Andy Griffith Will Be Missed

Monday, 09 Jul 2012 11:36 AM

By Jon Friedman

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Andy Griffith, who died on July 3 at the age of 86, will be sorely missed.

I can proudly say that I have watched virtually every episode of "The Andy Griffith Show."

I'm a big-city slicker, to be sure. But there was something about Andy of Mayberry's stiff-upper-lip persona, his aw-shucks modesty and his determination to always to do the right thing that won me over.

Andy was the star of one of the funniest shows of the era. He was a grand team player, always willing to pass the ball and let Barney or Goober or Gomer or Aunt Bee get the biggest laugh of the show. He set a tone on the show, a generosity of spirit, and it helped create an atmosphere of conviviality on the set.

Andy Griffith was a unique actor. He was comfortable on television as well as in the movies and on Broadway. He always knew what he was doing and he brought ample warmth to a character.

He might well have been the dominant television comedy actor of the tumultuous '60s — with apologies to Dick Van Dyke — and he made the work seem effortless. This is the hallmark of a great, confident actor. He also had the range later to play "Matlock."

It's no wonder that Ron Howard, who played his son Opie on the TV show, could grow up in Hollywood as an unspoiled, good-natured kid. Today, Howard is an Oscar-winning director ("A Beautiful Mind"). I interviewed Ron a few times over the years and he couldn't have been more gracious when he discussed his debt to Griffith.

In later years, Carroll O'Connor's depiction of Archie Bunker would captivate America. Archie overshadowed Andy of Mayberry. But nobody could forget how much Andy Griffith contributed to American popular culture — he was one of a kind and we won't see an actor like him again.

Jon Friedman writes the Media Web column for Click here to read his latest column. He is also the author of "Forget About Today: Bob Dylan's Genius for (Re)invention, Shunning the Naysayers and Creating a Personal Revolution," which Penguin will publish August 7. Read more reports from Jon Friedman — Click Here Now.

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