Sheldon Leonard was an American film and television actor, producer, director and writer.
As an actor, Leonard specialized in playing supporting characters, especially gangsters or "heavies", in films such as It's a Wonderful Life, To Have and Have Not, and Guys and Dolls.
Later in the 1950s and 1960s, he established a reputation as a producer of successful television series, including The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room For Daddy), The Andy Griffith Show, Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C., The Dick Van Dyke Show, and I Spy. He also directed several episodes of these series.
The character of Sheriff Andy Taylor was introduced in a 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show, which led to The Andy Griffith Show. Leonard is informally credited with developing the practice of using an episode of a series as a backdoor pilot episode for new series, in which a guest star is introduced as a new character with the intention of using this character as the basis for a new show.
Sheldon Leonard was inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame in 1992.