Although his career accomplishments span decades, Griffith will be most remembered for playing wholesome character Sheriff Andy Taylor who lived in the peaceful town of Mayberry with his son Opie (Ron Howard) and his friend and work partner, deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts).
"We—everyone on the show—have a real sense of community, of kindness, toward one another," Griffith told The New York Times in 1965. "The basic rule by which we live comes through...the kindness comes through."
That kindness was so convincing that it seemed people believed Griffith wasn't even acting; he was never nominated for an Emmy during the series, unlike his co-star Knotts, who collected five Emmys in a row for his goofy potrayal as Fife.
Once Griffith closed the doors on The Andy Griffith Show in 1968 after a successful eight-year run, he went through a period of failed TV shows until he decided to go back to Mayberry. His 1986 TV-movie, Return to Mayberry, which featured surviving members of the original cast, was a huge success. Later that fall, Griffith landed the hit role of a Southern defense attorney in Matlock, which ran for over a decade.
In 2005 Griffith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, garnered critical acclaim with his diner owner role in Waitress (2007), appeared in Ron Howard's 2008 ad campaign for President Barack Obama, and later advocated for Obama's health care law.
In recent years, Griffith took time out to reflect on his own mortality: "You know when you're young you think you will always be. As you become more fragile, you reflect and you realize how much comfort can come from the past. Hymns can carry you into the future."
And so can a little bit of nostalgic whistling...
Watch a clip of The Andy Griffith Show with its memorable whistling show theme:
The Bio Channel will re-air a special on Andy Griffith this Friday, July 6th, at 9am.
Actor, Talk Show Host / 1926 - 2012
Andy Griffith is an actor and singer best known for his 1960s starring role in The Andy Griffith Show. He later returned to TV in the drama Matlock.