Andy Griffith, actor was 86

andy-griffith-obit.jpgGriffith died Tuesday morning back home in Manteo, North Carolina. He received a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and in the 1955 earned a Tony acting nomination for "No Time for Sergeants" on Broadway. His first IMDb credit was a comedy appearance on TV's Steve Allen show in 1957. "The Andy Griffith Show," in which he played Sheriff Andy Taylor of mythical Mayberry opposite Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife, debuted in 1960 and ran on CBS for 249 episodes, until 1968. That was the show in which Ron Howard played Griffith's son Opie.

He was the star of "Matlock" on 181 episodes from 1986 to 1995.

From the New York Times obituary:

Andy Griffith was considerably more complex than Andy Taylor and his fellow denizens of Mayberry, although the show was based on his hometown, Mount Airy, N.C.

Beginning with the lead in Elia Kazan’s film “A Face in the Crowd” in 1957, the story of a roughhewn television personality who becomes a power-crazed megalomaniac, Mr. Griffith brought a canny authenticity to dark roles.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Mr. Griffith starred in no fewer than six movies with the words “murder” or “kill” in their titles. In 1983, in “Murder in Cowetta County” he played a chillingly wicked man who remains stone-cold even as he is being strapped into the electric chair.

Mr. Griffith’s fans may have imagined him as a happy bumpkin, but he enjoyed life in Hollywood and knew his way around a wine list. His career was controlled by a personal manager, Richard O. Linke, who forbade Mr. Griffith to solicit advice from anyone else, even his wife.

“If there is ever a question about something, I will do what he wants me to do,” Mr. Griffith said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 1970. “Had it not been for him, I would have gone down the toilet.”

Far from the relaxed, gregarious, drawling Andy Taylor, Mr. Griffith was a loner and a worrier. He once hit a door in anger, and for two episodes of the second season of “The Andy Griffith Show” he had a bandaged hand (explained on the show as an injury Sheriff Taylor sustained while apprehending criminals).

But the 35 million viewers of “The Andy Griffith Show” would have been reassured to learn that even at the peak of his popularity, Mr. Griffith drove a Ford station wagon and bought his suits off the rack. He said his favorite honor was having a 10-mile stretch of a North Carolina highway named after him in 2002. (That was before President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.)

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