Jack Dodson
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Jack Dodson Played Mayberry's Straight-Laced County Clerk, Howard Sprague


The name Jack Dodson will forever be synonymous with that of Howard Sprague, the square mama's boy from The Andy Griffith Show and spinoff series Mayberry R.F.D.

Dodson first appeared on The Andy Griffith Show as insurance agent Ed Jenkins in the 1966 episode "Lost and Found." He returned to the series that same year as Sprague, a county clerk, and became a regular part of the Andy multiverse moving forward, including an appearance in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry.

Griffith discovered Dodson after seeing him in the Broadway production of Hughie. His role as Sprague would help make up for the 1965 exit of Don Knotts as the series went from black-and-white to color.


Dodson later followed Ron Howard to Happy Days, playing Ralph Malph's optometrist father Dr. Mickey Malph, and rejoined Griffith on-screen in an episode of Matlock.

The Pittsburgh native had already made appearances in the shows Car 54, Where Are You?; Hazel; The Fugitive and The Virginian.

Character actor work in the '70s and beyond included appearances on Barney Miller,  Archie Bunker's Place, One Day at a Time, Newhart, Maude, Growing Pains, L.A. Law, Mr. Belvedere, Cagney & Lacey, Hawaii Five-O, Mork & Mindy, The Doris Day Show, Homefront, It's Garry Shandling's Show (as the Sprague character) and Welcome Back, Kotter.

He also landed a recurring role as Judge Farnham on St. Elsewhere.


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Dodson's short yet impressive list of film roles positioned him to appear in two Sam Peckinpah films (The Getaway and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid) plus Clint Eastwood's Thunderbolt and Lightfoot and one of the stranger Disney productions, Something Wicked This Way Comes.

Jack's wife, Mary Dodson, was the art director for numerous television shows and the sister of character actor Fritz Weaver.

Dodson passed away on Sept. 16, 1994 in Los Angeles from heart failure. He was 63.


This story was originally published on May 12, 2021.

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