What we love about Andy Griffith
July 3rd, 2012
03:20 PM ET

What we love about Andy Griffith

It's been said that when he was younger, Andy Griffith had aspirations to become an opera singer, but fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" are undoubtedly happy that he wound up pursuing acting.

The actor, who died at 86 on Tuesday, is most beloved for his portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the timeless '60s favorite "The Andy Griffith Show," as well as for his role as defense attorney Ben Matlock on the late '80s-mid '90s series "Matlock."

1. The example he set:

"The Andy Griffith Show," with its unforgettable theme song, gave the actor a landmark role in Sheriff Taylor. The widowed father to a young Ron Howard's Opie, Griffith's portrayal of the Sheriff, who oversaw Mayberry, North Carolina, still resonates decades later.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fUERL6ITsAE&w=420&h=315%5D

Time magazine's TV critic James Poniewozik nominates the show, which ran from 1960-1968, as one of the cultural touchstones that shaped America.

"This gentle small-town comedy gave us Mayberry's quirks without ridiculing or patronizing them," Poniewozik writes. "And Griffith's Sheriff Taylor, who'd rather wield a wry comment than a gun, was a weekly example of Americans talking through their problems. "

It also served as an example for those watching, a thought we don't often associate with TV programs today.

CNN.com commenter SnackMonster said, "I never knew my real parents when I grew up, but the home I was in as a kid had the Andy Griffith show on TV almost every day. Thanks Mr. Griffith for providing a role model for me when I needed one. You made a huge difference in my life."

Concurred commenter DirtSense, "Growing up, I didn't have a Dad. I had to look for 'dads' on TV to show me how to be. Andy Griffith was & still is one of my role models. Thank you for sharing your talent and wisdom."

2. His love for North Carolina:

Griffith was a North Carolinian through-and-through, having been raised in Mount Airy and attending college at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. North Carolina's Gov. Bev Perdue told CNN in a statement that Griffith's birthplace was evident in his work.

"Throughout his career, he represented everything that was good about North Carolina: a small town boy and UNC graduate who took a light-hearted approach to some of the attributes he grew up with and turned them into a spectacularly successful career," Gov. Perdue said. "And regardless of where that career took him, he always came back to North Carolina and spent his final years here. In an increasingly complicated world, we all yearn for the days of Mayberry. We all will miss Andy, and I will dearly miss my friend."

Added CNN.com commenter shoyaryt, "Andy Griffith IS North Carolina... there are a lot of things we, in NC, pride ourselves with. Our pine covered mountains, our BBQ and basketball. But we pride ourselves most with our favorite neighbor, NC's oldest and dearest friend; Andy Griffith."

3. "Matlock" :

There was also, of course, his role as the argumentative defense attorney Ben Matlock.

The Virginian-Pilot suggested in a 2008 profile of the actor that "if you want the TV comparison, [Griffith is] closer to the analytical braininess of Ben Matlock than he is to the country wisdom of Andy Taylor."

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEDvpFT18jY&w=420&h=315%5D

4. His versatility:

But even those two iconic shows don't begin to crack the surface of Griffith's contributions, which is the largest reason we adore Griffith - his talent played well from the stage to the screen.

He rose to fame and proved his wit with this 1953 comedic monologue, "What It Was, Was Football." The monologue sold more than 800,000 copies and, like a lot of Griffith's work, is as funny today as it was 59 years ago.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oNxLxTZHKM8&w=420&h=315%5D

In addition to his Tony-nominated work on Broadway, Griffith made his mark in 1957's "A Face in the Crowd" as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, a country boy with an appetite for power who becomes a media sensation.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rx2_TqpPH4w&w=420&h=315%5D

CNN.com commenter dgoren found called Griffith's work in "Face in the Crowd" "amazing, and probably his best single performance. Think how few actors can break the stereotype that can trap them from a famous role. Andy did it with Matlock just like Buddy Ebsen, but few can. That's a testament to his tremendous talent. He could play a real 'meanie' when the role called for it. Extremely versatile."

Added CNN.com commenter HotHeatWave, "The whole cast was good. He brought the best out in all of them."

5. His legacy:

With all of that, plus a Grammy-winning album to his name with "I Love To Tell The Story — 25 Timeless Hymns," it's no wonder so many concur with country singer Brad Paisley, who told CNN in a statement that few people will have the impact that Griffith had.

“An actor who never looked like he was acting, a moral compass who saved as many souls as most preachers, and an entertainer who put smiles on more faces than almost anyone; this was as successful a life as is pretty much possible," Paisley said. "Andy Griffith made the world a better place, and I was so proud to call him a friend.”

Here's a round-up of other celebrity reactions from around the Web - do share your memories of Griffith's work in the comments below:

Filed under: Celebrities • television

soundoff (65 Responses)
  1. mary

    My pick for # 1 television dad. Still makes me happy when I hear the theme song. My daughter loves watching all the episodes with me especially the black and white reruns with Barney. Love when Barney and Andy sing The Little Brown Church in the Vale. Favorite episode "Mr. McBeevy"! Thank you Mr. Griffith for the sweetest memories of childhood.
    Rest in Peace.

    July 9, 2012 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Scott

    As an entrepreneur, I created an Andy Griffith Show version of Monopoly about 5 years ago. It is still in print and you can find it on-line to purchase.

    Just google "Mayberry-Opoly"

    It was approved by Andy, of which I am proud.

    If you get a chance spread the word to the fans about the game.

    July 8, 2012 at 9:27 am | Report abuse |
  3. The Eleven MostSilly personal finance Tricks... And Approaches To Use them

    I'll immediately clutch your rss as I can not find your email subscription hyperlink or newsletter service. Do you've any? Please permit me understand in order that I may just subscribe. Thanks.

    July 8, 2012 at 6:10 am | Report abuse |
  4. Syd

    Rest in Peace Andy Griffith. Your a big lost in the industry. Someone made a memorial page on his behalf on Evertalk. https://apps.facebook.com/evertalk

    July 7, 2012 at 11:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hot Carl

    I remember when John Lennon died. I kept crying, "Why? Why? Why couldn't it have been Ringo?"

    July 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Andy A

    Grew up with this wonderful show at age 57 now...have all the DVDs and still want to experience it just one more time....it's great to see other folks who "get it"...thank you Andy for all the peace and love you shared....watching the show still feels like medicine for my soul.... God bless you Mr. Griffith

    July 5, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. PhilG.

    Always a professional and never ashamed of who he was or where he came from,Andy Griffith was a one of a kind actor.

    His down home way worked itself into every role he ever played.

    And with the Andy Griffith show,backed up by other fantastic actors he took us all to a place we knew really did exist in different ways for all of us.

    You can see that place in every replay of the Andy Griffith show on tv.

    It's that place in everyone's heart where you are welcome and you are not alone.

    What a person-you will be missed Andy and thanks for letting us come along for the ride.

    It was a great one.

    July 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. palintwit

    Why not a remake? Todd Palin can star in a new show as the sheriff of Wasilla, Alaska. His bumbling wife Sarah can co-star as the trailer park manager.

    July 5, 2012 at 10:24 am | Report abuse |
  9. Jack

    Hello folks. Everyone is invited to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    July 5, 2012 at 10:17 am | Report abuse |
  10. Hahaha

    Thank you for hours of great entertainment:-)

    July 5, 2012 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Marilyn

    Simply stating, I purely loved the man. He said he played it straight on The Andy Griffith Show so Don Knotts could shine but let me tell you he could make me laugh anyway. My heart is truly hurting and even though we didn't see him much anymore it was just comforting to me that he was out there somewhere. Now, he is on the front porch once again with Aunt Bee and Barney. The funny thing is, he said himself he was in real life more like his character in "The Waitress" than Andy Taylor......still love you anyway.

    July 5, 2012 at 8:43 am | Report abuse |
  12. Timmy Lamse

    I used to watch The Andy Griffith Show because it was a peaceful show with good moral plots and no bad language. For the past couple of years I've been watching Matlock nearly every morning. Both of his shows had good writers. He took a stand that wasn't popular in the acting community. Good morals and fine values were the norm and the standard on his shows. Ron Howard was truly blessed to spend his early years under Andy's values.
    From what I've been reading about his personal life, he walked the talk. His life in front of an audience and a camera, was just as moral as he lived off the stage. He wasn't afraid to let people know that he loved the Lord. I especially like that part of his life. My condolences to his family.and friends.

    July 5, 2012 at 2:42 am | Report abuse |
  13. Kayellen Denise

    I cried inside when Andy Griffith died
    He was the Dad I never had
    Watching him on TV
    Got me through the pain of a broken family
    Yes, I cried inside when Andy Griffith died

    July 4, 2012 at 10:31 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Alycia Schulz

    What an amazing persosn, and inspiration. The Andy Griffith Show was my childhood favorite, and it gives inspiration to me as of this day. God Bless him for the gift he was given and shared, and may his family find peace at this time. My prayers go to the family.

    July 4, 2012 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. .•|•.

    Always has been, always will be, 1 of the good guys. Another "piece of childhood" gone.

    July 4, 2012 at 4:54 pm | Report abuse |
  16. Sherri

    I knew this day would come, but dreaded it anyway. I will miss Andy. What I loved about him, in the Andy Griffith show was that he always did the right thing. He was always a good example to the townspeople, to his son etc. He was a wonderful single-dad, before that term was popular. He knew what was best for his son and did it. Not with physical punishment, but by example and discipline. You knew he loved his family. My thoughts to his family, who actually KNEW him, in a way the rest of us can only envy.

    July 4, 2012 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  17. Ruth A Mayer-Farella

    Andy Griffith is great and very good show. He wull miss friends and everything. I will talk to Jesus Christ (God) and tell him how wonderful full of life. May God Bless Him. Amen.

    July 4, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Stewies Girl


    July 4, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  19. Stewies Girl

    Although I didn't know Mr. Griffith I felt he was one of those rare men, one w/ a generous heart and unshakable faith. A long and restful sleep to you, Matlock. "Life is real, life is earnest and death is not its goal"

    July 4, 2012 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  20. Betsy

    I've had a lifelong crush on Andy. I am the same age as Ron Howard, and I think it started when I decided that me & Opie would get married some day. Making Andy my Pa too. Best thing ever on TV, even today. Such awesome life lessons on each episode! Entire generations learned from you, Andy. THANK YOU!!!

    July 4, 2012 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Marilyn

      Me, too.......on both counts. We literally grew up with Ron Howard so I always considered him my "brother."

      July 5, 2012 at 9:31 am | Report abuse |
  21. regina

    Love that show
    R i p love

    July 4, 2012 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
  22. regina

    Love that show

    July 4, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
  23. mary valdez

    I too grow up with Mr Andy G. My kids love him too. R.I.P. We'll miss you very much. I called him my Grandpa. May God comfort his family at this time of pain and sorrow. <3

    July 4, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Teresa

    Rip andy. I grew up watching andy griffith show and matlock.you will be missed. Sorry no public memorial. Your family respected your wishes. May god be with them in their time off grieving.

    July 4, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
  25. USA

    Ron Howard said it best. Andy will be greatly missed. Andy, Aunt Bea, Opie, Barney, Gomer, Goober, sorry I can't remember the town drunk that would lock HIMSELF in jail. He was so cool. What a cool Town to live in. I know things have to move forward. But times were simple back then. Always enjoyed anything Andy was in. REST IN PEACE ANDY.

    July 4, 2012 at 12:51 pm | Report abuse |
  26. brian

    Barney and Andy have taken their show else were.

    July 4, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  27. larryahernandez

    Andy represented the very best of America, it was evident everytime as Sheriff Taylor or in real life devotion to his
    causes. It sadden me to hear a few years ago that he had 'death threats' because of his support for health reform.
    These thugs must have never seen his show or heard his gospel singing, they were attacking a good positve Christan
    American that only championed the good that has exisited or could exist in our great country, for that I am truly

    July 4, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Johnny E.

    Thanks Andy and Company from me and an America where thousands of little "Mayberry's" still happen everyday. I began watching The Andy Griffith Show when I was just beginning. (this life) When I was in 1st grade or so and my dad was so much like Andy, and I was just like Opie. I learned from the show that no matter what this could still truly be a wonderful world. Now, 50 years later that same faith and hope are rekindled in me every time I watch an episode....... Encore....Encore...Encore!!

    July 4, 2012 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  29. Jeff

    Andy Griffith RIP !!! Heaven is a better place now. You were the best medicine for a downed spirit. I will miss you as will everyone.

    July 4, 2012 at 10:31 am | Report abuse |
    • God

      Now? Really? Now? Like it wasn't before? Why did you even bother writing, fool? And FYI, Andy's in hell.

      July 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  30. Jeff

    Andy Griffith, RIP. Heaven is a better place now and I'm sure Andy is a welcomed addition. Whenever I feel down, or upset, or just need an emotional lift, I tune into The Andy Griffith show, and I ALWAYS feel better. He still lifts up my spirits today. He is better for lifting you up when your down, then any drug out there. I will miss you.

    July 4, 2012 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  31. Dorothy h.

    I am saddened by Andy Griffin's passing. Always watched and loved The Andy Griffith Show and still catch reruns once in a while. It's sad our kids and grandkids don't have shows like this to watch. The lessons learned from this show were so great.

    July 4, 2012 at 10:25 am | Report abuse |
  32. Roy Harper

    The body of Andy Griffith has been taken from us who loved him and his work. The spirit of Andy Griffith will never be taken from those of us who loved him and his work. The Andy Griffith Show has proven that wholesome, family-oriented entertainment can stand the test of time. Thank you to a great man, great actor and great American.

    July 4, 2012 at 10:08 am | Report abuse |
  33. Tom F.

    RIP, Andy Griffth, you are & were a 'keeper'! You will be missed

    July 4, 2012 at 8:47 am | Report abuse |
  34. linda booth

    My long time entertainer friend,Andy Griffith,is now resting with the Lord.Most deserving for a man of his character both on and off stage.I will miss him. Whenever I reminisce about good times when life was easy going and respectable,I pull out my Andy Griffith tapes.These moments are quite frequent in these cruel,devious times. My condolences to his family. LBooth

    July 4, 2012 at 1:11 am | Report abuse |
  35. Bobby Lankford

    I always enjoyed watching The Andy Griffith Show all the time both during the CBS run, and the reruns that were on Superstation WTBS 17 Altanta for years. Andy was great in the part of Andy Taylor and later the part of Ben Matlock in Matlock. Everybody liked Andy Griffith,my family and I included ,and he will be missed by fans all over the world.

    July 4, 2012 at 12:48 am | Report abuse |
  36. michael

    twitter hastag #favoriteandygriffithline give me yours!

    July 3, 2012 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Aura

    ~R.I.P~ Andy.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Report abuse |
  38. David K

    What a shock this morning when I heard the my all-time favorite actor, Mr. Andy Griffith had passed away. I'm 61 years old and have grown up watching and still do, the Andy Griffith show. I have the DVD's and have watch these many times. My children use to laugh when I would quote the lines before they were said. How many shows can we say we can do this to? I doubt too many, the Andy Griffith show was special. It taught us lessons, maybe when we didn't even know it was. The show or Mr. Griffith taught us how to be a good father, nephew, and friend. He taught us how to enjoy life and how to turn what could have been a bad situation into one where a person wasn't embrassed. He taught us how to enjoy the simple things.

    Mr. Griffith loved music, and he introduced a lot of us to the mountain music with the Darlings and some other characters on the show. Remember when a man came to town to record local mountian music, real musicians played and sang. He had a wonderful voice and recorded some beautiful records.

    I have been to Mt. Airly, his home town and suggest anyone who is a fan of his and the show, to try to make it there some day. Thank you Mr. Griffith for making such an inpact on my life and for all the lessons and laugh. God bless you and God bless your family. Our love to you Sir.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • mark

      Very nice post, David K. I, too, loved the Andy Griffith show. We as a a nation, have lost at treasure.

      July 4, 2012 at 12:56 am | Report abuse |
  39. Sandy J

    I am 61 years old. I remember the very first time Andy came into my life. His show was a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show. It never gets old. I taped it on my DVR last night. Each rerun is like a refreshing drink of crystal clear water that takes me back to true entertainment that simply makes me feel good. I am sure others will disagree but today's "entertainment" does the opposite. I really hope that our children and grandchildren have the opportunity and encouragement to watch reruns of this caliber.....for their sakes and their souls. Thank you Andy. Thank you TV Land.

    July 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Sokman

    Good actor, Great American

    July 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm | Report abuse |
  41. MissingRonnieR

    On days like today you realize how meaningless most politicians are. Today this generation has lost a true friend. Andy Griffith was a star and then a legend that never let America down. He was your dad and your granddad at their best. There is no one else like him and that is a shame. Hero’s do not always play sport, have power, or possess women. Some times they are honest, and simple people who regardless of success or fame remain the kind and wholesome people they started out as. God speed Andy Griffith, son of Carolina and common man

    July 3, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Leslie L

    He made me laugh in No Time for Sergeants, he scared me whenever he played the bad guy (which he did once or twice in the 1970's) he seemed like an idealized version of my Dad when he played Andy Taylor and today he made me cry. God bless you, Mr. Griffith. I'm so glad you were here.

    July 3, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  43. JIM S

    Grew up with Andy, Barney Aunt Bee ,Oppie .Gomer and the rest of the gang after that it was Matlock I'm sure we will all miss andy . Hope to meet again when the role is called up yonder RIP

    July 3, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  44. sandy

    hHE WAS A



    July 3, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  45. Janna

    we also loved that he didn't mind waiting on a woman rest in peace good sir you are missed.

    July 3, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Jack

    Hello. Everyone is welcome to visit – thestarofkaduri.com

    July 3, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
  47. Dwight H.

    Today we lost one of our best friends even though most of us never got the pleasure of meeting Andy Griffith. For 50+ years he has filled our homes with love and laughter. We will miss you Andy, but knowing you are in heaven means I will finally get to meet you someday.

    May the LORD bless and comfort your family in this difficult time.

    July 3, 2012 at 6:06 pm | Report abuse |

    Absolutely Loved Him !!! R.I .P Mr. Griffith !!!!

    July 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
  49. Barbara

    This show comes from such a more nnocent era that seems so long ago now. We could use more shows with values like this these days. I still watch the reruns to this day as it beats what is on the television these days. My hope is that there is a great reunion of actors in Heaven and that they know what they mean to all of us and how they are so beloved.

    July 3, 2012 at 5:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Norasusan

      Barbara, you are right. I don't watch much tv anymore because of the lack of morality and values portrayed. Andy was gentleman on screen and most important, off screen. God has welcomed this fine man into Heaven.

      July 4, 2012 at 6:08 am | Report abuse |
  50. Jody

    One of the things that I loved about "Andy Taylor" was everytime "Barney" made himself to look like a fool, Andy would always fixed the situation so that Barney would look like a hero. There was a line from the series which Baraney said Andy told him. "When you're in law enforcement and dealing with people, it's best not to always go by the book, but by the heart". I do believe that was Andy Griffith character in real life.

    July 3, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  51. Mark L.

    Very, very sad news !! Another LEGEND gone !! My deepest, utmost heartfelt condolences go out to the entire family of Andy Griffith, may he forever rest in everlasting, heavenly peace. It seems, quite frankly, all of the legends from years past are practically all gone. Television today is NOT what it used to be. I grew up watching the Andy Griffith Show with Don Knotts, Ronnie Howard, etc. Television was so refreshingly innocent back in the good old days, and today, this so-called form of entertainment has turned into nothing more than TRASH !!!!

    July 3, 2012 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |

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