Thursday, July 5, 2012

Andy Griffith - Iconic TV Sheriff

Iconic TV Dad Andy Griffith passed away on July 3, 2012. He was 86.

From Wikipedia.

Andrew Samuel Griffith (June 1, 1926 – July 3, 2012) was an American actor, television producer, Grammy Award-winning Gospel singer and writer.

A Tony Award nominee for two roles, he gained prominence in director Elia Kazan's film A Face In The Crowd (1957) before he became known for his television roles.

He played the lead characters in the 1960–1968 situation comedy The Andy Griffith Show and the 1986–1995 legal drama Matlock.

Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina.

He was born on the same day and year as Marilyn Monroe.

Griffith grew up listening to music. His father instilled a sense of humour from old family stories.

As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama programme.

A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life.

Griffith looked up to Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught him to sing and play the trombone.

Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944.

Griffith was delighted when he was offered a role in The Lost Colony by Paul Green, a play still performed today on Roanoke Island.

He performed as a cast member of the play for several years, playing a variety of roles, until he finally landed the role of Sir Walter Raleigh, the namesake of North Carolina's capital.

He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's Carolina Play Makers.

He attended the University of North Carolina (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor of music in 1949.

After graduation, he taught Music and Drama for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina.

Griffith's early career was as a monologist, delivering long stories such as What it Was, Was Football, which is told from the point of view of a rural backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a football game.

Released as a single in 1953, the monologue was a hit for Griffith, reaching number nine on the charts in 1954.

Griffith starred in a one-hour teleplay version of No Time For Sergeants (1955).

The role earned him a Distinguished Supporting or Featured Dramatic Actor nomination at the 1956 Tony Awards.

Griffith later reprised his role for the film version (1958) of No Time For Sergeants.

The film also featured Don Knotts, marking the beginning of a life-long association between Griffith and Knotts.

No Time For Sergeants is considered the direct inspiration for the later television situation comedy Gomer Pyle USMC.

In 1957, Griffith made his film debut, A Face In The Crowd.

The film also starred Walter Matthau and Lee Remick (in her film debut).

It was directed by Elia Kazan.

In 1960, Griffith appeared as a county sheriff in Make Room For Daddy, starring Danny Thomas.

This served as a backdoor pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. Both shows were produced by Sheldon Leonard.

Beginning in 1960, Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS television network.

The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage.

The show co-starred Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's cousin.

The show also starred child actor Ron Howard (then known as Ronny Howard), who played Taylor's only child, Opie Taylor.

In 1986, Griffith played Ben Matlock in the legal drama Matlock.

Matlock was a country lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was known for his Southern drawl and for always winning his cases.

Griffith also made character appearances on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, The Mod Squad, Hawaii Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman, Fantasy Island and Dawson's Creek.

For most of the 1970s, Griffith starred in many television films including Pray For The Wildcats (1974) which marked his first villainous role.

Griffith appeared again as a villain in Savages (1974), a television film based on the novel Deathwatch (1972) by Robb White.

He won further acclaim for his role as a homicidal villain in the television film Murder In Coweta County (1983), co-starring music legend Johnny Cash as the sheriff.

He also proved to be a good character actor in television mini-series as Roots: The Next Generations (1979), Centennial (1978) and the Watergate scandal-inspired Washington: Behind Closed Doors (1977).

Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and in many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock.

Griffith made a surprise appearance as the ghost of Andy Taylor when Howard hosted Saturday Night Live in 1982.

Howard did not make any cameo appearances on Matlock, but his mother, Jean Speegle Howard, had a small role in one episode.

Howard attended the People's Choice Awards in 1987, where Griffith was honoured with a lifetime acheivement award.

Howard and Griffith kept in contact sharing news about family and personal activities, and Griffith still called Howard by his childhood nickname, Ronny.

In 2008, Griffith appeared with Howard in a video endorsement for Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Griffith married Barbara Bay Edwards in 1949. They split in 1972.

From 1973-1981 he was married to Greek actress Solica Cassuto.

In 1983 he married Cindi Knight.

Griffith received a Grammy Award for Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album for I Love To Tell The Story — 25 Timeless Hymns in 1997.

In 1999, Griffith was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall Of Fame.

In 2002, an 18km stretch of US Highway 52 that passes through Mount Airy was dedicated as the Andy Griffith Parkway.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal Of Freedom by President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005.

In 2007, he was inducted into the Christian Music Hall Of Fame And Museum.