The man best known as the sheriff of Mayberry passed away this morning at the age of 86. Andy Griffith began acting in the late 1950s but his real break into acting came on The Danny Thomas Show where he played a small town sheriff named Andy Taylor. The character was carried over the classic television series The Andy Griffith Show which aired from 1960 to 1968. The Andy Griffith Show spun off a series Mayberry RFD in which Griffith guest starred a number times. After appearing in a number of series and movies, Griffith returned to primetime television in 1986 in the show Matlock. Griffith played Ben Matlock, a country lawyer in Georgia with love of hot dogs and outrageously high fees. The series ran until 1995. Griffith appeared in a few movies after his role in Matlock, but mostly kept to himself and returned to his home state of North Carolina.
Griffith was born in the small town of Mount Airy, North Carolina, the town many have speculated was the inspiration for the town of Mayberry in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith was married three times and had two children. His son Sam died in 1996. Griffith’s work on television included more than just acting. He is credited as a producer for a number of series including The Andy Griffith Show, Mayberry RFD, and Matlock. In addition to his acting career, Griffith was known for his gospel singing for which he released a number of albums from 1956 to 2005.
It is hard to put into words what he has meant to generations of people. It would be difficult to find someone who has not heard his name. Griffith is responsible for two iconic classic television series, The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. The characters he brought to live will never be forgotten and neither will he.
Friends and acquaintances of Griffith have shared their thoughts and memories, and I thought it would be best to share their words:
Ron Howard: “Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy”
Ron Howard has also written a piece for the Los Angeles Times, you can read it HERE.
Jim Nabors: “I was saddened this morning to learn of the passing of my good friend Andy Griffith. He was a legend. My thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.”
Larry King: “Sad to hear news of Andy Griffith’s death. He was a terrific actor, a great comedian, an endearing person. He lived a long & fruitful life.”
President Barack Obama: “Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Griffith this morning. A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.”
North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue: “North Carolina has lost its favorite son. Andy Griffith graciously stepped into the living rooms of generations of Americans, always with the playful charm that made him the standard by which entertainers would be measured for decades. Throughout his career, he represented everything that was good about North Carolina: a small town boy and UNC graduate who took a light-hearted approach to some of the attributes he grew up with and turned them into a spectacularly successful career. And regardless of where that career took him, he always came back to North Carolina and spent his final years here.”
North Carolina Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton: “I am saddened to hear of the passing of Andy Griffith, a true legend. I have been a longtime fan and it was my pleasure to come to know him. Andy Griffith was not only an icon for North Carolina, but he was a genuine person and a true gentleman. Lucille and a send our thoughts and prayers to Cindi and the entire Griffith family.”
U.S. Senator Richard Burr: “Brooke and I were very sad to learn of the passing of Andy Griffith today. Andy was a true North Carolina icon who introduced many people across the country and across the world to our great state for the first time. While his passing is sad, the legacy he leaves through his work on television and in his community will remain timeless, and future generations will be able to enjoy and appreciate his talent for years to come.”
Senator Kay Hagan: “Andy Griffith was an iconic figure and a great man who embodied southern hospitality. By making ‘Mayberry’ famous, he put North Carolina — his home state — on the map. A native of Mount Airy, Andy did so much for our state and will be missed by North Carolinians and by the millions of people who adored him, especially for his roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. My thoughts and prayers are with his family. Andy will truly be missed.”