Andy Griffith, whose down-home and folksy persona earned him fans from all generations, died today at the age of 86. No cause of death has been given.
North Carolina born, Griffith earned a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and soon found himself appearing of the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allen television programs. Those appearances led to him being cast in the Broadway show ‘No Time For Sergeants,” which earned him a Tony award nomination for supporting actor. He would earn a second nomination in 1960 as Best Actor in a Musical for “Destry Rides Again.” That same year he also took on one of his two most memorable roles, that of small town sheriff Andy Taylor in “The Andy Griffith Show.” The show ran 8 seasons on CBS, then became “Mayberry R.F.D” when Griffith elected to leave the show. He did appear in six episodes of the new show as a way to show continuity. He spent the next decade appearing on film and the occasional episodic television shows.
in 1981, he earned an Emmy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor in a Mini Series for his work in “Murder in Texas.” Incredibly, this was the only Emmy nomination he would receive in his career.
He made his film debut in the Elia Kazan movie “A Face In The Crowd.” His performance as “Lonesome” Rhodes is memorable. His work, as a backwoods hobo who rises to the rank of kingmaker as his popularity grows is one of the greatest film debuts in history.
In 1986 Griffith returned to television full time with the legal series, “Matlock.” In later years Griffith called the role his all time favorite.
But it is as Sheriff Andy Taylor that I will remember him. Still a television re-run staple, “The Andy Griffith Show” is a look back to a simpler time, when you knew your neighbors and your neighbors knew you! With Griffith’s passing only Ron Howard and actress Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou on the show, are the only surviving regulars left from the cast.