The avuncular TV icon Andy Griffith has died, according to WITN News.
Mayberry’s favorite son was 86.
For eight years, Griffith played the warm and gentle sheriff of the fictional small town of Mayberry, N.C., raising his son Opie (Ron Howard) and coping with his goofy deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts).
“My heart is broken,” said Rhubarb Jones, a mass communications instructor at Kennesaw State University who was a popular morning jock on 106.7 when it was a country station. ” ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was the first one I remember that was transgenerational. My grandmother, my mother, my dad and I all liked it. You learned something every time you watched it.”
Jones owns every episode on DVD and plans to watch a few tonight in honor of Griffith.
Moby, a former morning host for Kicks 101.5 who now airs a syndicated show heard locally on South 107.1 in Rome and WNGC in Athens, said he had the honor to talk to Griffith while at Kicks on the phone and was tickled pink.
“He raised me,” said Moby, whose real name is James Carney. “He was everybody’s Daddy. He represented respect for authority and love of country and community. America would be a better place if it were run by Sheriff Andy Taylor.”
The Mount Airy, N.C. native broke into film with 1957’s acclaimed “A Face in the Crowd.” Another favorite among Griffith acolytes: the comedy “No Time for Sergeants,” based on Cordele, Ga., native Mac Hyman’s novel by the same title.
Before then, Griffith made a name for himself as a stand-up comic. Atlanta comedy legend Jerry Farber remembers being inspired by Griffith as a child, specifically his 1953 college football monologue in particular. “He portrayed a hillbilly hick from North Carolina,” Farber said. “He was corny but funny that reached deep in the bone.” He got to see Griffith live while he was a student at the University of North Carolina, Griffith’s alma mater, but never got to meet him.
Griffith’s “Matlock” character was an Atlanta lawyer, though the show was not actually shot here. There have been rumors over the years that his character is based on actual Georgia criminal attorney, Bobby Lee Cook, who is still practicing out at Cook and Connelly in Summerville. But in an Atlanta Journal Constitution story from 1991, the show’s executive producer denied it. And Cook himself had never been contacted by the show.
Tell us your memories of Griffith, be it his time on “The Andy Griffith Show” in the 1960s to his popular 1980s legal drama “Matlock.”
Coincidentally, WATL-TV added “The Andy Griffith Show” at 7:30 p.m. just last month. “It does extraordinarily well in three other Gannett markets in the South,” said John Deushane, the general manager. “This show has defined the phrase evergreen. There isn’t a more quotable show.” He plans to air marathons of the show tonight through Thursday from 7:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. in honor of Griffith.
Also to give Griffith his due, Mara Davis on rock station Dave FM today, during her themed lunch hour, played songs with whistling in it since the memorable “Andy Griffith Show” theme song relied heavily on whistling.
And the Hallmark Movie Channel will be running a “Matlock” marathon July 4 starting at 6 a.m.
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