Actor and singer Andy Griffith has died at the age of 86. He was best known for his role in The Andy Griffith Show and later in Matlock and also fairly well-known as a singer.
Griffith was born and raised in North Carolina to a decidedly blue collar family. He discovered the performing arts in high school, and merged those with his love of religion when he became active in his church’s band. From there it was a few short steps to acting, and soon he was performing locally. It wasn’t too long after that that he began performing for larger audiences and soon was getting more and more attention, leading to numerous roles on TV.
He began his role on The Andy Griffith Show in 1960, and it was a role that would provide for him until 1968, which is a pretty good run by anyone’s standards. He returned to his most famous role on a couple occasions in reunion shows. Then in 1986, he began his role as a lawyer in Matlock, which ran until 1995.
Personally I’ll always remember Griffith for his impressive performance as Lonesome Rhodes in A Face in the Crowd. There he plays a convict and singer who is discovered by a radio reporter. Soon he’s singing for larger and larger audiences and, in short order, has his own TV show. Then he begins to dabble in politics and styles himself as something of a king maker. Things get ugly fast. It’s a great movie and he’s great in it. If nothing else, it’s fascinating seeing him play a villain.
Griffith was by all accounts a hell of a nice guy, in addition to being a great actor and singer. He will be missed.