Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Life Just Became Empty In Mayberry

Legendary television actor Andy Griffith, best remembered for his portrayal of a sheriff in a fictitous North Carolina town in an iconic 1960s sitcom, passed away on Tuesday at his home in Manteo, North Carolina at age 86.

A native of Mount Airy, North Carolina, Mr. Griffith majored in music at the University of North Carolina and became a music teacher.

But Andy, who wanted to be a singer, had show business in his blood.  As a stand-up comedian, he recorded a hit comedy monologue entitled "What It Was Was Football" which came out in 1953.

He received a Tony Award nomination soon afterward for his portrayal of a hayseed Army private in "No Time For Sergeants."  Andy reprised the role in a live US Steel Hour 1955 telecast of the play and in the 1958 motion picture adaptation, both sporting the same title.

In 1957, he played country bumpkin-turned-TV personality and (behind the scenes) demagogue Lonesome Rhodes in the classic motion picuture "A Face In The Crowd," which co-starred Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, and Lee Remick.

In a 1960 episode of The Danny Thomas Show, Danny Thomas' character was arrested in a sleepy Southern town where the sheriff, played by Mr. Griffith, was also the mayor.  It was from this episode that Andy's weekly series emerged.

The Andy Griffith Show was one of the legendary television situation comedy series, with Andy playing the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor, who seemed to be the most level-headed of all the characters on the show.  He was aided by bumbling deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts.  Living as home in Mayberry, North Carolina with the widowed sheriff were his son Opie (played by Ronny Howard) and Aunt Bee Taylor (Frances Bavier).

Andy left the show in 1968 after eight years.  The series was renamed Mayberry RFD and lasted another three highly-rated seasons.

After headlining three failed short-lived series in the 1970s he starred in another hit, Matlock in which he played Southern criminal defense attorney Ben Matlock.  The series ran from 1986 to 1994.

The town of Mayberry was based on Andy's old home town of Mt. Airy.

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