Tuesday, July 3, 2012
Andy Griffith, 1926 – 2012
Nor did you want to.
Recently, I started watching it again with my wife and youngest daughter. In just a few short months, it has become beloved to both of them, something that thrills me to no end. But as an adult I have discovered that the show is even better than I remembered with Andy mentoring the whole town, displaying acts of kindness and patience and tolerance that almost seem alien today. And it worked because of the supremely talented actor playing sheriff Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith.
What an extraordinary man. A gifted actor, comedian and singer, Andy Griffith remains a marvel for his talent alone but even more marvelous was his generosity as an actor. When it became clear that Barney Fife, portrayed brilliantly by Don Knotts, was becoming the center of the show, by all accounts, Griffith was fine with it and more than happy to tone down the country boy act that had been intended to be the center and let Barney take over.
When Howard McNear (Floyd the Barber) had a stroke, Griffith insisted he stay on the show. If he couldn't walk they'd just film him sitting or lean him against a wall as if he was relaxing. In fact, Andy insisted on a lot of cast members, from Hal Smith (Otis, the town drunk) to Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle), getting the spotlight as often as they could with his character being the straight man and guiding force.
Outside of the television show Griffith proved a great actor with many performances, from A Face in the Crowd theatrically to Winter Kill on television. He even had a second popular show with Matlock in the eighties and nineties.
I'll miss knowing Andy Griffith is on this planet with me, even if I never had contact with him, but I take comfort knowing I can keep enjoying his talents and charms with The Andy Griffith Show, one of the best shows of the sixties, populated by one of the best casts and led by one of the best actors and human beings you're ever likely to know. Rest in Peace, Andy.