Andy Griffith dead at 86

Hearing of Andy Griffith’s death today at 86 is kind of like learning a family friend died. I use the characterization of a “family friend” as opposed to ” … like hearing a friend died” as it seems more accurate. I grew up with Andy Griffith as a constant presence. I remember someone in my household bought his comedy album “What It Was Was Football” and I listened to this seemingly before “The Andy Griffith Show” aired for the first time in October 1960.

Andy Griffith in a publicity photo for “No Time for Sergeants.” Photo courtesy of Creative Commons and Wikipedia

It is complicated writing about someone who lived so many years and practiced his craft as an actor and comedian over the vast majority of my life. And, I’m 56. I will let the newspaper folks of today write their news obituaries, many of which are prepared years in advance. I wonder how many of those who write today about Griffith came from small towns and the times he did and, thus, can walk “a mile in his shoes?” This woman who went to school with Andy is excepted.

And it is more than a TV show that defines the body of work left by this man. I never saw his film debut in the now classic, “A Face in the Crowd” but have many times watched the hilarious “No Time for Sergeants” that he brought to film from Broadway to Hollywood. There aren’t many scenes funnier than the one in which Griffith as Will Stockdale gets a latrine ready for inspection by rigging the toilet seats to rise at attention while a nervous Pvt. Ben Whitledge, played fabulously by Nick Adams announces in the inspecting officers.

Generational figures like Andy Griffith are difficult to explain, so I won’t. All I can do is add a RIP and remember the laughs, the songs and the shows this towering figure left us. Thanks for truly entertaining us.



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