Andy Griffith was not famous for his sartorial elegance. But the star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock was famous for his sense of humor, and rightly so.
In a 1991 appearance on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” Griffith hilariously discussed landing a spot on TV Guide’s “Worst Dressed” list. He then recounted how he jumped to read that list, and was initially puzzled by what he read.
“My wonderful wife – we were in North Carolina at our home when that TV Guide came out,” Griffith began. “And I saw it, and I looked at it – ’cause I knew I had to get that award. And I looked all through it, and I wasn’t in the list. So later on, my wife told me that she had torn that page out.”
“I was kind of concerned about the show at that time, and she didn’t want me to be more concerned,” he added. “But I love it. I mean, that’s the whole idea of that gray suit. Matlock looks awful in it, but he thinks he looks wonderful.”
“See, I know that I’m a strange looking man and lost my figure a long time ago,” Griffith continued. “But this character I play doesn’t know that. This guy thinks he’s the best-lookin’ man that ever walked.”
Watch Griffith’s account of that episode here (at 1:40):
Matlock Was a Comic Character, Griffith Said
In a 2010 interview with the Television Academy Foundation, Griffith talked about the lengths he would go to in order to make a show funny. In the case of Matlock, he was always acutely conscious of what would get a laugh from the audience.
“Matlock is very bright, he’s very cheap, he’s very vain – all the things I am not,” Griffith explained. He added that he “enjoyed that character a lot. I just found him, I don’t know, I just… let my imagination roam. I never worried about the law… Somebody else was there to look after the law part. I just wanted it to be entertaining within that framework. I got in a lot of fights with the judges, I got in a lot of fights with the prosecutor. Because it was funny.”
Griffith went on to explain that Matlock’s love of hot dogs was a device designed to amuse the audience. So were the times Matlock got thrown into jail or out of the courtroom. It was all in the service of humor.
Watch Griffith expand on his Matlock character here:
Andy Griffith Passed Away in 2012
Two years after that interview, Griffith died at age 86 with his third wife by his side, ABC News reported. The actor’s family buried him hours later in a Roanoke Island grave near the North Carolina coast.
Griffith’s death certificate listed a heart attack as his cause of death. Griffith had suffered from coronary artery disease as well as hypertension and hyperlipidemia before he passed.
The actor is survived by his wife and one daughter, Dixie, from his first marriage.