mr. Bellflower Episode: "Bowling Beauties"
1958 Playhouse 90 Bertram Episode: "No Time At All"
1958 Leave It to Beaver Andy the Barber Episode: "The Shave"
1958-1959 Bachelor Father Various roles 2 episodes
1958-1962 The Real McCoys Various roles 4 episodes
1958-1959 The Lineup Various roles 2 episodes
1958-1960 The Ann Sothern Show Various roles 3 episodes
1958-1962 The Jack Benny Program Various roles 7 episodes
1959 The Donna Reed Show Wilbur Wilgus 2 episodes
1959 M Squad Carl Hoganson Episode: "Murder in C-Sharp Minor"
1959 Alcoa Theatre Harry Episode:Tom, Dick, and Harry
1959 The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet Mr. Folwer Episode: "The Nelsons Decide to Move"
1959 Pony Express Ralph Whitaker Episode: "-The Good Samaritan"
1959 The Gale Storm Show Parker Episode: "Spanish Souvenir"
1959-1960 Peter Gunn Various roles 3 episodes
1960 Richard Diamond, Private Detective Dr. Braun Episode: "The Fine Art of Murder"
1960 Man with a Camera George Episode: "Hot Ice Cream"
1960 Goodyear Theatre Kramer Episode: "Marked Down for Connie"
1960 Happy Mr. Williams Episode: "The Wedding Anniversary"
1960 Tom, Dick and Harry Owner Television movie
1960 Outlaws Conductor Episode: "Thirty a Month"
1960 The Tab Hunter Show Plumber Episode: "The Matchmaker"
1960 Angel Mr. Hopkins Episode: "The Maid"
1960 Maverick Various roles 2 episodes
1960 Laramie Waldo Episode: "Duel at Parkison Town"
1960-1961 Alfred Hitchcock Presents Various roles 2 episodes
1960-1962 The Flintstones Doctor Voice, 3 episodes
1961 Klondike Augustus Brown Episode: "The Golden Burro"
1961 Michael Shayne Ralph Beale Episode: "Murder at the Convention"
1961 Mister Ed Harry Sweetzer Episode: "Pine Lake Lodge"
1961 The Joey Bishop Show Episode: "Charity Begins at Home"
1961 The Tall Man Cyrus Skinner Episode: "A Tombstone for Billy"
1961–1967 The Andy Griffith Show Floyd Lawson 80 episodes, (incl. final appearance)
1962 Room for One More Mr. Sommers Episode: "The Anniversary"
1962 Pete and Gladys Professor Sheboyan Episode: "Follow That Skeleton"
1962 Thriller Jack Passasstroy Episode: "Cousin Tundifer"
1962 Frontier Circus Judge Stuart Episode: "Calamity Circus"
1962 Calvin and the Colonel Ernie Voice, 2 episodes
1962 Margie Selkirk Episode: "Margie, the Gossip Columnist"
1962 Alcoa Premiere Charles Bennett Episode: "The Time of the Tonsils"
1962 The Wide Country Agent Carmody Episode: "Straitjacket for an Indian"
1962 The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis Various roles 2 episodes
1962 The Twilight Zone Mitchell Episode: "Hocus-Pocus and Frisby"
1963 The Twilight Zone Bramhoff Episode: "The Bard"
1964 Gunsmoke Howard Rudd Episode: “Aunt Thede”
1965 Harris Against the World Clark Episode: "Harris Against Anniversary Gifts"
1965 Honey West Mr. Tweedy Episode: "A Nice Little Till to Tap"
1965 Please Don't Eat the Daisies Mr. Arnold Episode: "The Leaning Tower of Ridgemont"


  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, US: The Generations Network, Inc., 2000.
  3. community; Howard T. McNear
  4. Kelly, Richard Michael (1985). The Andy Griffith Show. John F. Blair, Publisher. p. 49. ISBN 0-895-87522-5.
  5. Radio Broadcast Log Of: Speed Gibson of the International Secret Police
  6. National Archives and Records Administration. U.S. World War II Army Enlistment Records, 1938-1946 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, US: The Generations Network, Inc., 2005.
  7. Gunsmoke Radio series information
  8. Golden Age of Radio
  9. "Howard McNear". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-11-22.
  10. Shull, Richard K. (June 27, 1976). "TV's Answer Man". Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved May 14, 2013.
  11. Kelly 1985 p.65
  12. "Howard McNear, Actor, 63; On Andy Griffith Show", The New York Times, January 7, 1969, p. 38.
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