The entertainment world lost one of its most beloved faces on Tuesday when Andy Griffith passed away at the age of 86. Griffith was known for his character as Sheriff Andy Taylor on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and for his role on the show ‘Matlock.’ Griffith died around 7 a.m. at his home in Manteo, according to Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie. In 2000, Griffith underwent quadruple bypass surgery after suffering a heart attack.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ aired from 1960 to 1968 and a reunion movie, ‘Return to Mayberry,’ aird in 1985-86. Craig Fincannon, a friend of Griffith’s said, “I see so many TV shows about the South where the creative powers behind it have no life experience in the South. What made ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ work was Andy Griffith himself – the fact that he was of this dirt and had such deep respect for the people and places of his childhood. A character might be broadly eccentric, but the character had an ethical and moral base that allowed us to laugh with them and not at them. And Andy Griffith’s the reason for that.”
Griffith’s career also included a stint on Broadway when he was ‘No Time for Sergeants’ and in movies with Elia Kazan’s ‘A Face in the Crowd.’ Griffith was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2005 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, which is the highest honor for a civilian in the United States. In television history, ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was only the third series to end when it was atop the ratings. The other two shows were ‘I Love Lucy’ and ‘Seinfeld.’ “Griffith said he decided to end the show “because I thought it was slipping, and I didn’t want it to go down further.”
Griffith said that his favorite episodes of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ were the ones that emphasized the character played by Don Knotts, Deputy Barney Fife.
“The second episode that we shot, I knew Don should be funny and I should play straight for him,” Griffith said. “That opened up the whole series because I could play straight for everybody else. And I didn’t have to be funny. I just let them be funny.”
In 1997, Griffith won a Grammy for an album of gospel music he released called “I Love to Tell the Story – 25 Timeless Hymns.” Griffith appeared in the movie ‘Waitress’ in 2007 as the boss at a diner. In 2008, Griffith was in the award-winning music video ‘Waitin’ on a Woman’ from Brad Paisley.
Griffith was born in Mount Airy in 1926, where he played the slide trombone for the band at the Grace Moravian Church. Griffith studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fincannon said Griffith was the symbol of North Carolina, which “put heavy pressure on him because everyone felt like he was their best friend. With great grace, he handled the constant barrage of people wanting to talk to Andy Taylor.”