Here’s Why Andy Griffith Got Bullied as a Kid in North Carolina

by Suzanne Halliburton
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In hindsight, it seems difficult to believe that someone as affable as Andy Griffith, the king of classic TV stars, would be disliked.

But back when he was growing up in Mount Airy, N.C., a mostly blue-collar small town, his classmates bullied Griffith. Kids believed he was different, he was the rich kid. So they made fun of him.

“His father was a foreman in a furniture factory, so his parents could dress Andy well,” said Daniel de Vise, who wrote a book about Andy Griffith, his classic comedy and friendship with Don Knotts.

“That worked against him because a lot of the kids from the poor side of Mount Airy were not clean or well dressed,” de Vise said. “And Andy got bullied a lot as a kid.”

But to deal with the bullying, Griffith decided to tell jokes. He used humor to change attitudes. And Andy Griffith stayed charming and funny his entire career. He played his authentic self as Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. He was the same, only older, when he played lawyer Ben Matlock on the 1980s drama Matlock.

Before the show, Andy Griffith appeared alongside Don Knotts in No Time for Sergeants.. (LMPC via Getty Images)

Most fans probably don’t know that Griffith thought he was going to be a preacher. But he changed his career goals and his major while studying at the University of North Carolina. Once he graduated from UNC, he became a high school music teacher. He and his wife, Barbara, who he met in college, eventually headed to New York. Griffith wanted to act, so he appeared on Broadway. And long before The Andy Griffith Show, he earned two Tony nominations. He also developed a comedy routine, which came in handy for future roles.

Closer Weekly interviewed Griffith’s daughter for a story published this past weekend. Dixie Griffith talked about how her dad was anything but the typical Hollywood type. He used to spend his summers at his 70-acre estate on Roanoke Island, on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

 “That’s where he felt free,” Dixie said of her dad. “We would go on boat trips, play volleyball and go waterskiing. He loved to entertain and was pretty much the life of the party.” 

After premiere of The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith starred with Debbie Reynolds in Second Time Around. (LMPC via Getty Images)

And Dixie revealed that her dad liked to go barefoot a lot. He truly was a relaxed individual. She said he’d walk in a store sans shoes, sometimes even without a shirt. Obviously, there wasn’t a sign displayed about no shoes, no shirt, no service. Or maybe the clerks let it slide because he was Andy Griffith.

He truly loved North Carolina. And although the kids bullied him back in the day, Griffith was true to his hometown. After all, Mayberry looked a lot like Mount Airy.

Everyone’s favorite sheriff died July 3, 2012. He as 86. Hours after he died, Griffith’s family buried him on the island so that he’ll always be connected to his roots.

Outsider.com