Andy Griffith (1926-2012)

CBS News: Andy Griffith dead at 86

Actor Andy Griffith, whose portrayal of a rural sheriff in a popular 1960s TV show earned him the title of “America’s Favorite Sheriff,” died Tuesday morning. He was 86.

Andrew Samuel Griffith was born June 1, 1926, in Mt. Airy, N.C., a town much like Mayberry. As a child, he sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. He originally wanted a career as a musician, but his skills as a storyteller, mixed in with lots of country humor, soon came out. …

Griffith is most famous for television, playing Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, but he was never better than he was in A Face in the Crowd. As “Lonesome Rhodes” in Elia Kazan’s 1957 movie, Griffith was just astonishing — charismatic, frightening, magnetic and repulsive all at the same time. A terrific performance in a terrific film:


Update: From Mark Evanier’s lovely remembrance: “The best thing I can tell you about Andy Griffith, who has just died at the age of 86, is that I never saw or heard any reason to think he was not like the characters he played on TV.”

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  • Jessica_R

    And one of my favorite after-school memories is watching Matlock, RIP. 

  • GG

    I would second the recommendation for ” A Face in the Crowd”. It’s  a great and surprising movie. Watch it with “Ace in the Hole” and “The Sweet Smell of Success” and you will have a totally different view of 50s popular culture.   

  • Aiwhelan

    I grew up somehow connecting Andy Griffith with my own grandfather, in the combined kindliness and authority that his role as Matlock portrayed. It makes me very sad to think of him gone now as well.

  • Tonio

    Although I respected Griffith as an actor, I never took to the rural-themed sitcoms that came out of the 1960s. Seeing them 10 to 15 years later, I was struck by how reactionary they were. It wasn’t just that embodied the “plain folks” intellectualism also found in much of country music. The shows seemed like deliberate attempts to escape the social changes of that era, like their target viewers were Silent Majority types.

  • LouisDoench

    I can still whistle the tune to the Andy Griffith Show.  ;(

  • TheFaithfulStone

    Dude, did you ever watch Andy Griffith?  I’m not going to defend it’s (lack of) race consciousness, but the show is full to the brim of (actual) Christian morality.

    The one where Andy is basically forced to arrest a bootlegger on Christmas – but then “arrests” his whole family so they can spend Christmas together?

    The one where he figure out how to keep the family in their home in the face of a foreclosure?

    Most of the time the “criminals” in Andy Griffith are generally portrayed as sympathetic people who made bad decisions or fell on hard times, not depraved psychopaths.  (Contrast this with the Law & Order formula, which generally sets it up so that the viewer can sort of sympathize with the criminal, and then reveals in the third act that no, they’re just a bad egg.)

    If the Andy Griffith show had a “theme” it was that the “system” could work if you let good people run it, and you let them run it as people and not as automatons.  I mean, you can get all high cynic and claim that every organization eventually grinds up whatever decency exists within it – but if that’s a belief that marks “plain folks” reactionary intellectualism, then so be it.

  • Tonio

    I’ve only seen a couple of episodes of the Griffith show, and perhaps Green Acres and the Beverly Hillbillies and Hee-Haw (all of which I saw first) ruined me for the genre. And don’t get me started on the Dukes of Hazzard.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    Andy Griffith is to HeeHaw as Twilight is to Dracula

  • SisterCoyote

    A Face in the Crowd is one of those films I think will stay with me forever. Saw it for the first time in a Communications class (which will also stay with me forever), and just – the whole thing, start to finish, is excellent.

    He will be missed.

  • PJ Evans

     I think you might have that backwards. Although most of the people on Hee Haw were genuinely country, the show was a variety show.

  • TheFaithfulStone

    LOL. You’re right. The other thing.

    Andy Griffith – good and charming “country”
    Dracula – scary vampires with sexy sex

    HeeHaw / Dukes of Hazard – condescending crap
    Twilight – chaste sparkly vampires.

  • Tonio

    I’m willing to give the Griffith show another try. It came before Beverly Hillbillies and Green Acres, which leads me to suspect that those others were poor attempts to copy. 

  • The Andy Griffith show was nothing whatsoever like Green Acres or the Beverly Hillbillies or Hee-haw. I think the first season may have started out that way, somewhat, but thanks in large part to Griffith, it changed to something real. Just because something is set in a small town, that doesn’t make it the “ha ha let’s laugh at the hicks” genre. To Kill A Mockingbird was also set in a small town.

    Seriously. Not the same genre. At all. The Andy Griffith show was character-driven, and the characters were very real, even when the goofiest one was being goofy. 

  • MadGastronomer

    The Andy Griffith Show’s Mayberry is a loving portrait of Griffith’s hometown of Mt. Airy (in the show, Mt Airy is the next town over). I have a lot of family in Mt. Airy. That town loves Andy and his show to this day. I have never heard anyone say a word against it. It does not in anyway make fun of the small town or its people, although it gently teases. It is emphatically not a look-at-the-stupid-hicks show. Characters like Goober and Gomer are meant to represent the not-so-bright, but good-hearted and beloved members of the community. Goober’s truck is proudly displayed alongside Andy’s police car in Mt Airy.

  • hamletta

    Andy Griffith was raised in the Moravian Church, which was informed by the teachings of Johan Huss, who was burned at the stake in 1415.

    Their web site is holding up well under the strain. They’re beautiful cats. 

  • gocart mozart

    I had a dog back in the day, one year old German Shepherd mix, who the first time he heard the Andy Griffith theme song on the T.V. started howling like a banshee.  Funny as hell.  R.I.P. both of them. 

  • gocart mozart

    Griffith is a great sitcom of its era. Give it a try.

  • gocart mozart

    O.K., that was from left field and I now must use my Google-Fu to look up Johan Huss and the Moravian Church.  If you don’t here back from me, blame the stake-burners.

  • gocart mozart