[“...television’s Gomer Pyle was based on [Sergeants’ lead] Will Stockdale, and even the latter day Forrest Gump borrows from Will’s childlike worldview.” —MoMA Blog]
The very first adaptation of Mac Hyman's comedic novel No Time For Sergeants was this legendary, live one-hour 1955 production scripted by Levin, which introduced Andy Griffith to the nation. (Levin would also write the later, full-length Broadway stage adaptation.)
Levin was a shoo-in to write this U.S. Steel Hour adaptation, having previously scripted the original, military-themed Notebook Warrior for the storied series, and being himself – just like lead character Will Stockdale – a private in the armed forces at the time.
Both Levin's script – and Andy Griffith – were deemed so uproariously funny that the show's producers incorporated a live audience into the broadcast – a first for the Steel Hour (and possibly for any dramatized television production) – adding bleachers to the set's periphery, to accommodate some 150 attendees.
Unlike Notebook Warrior, the Army had no formal involvement with Sergeants, so Levin wrote his TV adaptation during three weeks of accumulated leave time. (LA Times)
The production was broadcast live from at ABC's studios on West 66th Street in New York, at 9:30pm on Tuesday March 15, 1955.
The TV production was a walloping success, and Levin was straightaway hired by actor/producer Maurice Evans to pen a full-length Broadway adaptation. (Evans had purchased the stage rights prior to the television production's coming into being.)