God rest you, Andy Griffith

Well, I reckon it had to happen someday, but I declare I wish it wasn’t so:

Beloved actor Andy Griffith died this morning.

Former UNC President Bill Friday says The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock actor died at his home in Dare County, North Carolina around 7 a.m.

Friday, who is a close friend of the actor, confirmed the news to WITN News.

Some will think back on ol’ Andy and remember such irrelevancies as “Matlock,” which I never took any interest in. That image is apparently indelible, though. On Saturday, I was sitting out in the 108-degree sun at a wedding, and the guy in front of me commented on someone up ahead wearing a seersucker jacket, and said something like, “Somebody went with the Matlock look.” (If he’d turned around, he’d have seen someone wearing a full seersucker suit, which of course was the only thing to wear. This guy was in black, if you can believe it.)

But that’s not the impression Andy left on me, or on most people, I suspect.

To me, he’s the character of his youth. He’s the enthusiastic innocent of “No Time for Sergeants.” He’s the really scary, dark side of that character in “A Face in the Crowd” (in an awe-inspiring performance that I never saw him equal since — although few would want to remember him for that).

But mostly, he’s Andy Taylor, the Sheriff Without A Gun. And I mean the early Sheriff Taylor, in black and white, with Barney Fife, before he got jaded and bored with the character (his portrayal is unrecognizable in the later episodes, after Opie stopped being cute).

For the Andy Taylor I know, there’s a perfect heaven. It’s on the front porch of his house in Mayberry, just a-settin’ there rockin’ with Barney after one of Aunt Bea’s Mmmm-mmmm! dinners. Maybe he’s strumming the guitar a bit, but not too energetically. And he’s engaged in this sort of conversation:

Andy: You know what would be a good idea? If we all went up town and got a bottle of pop…
Barney: That’s a good idea, if we all went up town to get a bottle of pop.
Andy: You think Mr. Tucker would like to go?
Barney: Why don’t we ask him… if he’d like to go uptown to get a bottle of pop?
Andy: Mr. Tucker?
(No response from Mr. Tucker)
Andy: You wanna lets me and you go?
Barney: Where?
Andy: Uptown to get a bottle of pop?

That’s the sort of peace most anyone would like to rest in…

16 thoughts on “God rest you, Andy Griffith

  1. `Kathryn Braun Fenner

    When I heard, I actually thought that it would be a good thing, given today’s politics, if they’d rerun A Face in the Crowd….

  2. Steven Davis II

    Who’s the genius who thought to have an outside wedding in late June/early July?

  3. Silence

    I’ve always been a big fan of Andy Griffith, I celebrate his body of work with three notable exceptions:
    1) The episodes with Warren in them as the replacement for Barney.
    2) The episodes in color.
    3) The “vote for Obama” advertisment.

    He really did set the gold standard though, for television sitcoms and for Sheriffs. He was like a good old friend. I hope there’s a front porch bluegrass jam session in heaven.

  4. Silence

    Leon “The Peacemaker” Lott should take a lesson from Sheriff Andy Taylor.
    Andy never needed to own an M113 Armored Personnel Carrier.
    He and Barney could cover the whole city and county all by themselves, with the occasional deputization of Gomer, Floyd and Otis. They were the law. Sheriff and Justice of the Peace. That’s keeping costs down!

  5. bud

    Warren really was awful. But that’s not a reflection of Andy. He did his best.

    The color episodes were not as good as the B & W ones except for those handful with Barney. A couple of those are among my favorites.

    The “vote for Obama” ad. I’ll leave that one alone for now as we all mourn Andy.

  6. Bart

    One of my favorite characters on the show was Floyd the Barber. I think maybe the funniest episode was when Floyd and Barney were captured by the three female prisoners and held in a cabin for a couple of days. In the classic Floyd character, when the prisoners were captured and it was all over, Floyd stepped out on to the porch and announced that if the eggs were burned, it was not his fault. After all of the drama of being captured and Barney’s infamous dance with one of the prisoners, Floyd’s main concern was with the fried eggs. Too funny for words.

  7. Brad

    I’ve been listening to that episode while doing other things here.

    I just heard the best part. Andy is trying, ever so delicately, to explain to Ms. Eden why the wives of the town might not like her giving their husbands manicures, and he breaks it this way:

    “There’s something that I want you to understand… Now, I don’t know whether you know this or not, but uh… well, uh… Nature’s been good to you. I mean real, real, REAL good. I can’t remember when I’ve seen nature spend so much time on any one person…”

  8. Silence

    @ Brad – I remember that episode, but I didn’t recognize Barbara Eden. It’s amazing how many famous actors had cameos on the show. Just off the top of my head, I remember James Best, Denver Pyle, Ken Berry, Jack Nicholson, Frank Cady, Gavin MacLeod, Howard Hesseman and there’s probably a lot of other people that SDII will not know.

  9. Brad

    That was a great episode, all right. Of course, I liked anything with Floyd in it. Or Ernest T. Bass. I once went to a Halloween party as Ernest T. I carried a pillow case full of rocks, and kept picking up all the women at the party and saying, “See? Ah’m REAL STRAWNG…”

    My favorite Floyd episode may have been the one with Barbara Eden going to work as a manicurist in his shop.

    I don’t see how the censors let her wear that dress. She would have made a Barbie doll feel underdeveloped.

  10. Joanne

    I remember his response to Opie when they released the bird (after Opie had killed the mother bird earlier in the episode). Opie commented sadly that the cage was empty, but Andy remarked, “Yes, but the trees are so full.”

    Heaven (especially my dad) will be full of love for “Ange.”

  11. Steven Davis II

    “and there’s probably a lot of other people that SDII will not know”

    I don’t need to know them, Kathryn will tell me who they are.

  12. Doug T

    I had read a while back where Andy noted Howard McNear was the funniest person he had ever met.

    I have most of the b/w episodes memorized. Great characters, great writing.

  13. Ralph Hightower

    Last year, I rediscovered the black and white has a classic look about it when I photographed the final Space Shuttle landing.

    For 2012, I am using B&W film exclusively.

    @Kathryn Fenner would appeciate the “legal out” that I have for my New Year’s Resolution; I’d shoot digital in color.

    I haven’t seen the “Three Stooges Movie”, but I saw the trailer; I think it would’ve been better in B&W.

    I predict that next year, there will be a “Little Rascals” movie, and guess what, it will be in color.

  14. Brad

    I think it’s interesting that the pilot episode of “The Walking Dead” is about to be shown in B&W instead of the original color, and it’s being presented as a huge, premiere event.

    I’m thinking it will work well that way.

  15. Silence

    @ Brad -re: Walking Dead – until Ted Turner gets ahold of it and colorizes it.

    @Ralph, watch out that Turner doesn’t get your photos too.

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