Count Istvan Teleky is the name of an 18th century nobleman featured on the CBS rural comedy THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW (1960-68).
On episode No. 142 “Three Wishes for Opie,” a deck of cards was discovered inside an ornate box purchased at a police auction in Mt. Pilot by Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) who believed the box was owned by a band of roving gypsies.
The box was part of a fortune-telling game which contained an Aladdin-like oil lamp, a deck of cards and a book of instructions and incantations from a Count Istvan Teleky.
Curious to see if the fortune-telling kit worked, Barney sprinkles some dust on the flame of the lamp and invokes the Count’s spirit by reading an incantation found in the book.
“I call upon you Oh, Count Teleky, to impart your mystical powers to earthly things. I ask you whose presence hovers over us eternally, to invest these cards with your very spirit.”
Later, Barney invites Opie Taylor (Ron Howard), the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) to play the fortune-telling game. Dealing cards from the box, Barney refers to the book in the box for an explanation and discovers, “When two identical cards come up on the same pile that’s when you got something.” Barney dealt two flaming torch cards, which meant Opie was granted three wishes.
Opie Taylor wishes for a jack-knife, and a “B” in Arithmetic on his report card, and gets both. As he contemplates his third wish, Opie mentions his teacher Miss Helen Crump (Aneta Corsaut) and Barney jumps the gun and tells Opie he knows what it is: to have his father Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) married to Helen Crump.
With all three wishes supposedly coming true, Barney conducts a seance with his friends Goober and Floyd, dealing two unicorn cards (which grants one wish). He wishes for a fingerprint set and moments later it arrives. He had ordered it 6 months earlier from the county. Was it just delayed or was it Count Teleky in action?
In the end, Opie Taylor reveals his third wish was not for his father marry his teacher, but that she would be his 6th grade teacher next year in school. And, it did happen, Miss Crump was told she would be transferred to the sixth grade.
A short time later, Andy and Helen discuss the possibility of getting married in June. Just then Barney arrives with a newspaper article mentioning that exact date for their proposed nuptials. Hmm? Maybe old Count Teleky is alive and well and prognosticating in Mayberry after all?
NOTE: Living near the town of Mayberry were mountain folks by the name of The Darlings who believed in hexes, and bad omens, like appearance of an owl or a man riding backwards on a horse.
Here are some examples of magical chants used to prevent hexes and bad omens heard on the program.
- “Wink ‘um pink ‘um, nodamus rex, protect us all, from the man with the hex.” (Said while reaching your right arm over your head and touching your left earlobe with your eyes closed.)
- “Come fish come, come fish come, Sam’s at the gate, with a frosted cake, come fish come…Fly away buzzard, fly away crow, way down South where the winds don’t blow. Rub your nose, and give two winks, and save us from this awful jinx”
- “Ebum, shoobum, shoobum, shoobum” (Andy before the signing of Opie and Andilina’s marriage certificate).