On “The Andy Griffith Show,” actor Andy Griffith was everyone’s favorite father and sheriff. But his daughter revealed what he was like in real life.
Andy Griffith and Sheriff Andy Taylor were different. One is a sitcom character after all. But Griffith’s daughter Dixie revealed they did share similarities as well. For one, Griffith was greatly fond of actor Ron Howard, who played his on-screen son Opie, and Don Knotts, who played Deputy Barney Fife. Okay, maybe he didn’t like the actress playing Aunt Bee all that much. But he maintained a lifelong connection with Howard and Knotts.
“He loved Ron very, very much,” Dixie Griffin told Closer Weekly. “They had a deep and abiding respect for each other, and they remained friends till the end.”
Griffith also very much enjoyed North Carolina and small-town living. The actor had been born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, which later became the basis for Mayberry. When she was a kid, Griffith would take his daughter and family to North Carolina for the summer.
“During the summers, we’d go back to North Carolina and play volleyball and water ski,” she said. “I would play with him in the pool, and he’d put me up on his shoulders. He’d always stop what he was doing to play with me. [North Carolina], that’s where he was free. He would go into stores barefoot or without a shirt. He didn’t embody the Hollywood lifestyle.”
Andy Griffith in Real Life
Of course, Griffith was perhaps sadder than his own screen character as well. Life’s not all laughs and jokes like sitcom land. In 1996, Griffith lost his son Andy Griffith Jr. His son died at age 37 from alcoholism. Like any parent, Griffith took his son’s death hard and struggled with grief during his later years.
“It affected my dad on a very, very deep level,” Dixie Griffith said. “I went to my brother’s funeral service, but my dad wasn’t able to go. There would be too many magazines and cameras, and it just wasn’t a good place for him to be.”
Then in 2006, Griffith lost his longtime best friend and screen partner when Knotts died of pneumonia. The actor was by Knotts’ bedside when he passed. Knotts’ daughter Karen said the two remained close throughout their lives and were the best of friends.
“One thing I will tell you, and one thing that is different from what has been written in books, was that Andy was never jealous of my dad,” she said. “He was his biggest fan and mentor. Everything later he was in, he wanted to get my dad in, too… He was in my dad’s corner.”
Griffith retired to North Carolina where he spent out his remaining days. The actor passed away in 2012.