My Thoughts on the Passing of Andy Griffith
by, 07-13-2012 at 08:38 AM (1092 Views)
Over in the news section is the sad story of Andy Griffith's death. Griffith was known around the world for his portrayal of Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, North Carolina. It is a role that will keep the actor in the hearts of the world forever more. That is why I am writing this additional piece in my blog. There is so much more to Griffith's story than the hard news of his death.
When I heard the headline on the news, I immediately turned on the Internet for all the details I could find. As I started to read, I broke into tears. There was just so much emotion to reading about his death. The funny thing is I wouldn't call myself a fan of his, but yet, he touched my heart.
Now part of it is the connection I place between Griffith and a good friend of mine who died several years ago. He was from North Carolina, as Griffith was. In fact, when he was a child, he lived on the same street as Griffith did and knew him. He had fond memories of Griffith. I suppose some of my tears were also for my friend. I actually see both of them together again for the first time this morning, chatting about those youthful days.
As Sheriff Taylor, Griffith played an imperfect man and father. Taylor flubbed up from time to time, often blaming his young son, Opie, for things that were not actually Opie's fault. At the same time, there was a father and son bond there that exceeded mistakes. It was about love and respect.
Ron Howard played Opie. Now one of Hollywood's leading directors, Howard didn't hesitate to return as Opie in the TV movie, Return to Mayberry. He never flinched when Griffith called him Ronnie, something everyone else stopped doing decades ago. To Griffith, Howard was always Ronnie. As a young child, Howard was treated just like any other kid, at the request of his father, Rance. It helped the child grow into a grounded family man, as well as a talented director. I am sure it is part of what led director Howard into agreeing to do anything Mayberry related that Griffith asked to do.
Many years later, Griffith's Matlock series was another big hit for him. I watched it happily. The character loved hot dogs, a fact that was never explained on the show. However, Griffith did tell the story as part of a special guest shot on Diagnosis Murder. I really loved that this appearance did something special like explaining the hot dog fetish and wasn't just a regular cross over.
True or not, the actor once said that the Newhart comedy show's series finale ruined his plans for Matlock's end. On that show's last episode, the central character woke up in bed in the role he had in The Bob Newhart Show. Griffith was going to have Matlock awake as Andy Taylor, having just had an odd dream about being a lawyer in Atlanta. I would have loved to have seen that.
Griffith, like Taylor, was imperfect. He was sometimes a taskmaster, but no matter what, he had high standards and held himself to it as much as he did others. He was also an intensely loyal person, something I personally value in my life. When Howard McNear, Floyd on TAGS, had a stroke, Griffith kept him on the show, putting him in seated positions. The fact that McNear's speech was affected did not deter Griffith at all. When Matlock aired, many of the TAGS stars appeared, including Aneta Corsaut, who played Helen.
In truth, my friend was much like him, and I cannot help but think of him when I think of Griffith. Truly, the loss of the actor is a huge loss, but I smile at having hours on end of Andy and son Opie to watch for the rest of my life.
Rest in peace, Mr. Griffith, and say a big hello to my friend.