Today one of my favorite actors of all time passed away. For most Americans, Andrew Samuel "Andy" Griffith will forever be known as the folksy small town Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina.
However, Andy's career was much more diverse than just his time as the Mayberry sheriff.
His career really took off in 1953 when his comedic monologue "What It Was, Was Football" was first delivered. Griffith told of this thing called football from the point of view of a rural backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on at a football game. Take a listen. It's hilarious.
I remember seeing Griffith in a replay of No Time for Sergeants on "The United States Steel Hour" on television a few years ago. This was not the film version (which was hilarious - especially when the toilets saluted and when Andy said "Somebody done brung their trumpet" when reveille was played) but a theatrical presentation with little background scenery (similar to Wilder's "Our Town"). This showcased Andy's acting ability. He acted on Broadway for a time as well.
Griffith was from Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the inspiration for the fictional Mayberry. Small town values and simple life surprisingly captured the nation for years as his television show, and subsequent spin-offs gained large followings.
There have been many stories written about Andy Griffith and his success in television, but also his desire to break away from the character known as Andy Taylor in other projects. He played good, moral characters in most of his films, but occasionally ventured to play the polar opposite of what the audience expected.
I remember watching the made-for-television movie Murder in Coweta County back in 1983. It co-starred Griffith and Johnny Cash. In a creative switch on typecasting, Cash played the heroic sheriff and Griffith the murderous villain. I was a teenager, but this film shocked me.
Andy Griffith was much more than just a comedic actor. He was versatile and creative as seen in his numerous roles and productions throughout the years.
I even liked him in series that were less than successful. One of my favorites was 1979's "Salvage I." What? You don't remember that show. It was great. Andy was the owner of the Jettison Scrap and Salvage Company who built his own rocket to go to the moon. It was a big hit at first, but sadly only lasted about 20 episodes. Still, it was no TAGS.
Andy Griffith was a very talented man, an actor, director, writer and singer. He will forever be tied to his most famous character. I know he was much more than one character, but I do appreciate his creation of the Sheriff from Mayberry.
I know TAGS was just a show, but it was a show that my parents never had to fret me watching as a child. It was a show that was funny, especially during the black and white era, and fun. I don't remember ever being offended by the subject matter. It was something that could be watched with multiple generations. In truth, the humor in the episodes are timeless.
Yeah, I'll miss that.
I know we still have reruns and DVDs of episodes.
There, however, is a sadness in knowing the actors and actresses on the screen are no longer with us. Our senior adults are planning to go to Mt. Airy, North Carolina this fall for the annual "Mayberry Days." Every year a few actors from the show appear. In truth, these are mostly character actors who played small roles, but are known to die hard fans. I may have to go to "Mayberry" this year. It looks like fun. Maybe I'll go to the Snappy Lunch and get a tomato sandwich in honor of Andy. If I have time, maybe I'll get a haircut at Floyd's.