Andy Griffith Biography
Andy (not Andrew) Samuel Griffith (born June 1, 1926) is an American actor, Grammy Award winning singer, writer and producer from Mount Airy, North Carolina. He is a genuine country boy who made sophisticated humor based on his own background.
He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a bachelor's degree in music in 1949. While at UNC, he was president of the UNC Men's Glee Club and was a member of the Alpha Rho Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, America's oldest fraternity for men in music. After graduation, he taught English at Goldsboro High School, Goldsboro, NC for a few years.
Griffith is best known as "Sheriff Andy Taylor" in the popular 1960s television series The Andy Griffith Show and in the title role in the television series Matlock, which ran from 1986 to 1995.
He is loved by many people all over the world, and notorious for having every episode of "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" have a hidden meaning behind them. He is one of the most famous television actors of the 20th Century, and one of the most loved, iconic figures in both music and television history.
Griffith started out in show business as something of a stand-up comedian, although a better description might be monologist. His first success was a 1953 live recording of "What it was, was football," a story about a country boy at his first football game delighting in the "big orange drinks" and the boys running up and down the "cow pasture" in "the awfulest fight I have ever seen in my life" and "these purty girls a-wearin' these little-bitty short dresses and a-dancin' around." Later that year, he recorded "Number One Street", telling the story of a rural family travelling to Florida on U.S. Route 1.
By 1954, he was on Broadway, starring in No Time for Sergeants, a play about a country boy in the Air Force, made into a film in 1959, in which he also starred, and which is considered the direct inspiration for Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C..
In 1957, Griffith starred in A Face in the Crowd. Again, he played a country boy, but this time the country boy was a terrifying sociopath, a drifter who became a television host and used his show as a gateway to political and personal power. With a cast including Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa and Lee Remick in her film debut, this now-classic film showcased Griffith's powerful talents as a dramatic actor and singer, often shouting blues numbers with almost frightening intensity, unlike the gentle folk and country tunes he later sang on The Andy Griffith Show. It also showed early on the power of television upon the masses. (Directed by Elia Kazan, written by Budd Schulberg, ostensibly based on the supposed offstage phoniness of Will Rogers and the controversial 1950s TV host Arthur Godfrey, the superbly prescient film was seldom run on television until the 1990s,) a mark of its ever-rising stature as an American classic of the 1950s. A 2005 DVD reissue came complete with a mini-documentary on the film with comments from Schulberg, Griffith, Franciosa and Neal.
The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968, became an instant hit with its American audience. Viewers immediately felt a connection with Taylor, his son Opie (Ron Howard), Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier), Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts), Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors), Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and the entire town of Mayberry.
He also starred in many television films such as The Strangers In 7A (1972), Winter Kill (1974) and Pray for the Wildcats (1974). In 1981 Griffith won an Emmy nomination for his role in the TV film Murder In Texas and in 1983 won further acclaim for his role as a homicidal villain in the TV film Murder In Coweta County, co-starring music legend Johnny Cash as the hero. During this period, Griffith also appeared in two big screen movies, both of which were flops at the box office. He co-starred with Jeff Bridges in the 1975 comedy Hearts of the West, and appeared alongside Tom Berenger as the villainous Colonel Ticonderoga in the 1985 movie Rustler's Rhapsody. He also had an appearance as the villain in the 1996 movie Spy Hard.
Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and on some episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Within recent years, he has recorded successful albums of classic Christian hymns, for Sparrow Records. In 1999 Andy was inducted into the Country Gospel Music Hall of Fame with fellow artists, Lulu Roman, Barbara Mandrell, David L Cook, Gary S. Paxton, Jimmy Snow, Loretta Lynn and Jodi Miller.