Birthday: June 1, 1926
Died At Age: 86
Sun Sign: Gemini
Also Known As: Andy Griffith
Born in: Mount Airy
Famous as: Actor
political ideology: Democratic
Spouse/Ex-: Barbara Griffith (m. 1949–1972), Cindi Knight (m. 1983–2012), Solica Casuto (m. 1975–1981)
father: Carl Lee Griffith
children: Andy Griffith Jr., Dixie Griffith
Died on: July 3, 2012
place of death: Manteo
education: Mount Airy High School, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Who was Andy Griffith?
Andy Griffith was an actor, television producer, writer and a singer. He was one of the most famous television personalities of the last few decades. ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, which entertained the audiences for nearly eight years, was his most famous show and took him to great heights of success. With a humble beginning as a comedian, Griffith proved his versatility by starring in several roles. His portrayals of villainous characters in several television films received huge appreciation while he was already a star in the field of comedy. As time passed by, he took up more challenging roles and executed them in the best possible manner. A veteran of Broadway, he had come a long way from shackles of poverty to become one of the celebrated individuals of television. His character of ‘Andy Taylor’, the protagonist in the ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, is perhaps his most reminisced role and the highlight of his career. However, Griffith never allowed himself to be typecast and moved ahead to act in movies. He was also a country and gospel singer and even won a Grammy.
Childhood & Early Life
Andy was born to Carl Lee Griffith and Geneva who were extremely poor and had to live with their relatives as they did not have a house of their own.
When Andy turned three, his father began working as a carpenter and was eventually able to afford a house for the family.
He was sent to the Mount Airy High School where he was an active performer and played music. His mentor was Ed Mickey, a priest at Grace Moravian Church, who nurtured his skills till his graduation from high school in 1944.
Initially, he studied to be a Moravian preacher but later pursued music and joined the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from where he received his degree in music in 1949.
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Following his graduation, he joined Goldsboro High School as a music and drama teacher for three years. Later, he set out as a monologist and his monologue ‘What it Was, Was Football’, released in 1953, became very popular.
In 1954, he made his television debut when he was invited as a guest on the Ed Sullivan Show.
He appeared in Ira Levin’s teleplay ‘No Time for Sergeants’ in March 1955. It was an adaptation of the 1954 best-selling novel of the same name by Mac Hyman.
He appeared in the theatrical version of the same name on Broadway in October 1955 and Griffith was immensely appreciated for his performance.
In 1957, he appeared on television again with the movie ‘A Face in the Crowd’, portraying a vagrant who eventually becomes a TV personality.
The year 1960 marked the beginning of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ which was offered to him by channel CBS, after his guest performance in the sitcom ‘Make Room for Daddy’. After an extremely successful stint, he chose to quit ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ in 1968 to begin a career in movies.
In 1972 , he started ‘Andy Griffith Enterprises’, his production company and starred in several television films, such as ‘Go Ask Alice’, ‘The Strangers In 7A’, ‘Winter Kill’ and ‘Pray for the Wildcats’ throughout the 1970s.
He starred in the comedy feature film ‘Hearts of the West’ in 1975 as Howard Pike alias Billy Pueblo. He appeared in several films through the 1990s and in the early 2000s.
His last film appearance was in the 2009 rom-com ‘Play the Game’ where he played the role of Grandpa Joe.
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Griffith gained prominence in the film industry with ‘A Face in the Crowd’, which was viewed as ‘culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant’ and was, thus, preserved by the National Film Registry of United States, maintained by Library of Congress.
The sitcom ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ made him extremely famous and brought him immense critical and commercial success. The show ran for almost eight years and has been rated as the 9th best show in American television history by the weekly, ‘TV Guide’.
He is also remembered for his role as the criminal defense counsel, Ben Matlock, in the television series ‘Matlock’.
Awards & Achievements
In 1981, he earned his only Primetime Emmy nomination for the television movie ‘Murder in Texas’ in the ‘Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie’ category.
He was awarded a People's Choice Award in 1987, for his performance as ‘Ben Matlock’ in the TV drama series ‘Matlock’.
In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in America.
Personal Life & Legacy
He married Barbara Bray Edwards on August 22, 1949 and the couple adopted two children before their divorce in 1972.
From 1973 to 1981, he was married to the Greek actress, Solica Cassuto.
He got married to Cindi Knight on April 12, 1983 and was with her till his death.
After a period of ailments and declining health, he passed away due to a cardiac arrest at the age of 86.
This famous actor, who was also a television producer, was born to poor parents who could not even afford a crib for him at his birth and therefore, made him sleep in drawers!