Thursday, July 5, 2012

In Memoriam: Andy Griffith 1926-2012

Comedian. Actor. Singer.  What It Was, Was Football. A Face in the Crowd. No Time for Sergeants. The Andy Griffith Show. Matlock.
"He was fantastic. There was a fantastic equilibrium between his love of laughter and jokes and funny stories and songs and all that, and then he could turn on a dime and be the utmost professional."

--Ron Howard

"Everybody was shouting. I told [Producer] Sheldon Leonard, 'I don't think I can take all this shouting.' Sheldon was a very wise man. He told me, 'Danny likes to shout, so we all shout. Once you have your own show, if you don't want to shout, you don't have to.' So I got my own show, we never shouted, and it worked out real well."

--Andy Griffith. The pilot for The Andy Griffith Show was filmed as an episode of
The Danny Thomas Show.

What it Was, Was Football (1953) This best-selling comedy record was Griffith's original claim to fame.

A Face in the Crowd (1957) With Patricia Neal


No Time for Sergeants (1958)  The short guy with the glasses is Nick Adams.


The Andy Griffith Show.  I'll admit co-star Don Knotts pretty much owns this scene, but former stand-up comedian Griffith sure makes a good straight man, doesn't he?




  1. That was one of the main problems with the Andy Griffith Show. Andy was a great comedian on his own but played straight man to the cast of odd characters in and around Mayberry. These folks felt like friends and Andy was the wise old uncle. I will miss him. Nice bio work here Kirk. I appreciate your attention to detail and including all of these wonderful clips.

    1. Thanks, Mike. You're right about Griffith being a great comedian on his own right (as well as a fine dramatic actor. If you haven't already, watch A FACE IN THE CROWD sometime.) I was a little pressed in time in trying to find clips. The one from NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS, as funny as it is, probably doesn't do justice to just how hilarious he was in that movie, playing a proto-Gomer Pyle-type character. As successful as Griffith was, I'm not sure he lived entirely up to his potential. At least not after 1960. But from every interview I've ever read or seen with him, it was his own decision to play straight man to Don Knotts. Maybe show business is such a chancy thing, that when one finds a niche, even if that niche is perhaps creatively confining, that's where one stays. Who am I to judge? THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW was great, but to get an idea as to just how talented Griffith was, you really have to look at the things he did before that. Thanks for commenting.

  2. I read something about him a few months ago and it mentioned his time on Broadway with his first wife and I think wanting to do more but now quite working out to what he and she wanted. Wish I knew where I read that.
    Anyways, I can't remember watching The Andy Griffith Show when I was younger, I think I watched it when I was somewhat older ? I thought it cute but I am sort of indifferent. If I watch it for what ever reason I enjoy it but I never felt the need to make sure to watch it.
    The same with I love Lucy I have friends that adore the show and I sit there grating my teeth in horror.
    I have seen Matlock and I like Murder She Wrote better.
    What shows I like Andy Griffith in was he did a series of TV movies about a small town Sheriff and it was in a set mountain town. Why I watched them the first time was they where filmed in the Lake Arrowhead area of San Beradino Mountains just a few hours out from LA and also where I lived in Laguna Beach. We would go up for a few days of skiing every winter and knew everywhere they filmed.
    Long story to say his sheriff was in the middle of the whole folk ah shuck of these two shows. I liked him better.

    I think he was a better actor than the public allowed him to be.
    We put labels on actors and then refuse to let them grow or change.

    cheers, parsnip

    1. Parsnip, your first paragraph forced me to do a bit of research. For a few years in the 1950s, Andy Griffith was both a movie star AND a star on Broadway. Neat trick if you can pull it off. Careerwise, his Waterloo was a 1958 film called ONIONHEAD. I've seen ONIONHEAD, and it's a so-so movie, though Griffith himself is good in it. Apparently, ONIONHEAD was such a flop that it more than anything else caused Griffith to seek out the security of a TV role. As we now know, Sheriff Andy Taylor was very secure role indeed.

      I don't grit my teeth at I LOVE LUCY. I save that for Lucille Ball's later series.

      MATLOCK was basically a southern version of PERRY MASON. The format was the same--lawyer, paralagal, and private eye--though Griffith was very different from Raymond Burr. I enjoyed his portrayal of Matlock, but never found any of the stories particularly interesting.

      I have seen some of those TV movies Griffith made in the 1970s. I think they were actually pilots for prospective series that the networks never purchased. Interesting seeing him play a small town sheriff with actual CRIME to solve.

      This blog covers popular culture quite a bit. For some reason, it's almost an obsession of mine. One of the things I like to do is point out the discrepancy that may exist between someone's success, reputation, and actual talent. You're right. Successful actors DO tend to get stereotyped. But most actors don't even make it that far. It's a tough profession.


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