Andy Griffith: Actor, Musician, Comic
Andy and Don Knotts
Andy Samuel Griffith was born June 1, 1926 and died of a heart attack on July 3, 2012. In that time he had accomplishments as an actor, teacher, Television producer, gospel singer, and writer.
He was born in Mount Airy, N.C. He was drawn to music, was shy but learned to make his other students laugh. In high school he developed an interest in the arts and the school’s drama program. Although he was raised Baptist the greatest influence in high school was from a minister of the Moravian Church who nurtured his talent in music. He later earned a Bachelor of Music degree in 1949. He taught music at his old high school after graduation.
He is mostly remembered for his comedy, which was sometimes brilliant. Unfortunately, we often see the comic and miss the serious side of artist. Mark Twain was ignored by critics for a long time because he was a “humorist.” The same, I think is true of Andy Griffith. I have met people who think it strange that he was once a gospel singer. They don’t realize there can be a serious side to a man known aas a comic.
Andy Griffith: A Few of My Personal Choices
Although Griffith has many accomplishments and I have not heard or seen all of them, he has been one of my favorite performers since my high school years in the 1950’s. For most people I talk to about him, they immediately talk about Andy and Don Knotts in the various reincarnations of “Mayberry.” That was a good show but not one of my favorites.
When I was young, Danny Thomas was way up there as one of my favorite comedians. The show with Griffith as a small town sheriff really started with a pilot film which was an episode of Danny Thomas’s show, “Make Room for Daddy.” In this episode Thomas plays the city slicker and Griffith plays the country cop. It was somewhat classic comedy. Both men were talented comedians. As they say, the rest is history. It was 1960 when the pilot aired and won the hearts of a wide audience. Re-runs of the show are still being shown.
Don Knotts and Ron Howard
Danny Thomas introduced the show and the fictional town of Mayberry but the talents of Ron Howard and Don Knotts are what helped the long running series be so popular. Knotts, according to Wikipedia, received Emmy awards for his comedy performances but Griffith was never nominated for one during the entire run of the show 1960-1968.
What it Was, Was Football
I think one of the things I liked about Griffith in the early years was his ability to act, as I believe Mark Twain would have described it, as an inspired idiot. That exactly describes his act on the 1954 comedy record: What it Was, Was Football. In this monologue, which he did in 1953, he plays the part of a rural character who accidental gets into a football stadium and is trying to understand what is going on. Maybe I have always liked this sketch because I am not a sports fan and not sure if I understand the whys and wherefores of the sport. As a matter of fact, on my first newspaper job I was assigned to cover sports, as well as to write and edit the sports page. The news editor that I worked with always told me to just think about Andy Griffith if I got stumped. Griffith was, indeed, inspired. However, talking to the coaches and reading the score book did more for me reporting the games.
Not everyone realizes that Griffith did this kind of comedy.
No Time for Sergeants
In our high school and college years I went “to the lake” which was “up North” as they say in Minnesota. One of my friends had access to a family cabin which he later inherited. On one occasion the car belonging to another friend broke down. If I recall correctly, I think it broke an axle. Anyhow, we decided to take a Greyhound bus back to the cities. The bus station was in a small town café so we ordered food to eat and I bought a copy of a magazine which happened to have the story (magazines printed fiction in those days) of a story called No Time For Sergeants. It was a humorous story about some recruits in the military. Sort of like Beetle Baily now. I really liked the story and later found it was made into a movie. Andy Griffith played the main role and again he was an inspired idiot. I have always thought that the Gomer Pyle TV showed was based on it.
Danny Thomas and Andy Griffith
In my college years 1958-1962 I decided I would gear my writing to the mystery story. Like many students today, I did not go straight through college so it took me six years to get a degree. During that time the Perry Mason mystery series became very popular. That might have been what made me interested in mysteries. Well, Andy Griffith must have liked it too because he apparently modeled his own show after Perry Mason and called it Matlock. However, he may have followed the formula for plots but he gave his own spin to it. He added some comedy and some music. He is good at both.
Andy Griffith had several other accomplishments. One of these was a Science fiction TV show called Salvage 1. This show I liked very much. It ran for 16 episodes in 1979. Twenty had been produced. Interestingly Isaac Asimov, a noted science fiction writer was an advisor for the show. Andy Griffith played the part of Harry Broderick who owned a salvage business and wanted to recover materiel’s that had been left on the moon during the Apollo missions. It had good stories and also much of the Andy Griffith style humor.
He had a variety of other accomplishments.
- He starred in the movie A Face in the Crowd in 1957
- Singing and recording
- School teacher teaching music and drama at Goldsboro High School.
- He also made appearances on Playhouse 90, gomer Pyle, Go Ask Alice and several other shows.
Andy Griffith had an extremely accomplished career that included teaching, acting, humor, music, and movies. Comedy records and television shows. He was famously associated with Danny Thomas, Don Knotts, Dick Van Dyke, Ron Howard and other acting and comedy people.
Some information in this article came from Wikipedia.
Favorite Andy Griffith role
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© 2014 Don A. Hoglund
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