HomeEntertainmentHappy Birthday Andy Griffith: Remembering the Legendary TV Icon

Happy Birthday Andy Griffith: Remembering the Legendary TV Icon

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by John Springer Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

The world best remembers Andy Griffith as a TV star. However, he was much more than that. Griffith was a stage actor. He was also a platinum-selling musician. Before that, though, he was a comedian. By the end of his life, Griffith had helped to create two classic TV shows that would go on to become cultural touchstones. At the same time, he exemplified wholesome country living and strong moral character. In short, Andy was a blessing. He passed away in 2012 but his influence and impact are still there for the world to see.

Andy Griffith would have been 95 today. So, to celebrate, we’re going to look back at some of his best moments.

The Comedy Of Andy Griffith

Let’s start where Griffith’s career started: with comedy. He was not a stand-up comedian as we think of them today. Griffith was a monologist. He told stories. But, he told them in such a way that they were hilarious. Much like the Andy Griffith Show, his sets never really included jokes. In fact, if you listen to his early albums, you can see where the comedy in the classic series came from. Check out his classic bit called, What It Was, Was Football. You can see both the infancy of his later character as well as the fact that Griffith’s comedy still holds up today.

Griffith On Stage

Andy Griffith wasn’t a very prolific stage actor. However, he stood out on stage. His first and arguably most important role was that of Will Stockdale in No Time for Sergeants. In that play, Andy portrayed a country boy in the United States Air Force. The role earned him a Tony Award nomination for Distinguished Supporting or Featured Dramatic Actor, according to Andy’s IMDb bio.

No Time for Sergeants was actually three different productions. First, it was a teleplay on an anthology series. Then, it was a Broadway play. Finally, in 1958 it became a feature film. It was the film adaptation of No Time for Sergeants that would have the biggest impact. That’s where he met Don Knotts. They formed a friendship while working together on that film that would last until Knotts died in 2006.

The Andy Griffith Show

The Andy Griffith Show really allowed Andy’s personality to shine. He never wrote or directed any of the episodes. He did, however, hold a healthy amount of creative control over the series. He would change scripts to his liking. In fact, he and Don Knotts would work late into the night retooling scripts if he felt they weren’t up to his standards. That is why the classic series maintained a cohesive voice throughout its run. It was Andy’s voice. Ron Howard once said that Andy was the “architect,” of the series.

Andy Griffith was already an acclaimed actor. This show, though, elevated him to new heights. He became a household name. At the same time, it boosted the popularity of several other cast members including Don Knotts and Ron Howard.

Today, people around the globe still love The Andy Griffith Show for its down-home charm and wholesome comedy.

Andy’s Later Career

The Andy Griffith Show opened countless doors for its star. At the same time, it made him a wealthy man. So, he was able to take the work he wanted to do. Two highlights from his later career are Matlock, his second incredibly popular TV series, and Murder in Texas, a made-for-TV true crime film.

Matlock earned Andy Griffith a People’s Choice Award. When he accepted the award, he said that Ben Matlock was his favorite role, according to his IMDb bio.

Griffith was nominated for an Emmy Award for his work in Murder in Texas.

Andy Griffith also recorded several albums. He released both comedy and musical records throughout his career. The most successful of those was the 1997 release I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns. That record went on to be certified platinum. The album also won Andy the Grammy for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album that year.