Actor Andy Griffith became a house hold name through his portrayal of Mayberry’s Sheriff Andy Griffith. The Andy Griffith Show was hugely popular in the 1960’s and earned Andy the title of “America’s Favorite Sheriff”.
CNN (news service) has announced that Andy Griffith passed away this morning at age 86. His death was confirmed in a statement from the Dare County sheriff’s office in North Carolina. Andy Griffith died at his home on Roanoke Island, Dare County, North Carolina, at approximately 7:00am.
“Andy Griffith passed away, after an illness. Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island – Griffith Family.
Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord – Cindi Griffith Andy’s wife.
Viewers tuned in to “The Andy Griffith Show” not to watch Sheriff Andy Taylor solve big crimes, but to watch him solve the little problems of life by offering sage advice based on strong moral values, in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Other actors in the series included Don Knotts who played Deputy Barney Fife, and Jim Nabors as Gomer Pyle, the gas pumper. Most critics consider the show, which ran from 1960 to 1968, one of the top four or five sitcoms ever shown on television. The show was also a hit with bluegrass fans with the regular appearances by the Darling Family which featured The Dillards.
Andrew Samuel Griffith was born June 1, 1926, in Mt. Airy, North Carolina. As a child, he sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. While Andy originally aspired to be a musician, his skills as a storyteller mixed in with natural talent for country humor soon developed into an acting career. His first role was as Sir Walter Raleigh in Paul Green’s outdoor pageant, “The Lost Colony,” in Manteo, North Carolina.
Andy Griffith graduated with a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949. After graduation, he taught at a high school for a short time but moved to New York where he became a regular on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and “The Steve Allen Show” in the 1950s. In went on to star in a number of stage productions earning himself a Tony nomination for outstanding supporting actor. Andy Griffith made his film debut in “A Face in the Crowd,” with actress Patricia Neal. In 1960, he found himself with another Tony nomination, this time for best actor in the musical, “Destry Rides Again,” in 1960.
In 1972, Griffith started his own production company. Throughout the ’70s, Griffith continued his TV and film career. Griffith made a big return to television in 1986, playing the title role in the TV legal drama “Matlock”, which aired until 1995.
Griffith never forgot about his music roots. He received a Grammy Award for best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album for “I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns,” in 1997.
Rodney Dillard and Maggie Peterson appeared as part of the Darling family on The Andy Griffith Show in the ‘60s.
Andy Griffith became more than an icon. He represented American family values and has given comfort and hope in these uncertain times. He gave The Dillards (The Darlings) an opportunity to be part of this. Andy was kind, generous and patient with an inexperienced group of pickers from the Ozark Mountains. Andy Griffith’s impact on the world will last forever – Rodney Dillard.
Rodney appeared in six episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (1963-1966), Return to Mayberry TV movie (1986) and composer of the Andy Griffith Show Reunion TV special (1993). For more information, please visit www.RodneyDillard.TV
Maggie Peterson, who played the role of Charlene Dillard on The Andy Griffith Show (1963-1968) kept in contact with Andy throughout the years and offered the following in a tearful statement today:
The passing of Andy leaves me so saddened. It feels like the presence that kept us steady in life is now gone. The Darling family was treated with such respect on the show. These could have been ridiculous characters without Andy’s respectful reaction to us. Everyone will truly miss him. Thank God we have those beautiful episodes to keep us company. He enhanced my life and I will miss him so – Maggie Peterson.
In 1962, The Dillards, who had a new recording contract with Elektra Records, were asked by the producers of The Andy Griffith Show to play a bluegrass-playing family (The Darlings), whose patriarch was to played by popular Hollywood actor Denver Pyle… and to this day The Dillards are seen nearly every day somewhere in the world thanks to the still enormous popularity of The Andy Griffith Show re-runs. Rodney Dillard wrote and collaborated with others to write such classic songs as “There Is A Time”, “The Darlin’ Boys”, “Ebo Walker”, and “Dooley.”