Sadly, just one day before Independence Day that we celebrate in the States, one of the most beloved actors that was synonymous with Americana and apple pie; Andy Griffith has passed away at the age of 86.
Mr. Griffith's down home, country attitude portraying Sheriff Andy Taylor in the fictitious, rural town of Mayberry, North Carolina (though many people thought it actually existed and wanted to move there), never carried a gun and dispensed sage advice and worked out common sense to problems that came up with its residents. The series was such a big hit it garnered several spin-off shows along with merchandising ranging from metal lunch pails, coloring books and a board game. The series also launched the career of the little boy named, Opie; Sheriff Taylor's son that all kids identified with, who would later grow up to become a successful Hollywood director named Ron Howard.
Though acting wasn't Mr. Griffith's first choice, he studied at the prestigious University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he received a degree in music. As a talented musician and singer, this led him to performances on the Ed Sullivan and Steve Allan shows, subsequently taking him to Broadway where he performed in the stage play, No Time For Sergeants (a role later he would reprise in the theatrical version) garnering him a Tony nomination.
His first feature role away from being the aw-shucks, nice guy was in the seldom seen, 1957 film A Face In the Crowd, where he portrayed an evil, conniving, manipulating character out for himself, a role he often told people about that showcased his acting talents. Later good guy roles would include the military comedies, No Time For Sergeants and Onionhead.
Close friends with his co-star Don Knotts who portrayed the lovable, yet neurotic Deputy Barney Fife that carried one bullet in his gun on the Andy Griffith Show, Mr. Griffith contributed to Mr. Knotts' classic film, The Ghost and Mr. Chicken as an uncredited writer of the screenplay. It was this film that launched Mr. Knotts' career in feature film comedies for Universal-International.
Science fiction fans knew him as the junkyard astronaut in Salvage One.
Though playing many TV and feature film roles in his life, it was Ben Matlock of the series of the same name that he enjoyed the most being able to play a wide range of emotions and interacting with characters that may or may not have evil intentions within.
Mr. Griffith's character, Sheriff Andy Taylor was the foundation of truth, honesty combined a good heart and soul that we could all learn a lesson from to make the world a better place and that's a pretty good legacy to leave behind.