Town drunk Otis Campbell, portrayed by Hal Smith, was easily one of the funniest recurring characters on The Andy Griffith Show. Between Otis, Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife, it's hard to not double down laughing watching the classic CBS sitcom. Smith was almost too good at playing the consistently inebriated resident of Mayberry, but it was that goofy skillset that gave him quite a career in Hollywood.
Harold John Smith was born in Michigan in 1916 but grew up in New York. During his high school days, he started making a name for himself locally as the teenager singer, Harold Smith. Following graduation in 1936, he found himself a job as a disc jockey for WIBX in Utica, New York, which gave him an early taste for entertaining the masses. But it wasn't until after he served in the U.S. Army's Special Services branch entertaining the troops during World War II that Smith finally made the move across the United States to Los Angeles.
Otis Campbell was definitely a problem character on the show. The character of Otis spent plenty of time behind bars, but Smith couldn't have been farther from Otis in real life. Not only was he married to his longtime love Louise from 1936 until her death in 1992, but he was able to send positive messages through Otis Campbell outside of the show. The character appeared in Mothers Against Drunk Driving TV commercials and even made an appearance in Alan Jackson's music video for "Don't Rock the Juke Box."
Though playing the role of Otis Campbell on Andy Griffith and Return To Mayberry is definitely what Smith is best remembered for, he appeared on a number of other TV shows and films, most notably as a voice actor. Some of his most iconic roles include An American Tail, Hey There, It's Yogi Bear! as Corn Pone and Moose, and Owl in the Walt Disney film The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and the TV show The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh ( he voiced Owl as well as Winnie the Pooh in various sequels). He also voiced the role of Goofy in Mickey's Christmas Carol and Philippe the horse in Beauty and the Beast.
But that doesn't even begin to cover all of the animated TV series and TV movies that Smith worked on -- Scooby-Doo Where Are You, DuckTales as Gyro Gearloose and Flintheart Glomgold, Welcome to Pooh Corner, The Smurfs, Little House on the Prairie, Here Comes Garfield, Casper's First Christmas, The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Hour as Elmer Fudd, and The All-New Popeye Hour to name a few. He even played Santa Claus in Yogi's First Christmas, The Flintstone's Christmas special, A Flintstone Christmas, as well as on The Brady Bunch.
One of Smith's favorite projects he ever worked on however was the radio program, Adventures in Odyssey, where Smith voiced the main character, John Avery Whittaker. Even after his health started to deteriorate, Smith continued recording. He even recorded episodes weeks before he died of a heart attack in 1994. Smith will be remembered for so much more than his days playing Otis Campbell. He lives on in so many of the cartoons that he helped bring to life, continuing to bring children and families joy to this day.