Andy Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012)
We are saddened to report the passing of a true entertainment legend, Andy Griffith. He was 86 years old.
“TV shows come and go, but there’s only one Andy Griffith,” President George W. Bush said when awarding Griffith the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. “And we thank him for being such a friendly and beloved presence in our American life.”
Born on June 1, 1926, in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith rose to fame on the power of his comedy routine "What It Was, Was Football," in which he described a football game as seen from the perspective of a yokel who had never seen it before.
He appeared on The Steve Allen Show and The Ed Sullivan Show, before that fateful night of October 3, 1960, when America met Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina in the first episode of The Andy Griffith Show.
The series, which ran for eight seasons, was never out of the top ten. Griffith’s Taylor was a widower with a young son, Opie, played by Ron Howard. Taylor was full of homespun wisdom but surrounded by mostly kind but definitely neurotic characters including Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife and Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle.
Two shows spun off from the series, Mayberry R.F.D. and Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., but it is the 249 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, with its familiar whistling theme song and memorable supporting players, that made the show a fondly remembered television fixture.
In 1986, Griffith and most of the surviving cast reunited for Return to Mayberry, a TV movie. The year would prove a big one for him. After almost two decades of performing as a guest star and a couple of attempts at starring in other series – including two short seasons of Salvage 1 in the mid-1970s – Griffith scored another hit series with Matlock.
Casting him as an elderly but extremely crafty lawyer, Ben Matlock, the series ran for nine seasons
In 1996, after that series ended, he recorded the album I Love to Tell the Story - 25 Timeless Hymns, and won the Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album.
He is survived by Cindi Knight, his third wife, and a daughter Dixie Nan.