Born and raised in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith went from the “wrong side of the tracks” to one of the most iconic stars in Hollywood history. With his classic TV show The Andy Griffith Show, Andy Griffith left his mark on the world by creating one of the best series to ever hit American television. At the time of his death at the age of 86, Andy Griffith was praised not only as an actor but as a producer, comedian, singer, and writer as well.
Andy Griffith is so beloved, in fact, that countless documentaries, books, and other media have been created (and are still being created) exploring his life and many creations. Knowing this, when John Railey set out to create Andy Griffith’s Manteo: His Real Mayberry, he wanted to approach Griffith’s story from a unique angle.
John Railey avoided writing solely about The Andy Griffith Show or the actor’s rise to fame. Instead, Railey’s book details how Griffith came to love the Outer Banks so much that he chose Roanoke Island as his final resting place.
‘Andy Griffith’s Manteo’ Author Shares How the Book Came Together
A North Carolina native himself, as well as a long-time fan of Andy Griffith, John Railey is perhaps the perfect person to pen a book like Andy Griffith’s Manteo. In an interview with the Winston-Salem Journal, John Railey shared his good fortune in finding the story.
“It was just a gift to find,” Railey explained. “I couldn’t believe this book had never been done because that island formed him as an artist. When he was in The Lost Colony, he made the connections there that took him to the top. He never stopped giving back to the place. It was just a godsend to be able to do this story.”
“I’d interviewed him once as a journalist,” the author said. “And I’d seen him around Nags Head and Manteo growing up. But, you know, I never knew the real guy, and we were all fascinated by him. You know, everybody had stories about seeing him going in the liquor store barefoot.”
When it came time to gather stories from Andy Griffith’s friends and colleagues, John Railey’s good luck streak continued. Dozens of Griffith’s family members, friends, and business associates were more than happy to share with Railey.
“They just opened up,” Railey recalled. “I mean, they were pulling out scrapbooks, and I have in my book all these candid photos of Andy. The real guy, not scripted, but just laid-back Andy on the island.”