Andy Griffith Show
The Andy Griffith Show
Say the name Andy Griffith and for those of us who grew up in the 60's... A slow smile will most likely find its way across our faces as a 'whistling theme song' replays itself out of the recesses of our minds.
The storyline of The Andy Griffith Show was centered around a single father and Sheriff raising his son, with the help of Aunt Bee. The setting was in a quaint little town where fishin’ holes, pies, ice cream socials, and rock-hard family values reigned. The show was aired during a decade that grew progressively more turbulent.
Andy starred for eight years as Andy Taylor, the charming, sensitive and very patient Sheriff of the make-believe Southern town of Mayberry. The place he created, Mayberry USA, was a town where all blunders were soon forgiven and where friendships endured through it all. Andy's flawless character, charm, common sense and wisdom won the heart of many a lady both on and offscreen.
The series was filled with quirky characters who felt like family to all of us who watched them weekly. Craig Fincannon, head of a casting agency in Wilmington said, "What made the Andy Griffith Show' work was Andy Griffith himself - the fact that he was of this dirt and had such deep respect for the people and places of his childhood."
Whistle Theme Song has Words - Sung by Andy
Andy's partner Barney (Don Knotts) was the antithesis of Andy. Barney was naïve by nature and shot his mouth off whenever his, out-of-control anxiety took over.
He was a mess! He continually strove to prove, to all the world, what a really tough guy deputy he was. In the eyes of Barney's alter-ego, he was scared of nothin' and nobody.
Oftentimes Barney would totally bungle it as he tried to prove himself with a quick draw but instead mistakenly pull the trigger coming inches from shooting his foot off. At times like this, Sheriff Taylor would confiscate Barney's gun, leaving Barney in a head hanging miserable state.
It was hilarious to watch Barney time and time again escalate quickly out of control. Inwardly he was desperately trying to prove how capable he was - but his actions revealed the truth. The more desperate he was to prove himself the more he sputtered unintelligible words as his face contorted in frustration. Yes, Barney tried his best to muster up an aura of a powerful man, but he was, in fact, the furthest thing from it. Everyone seemed to know this except for Barney himself. Barney's bumbling antics never failed to send our family into a fit of hardy, good-natured laughter.
There was a 'dance' that continued between Andy and Barney throughout the series. A dance we came to love. As an example, let me share one of Barney's quirky rants and Andy's typical response.
Barney is in full rant mode, anxiety fully kicked in, He opens his mouth and speaks contemptuously, "What are the state police gonna think when they get here and find we got an empty jail? They're gonna think this is just a hick town where nothing ever happens!" "Well, now," Taylor says calmly, "you got to admit that's about the size of it."
In real life, Andy knew Don Knotts to be very funny and so he developed his character into an award-winning star. Sheriff Taylor continually played into the twitchy, bug-eyed Deputy Fife and oh how he loved to get him going just for the sport of it. The result for Don Knotts was five supporting-actor Emmys.
In a recent interview, Don Knotts' widow, Francey Yarborough Knotts said, "Don and I loved Andy very much, Andy and Don had a great friendship and a great creative partnership. Throughout their lives, they continued to have fun together and discuss the art of comedy and acting."
Remember good ole Gomer Pyle (Jim Nabors) the simple-minded gas station attendant in Mayberry?
Although it's not very nice to say, the description that pops in my mind when I think of Gomer is "Dumber than a rock." He made us all laugh with his clueless and off the wall comments.
Have you ever heard Gomer sing? It is so conflicting for me to watch the character of Gomer Pyle singing with his gorgeous melodic and gifted voice.
If you have never heard Gomer sing, you are in for a treat. I hope you'll take a while and sit a spell to watch the YouTube of Gomer (Jim Nabors) singing Over Yonder.
Opie and Andy
Andy's son Opie played by Ron Howard, was an All-American, innocent redheaded boy who learned about manhood and life through his Dad and Aunt Bee. Theirs was a home filled with love and lessons to be learned.
It is during the very first episode, we learn that Opie has been taught to pray and to believe in God.
In one of the scenes, Opie is saying his prayers at bedtime while Aunt Bee listens in from the hallway. Opie's prayer: "God Bless my Pa, my bird Dickey and my dog Gulliver and my lizard, also wherever it is he ran away to, and Barney Fife and my white mouse and Jerry, Tommy and Billy and my snake. Amen. I forgot somebody very important. God Bless, Rose, even though she ran off and got married." Quote from Show
As Opie grew up both physically and professionally, he knew he had been shaped and influenced by a great man. Ron Howard thought of Andy as a favorite uncle who valued his opinion and treated him well.
Here are some of the Memories that Ron Howard shares about lessons he learned from Andy Griffith:
Excerpts from Los Angeles Times
"My allegiance to the show is so firm that I often use it as a barometer of character when making new acquaintances. If I meet someone who does not like “The Andy Griffith Show,” they immediately become somewhat suspect in my mind. How could anyone not like it?"
"With Andy in charge, he taught us all what we seem to have forgotten over the years; that every living being on this planet has something to offer; something to teach us if we will just listen to them. More than anything, Andy taught us tolerance."
"Respect. At every turn, he demonstrated his honest respect for people and he never seemed to expect theirs in return, but wanted to earn it."
"I was fortunate to witness and even participate in thousands of minutely detailed creative problem-solving interactions with Andy always tirelessly engaged."
"He proved hour by hour, episode by episode that creativity and neurotic angst were in fact not inexorably linked. He led by example and we demonstrated that a cast and company could play practical jokes on one another, laugh 'till they cried and still get 12 pages of the script shot every day while producing a No. 1-rated show."
"And, as I look back today, knowing that Andy's vision yielded a show that still airs daily all over the country and holds an absolutely unique place in the annals of its medium, I'm reminded of another lesson taught by example. Do all that, and don't forget to have as many laughs as you can along the way."
"He taught me a great deal through the examples he set and the approach to our work on the set. I learned about comedic timing, paying off characters in the third act of a storyline, and the equal values of both focused rehearsal and, at particular moments, of total chaotic spontaneity."
"I saw him lobby against jokes that were admittedly funny, but were at the expense of, and undercut the long-term reliability of a character."
Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) was Sheriff Andy Taylor's Aunt and the great aunt to his son Opie Taylor. This robust woman was LOVE amplified a million times. Her smile could warm the hardest of hearts.
Aunt Bee moved to Mayberry after Andy's housekeeper Rose, married and moved away. Aunt Bee filled the role of a grandmother for Opie. She also felt she filled the role of 'Mother' to Andy but don't anyone let that leak.
Aunt Bee was well known in Mayberry for her down-home country cooking. In the first episode, she serves up a platter of country fried chicken that set Andy's taste buds singing. After that, she was always associated with wholesome, home-cooked meals. She was seen bringing meals to the community or church events. She also brought picnic baskets of food to Andy in Mayberry's tiny jail and to Barney and the inmates too. Aunt Bea was famous for her pie's and oh how Andy loved pie.
Aunt Bee is a teetotaler. In an episode when a traveling salesman comes to Mayberry peddling patent medicine, Andy shares with Barney that Aunt Bee is avidly against alcohol due to her brother's trouble with the bottle. In the same episode, Bee plays the piano and speaks of her baptism. Bee was a member of the town choir and scenes were shot of her singing in the local church.
Aunt Bee is a woman who anyone would wish to be their Aunt. She loved with all of her heart, yet did not hesitate to give you an ear-bending talkin' to if you needed it.
Losing a Legend
Legendary television actor Andy Griffith, who made a name for himself with his self-titled comedy "The Andy Griffith Show" and, later on, the long-running series “Matlock,” died at the age of 86. Griffith was rushed to a North Carolina hospital by an EMS team after they were called to his home on a Tuesday morning. Griffith died about 7 a.m., at his coastal home in Manteo, North Carolina.
Griffith was born on June 1, 1926. As a kid, he sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. Later he studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and for a time contemplated a career in the ministry. Instead, he eventually got a job teaching high school music in Goldsboro.
He and his first wife, Barbara Edwards, had two children: Sam, who died in 1996, and Dixie. His second wife was Solica Cassuto. Both marriages ended in divorce. He married third wife Cindi Knight Griffith in 1983.
Griffith suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause sudden paralysis. He suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2000.
He was the country boy a country came to love. He was a widowed father who offered gentle guidance to son Opie, who grew up to become the Oscar-winning director of "A Beautiful Mind."
Andy and its star were a calming, home-spun refuge from the social and political struggles raging outside the fictional world of Mayberry. The airing of the Andy Griffith show came in the midst of Vietnam, the sexual revolution and the fight for civil rights.
These tenuous situations would eventually invade TV in the form of All in the Family. Yet Mayberry remained a place apart — a slow-paced, innocent town where an elderly aunt bestowed comfort and homemade jam; drunks let themselves in and out of the county jail, and an attentive and loving father opened each show by taking his son fishing.
What People say about Andy Griffith
George Lindsay, who played Goober in the series made this observation about The Andy Griffith Show, "One of the incredible things about every single episode is that Andy insisted each show have a moral point, something good, lofty and moral. It's a shame current shows on TV don't adopt that high road."
Show writer Bill Idelson once shared his opinion of why the series enjoyed success: "You know what the secret of the show is? You know why everybody loves it? It's about man's humanity to man rather than man's inhumanity to man. He's a sheriff, the police - the symbol of oppression, brutality, and ignorance throughout the world - and here's a guy who treats his neighbors and the people on the street as if they are human beings. I think people hunger for that so much that it transcends all of the cultures."
Casting Agent Craig Fincannon "A character on the show might be broadly eccentric, but the character had an ethical and moral base that allowed us to laugh with them and not at them," he said. "And Andy Griffith's the reason for that."
Random Facebook Comments about Andy Griffith:
- "Buddy old pal. Guess you in the big courthouse now keeping Barney straight. Rest in peace Andy"
- "I really enjoyed that show. One of the best on TV. Just think, no one swore, no one was half-naked and it was a success."
- "The Mayberry Gang: Aunt Bee's closeness and emotional ties to everyone - Opie's love to everyone in his life - Andy's commitment and devotion to his work and family - and Barney (although sometimes clumsy and comical), who was truly committed as well."
A friend made this comment about Andy, "He was a great role model. A lot like my Dad. A knowing patience that handled every situation with measured calm- with me thinking, Holy cow! Just punch Barney Fife in the face and be done with it!"
July 3, 2012
Ron Howard: "Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy"
Rodney Atkins: "Rest In Peace Andy Griffith. Praying for his family, friends, and fans."
Southern Living: "Rest in peace Andy Griffith. Mayberry will always have a special place in our hearts."
Lady Antebellum's Hillary Scott: "Heaven gained a talented man today. Mr. Andy Griffith, thanks for giving me amazing memories with my family growing up watching your show!"
Amy Grant: "From Team Amy - Go Rest High on that Mountain, Andy Griffith."
Dave Coulier: "RIP Andy Griffith. Thank you for all the laughs. I love Mayberry, and never knew that R.F.D., stood for Rural Free Delivery."
Andy Griffith created the wonderful winsome town of Mayberry. He created Andy Taylor a man who modeled justice, kindness and greatness. He won our respect and love.
Which one of us would not wish Andy Taylor to be our Father? Compassion and attentiveness oozed from this man. His sense of humor and cajoling brightened our day and lifted the clouds as we spent time together in Mayberry.
Thank you, Andy, for your vision of a little town that stood for all that was true and right in the world. Thank you for the dedication and energy poured into your characters and the series. We will never forget Mayberry or the man who made it all happen.
Goodbye, Andy! Know that you brought JOY to our days and spoke lasting lessons into our lives. You were respected and held in high regard by many of us who never met you face to face. Your legacy lives on.
© 2012 Susan Ream