Andy Griffith Was 'Our Friend and Neighbor'

Dennis Rogers remembers late actor's struggles, triumphs

By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 3, 2012 12:58 PM CDT

(Newser) – In later years, Andy Griffith revealed how difficult it was to constantly be held up to his most iconic character, Sheriff Andy Taylor of the Andy Griffith Show. "I am not any favorite dad; I am not any kind of all-American person," he said. "I have failed in many ways. I am a man, like any other man." But to so many, particularly in his home state of North Carolina, he was also "our friend and neighbor and we were so proud of him we couldn't hardly stand it," writes Dennis Rogers for the Raleigh News & Observer in a touching remembrance of the late actor.

Rogers walks through Griffith's difficult childhood in Mount Airy, his struggle to break into showbiz, his wild success as Sheriff Taylor and subsequent hard times when the Andy Griffith Show ended: Nothing else quite lived up to the beloved show in the minds of the public, and his personal life fell apart. That finally changed in the 1980s, when he married again and debuted as another TV icon, lawyer Ben Matlock. Fans always wanted to believe Sheriff Taylor's Mayberry was based on Mount Airy, Rogers writes. But what they really wanted to believe "was that around the next bend or over the next hill was a place like Mayberry and a man as fair, wise, and decent as Sheriff Andy." His full piece is worth a read.

This March 6, 1987 file photo shows actor Andy Griffith in Toluca Lake, Calif.   (AP Photo/Doug Pizac, file)
This file image released by Viacom shows cast members from "The Andy Griffith Show," from left, Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor and Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor.   (AP Photo/Viacom, file)
This Jan. 24, 1963 file photo shows actors Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor, right, and Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife, in a scene from the "The Andy Griffith Show."   (AP Photo, file)
This undated file photo provided by Fox Searchlight Pictures shows actor Andy Griffith on the set of "Waitress."   (AP Photo/Fox Searchlight Pictures, file)
This Feb. 23, 1979 file photo shows actor Andy Griffith on the set of TV's "Salvage-1" near Los Angeles.   (AP Photo, file)
This Jan. 31, 1983 file photo shows actor Andy Griffith posing in Los Angeles to promote his upcoming CBS-TV film, "Murder in Coweta County."   (AP Photo/Wally Fong, file)
This Oct. 28, 2003 file photo shows actor Andy Griffith sitting in front of a bronze statue of Andy and Opie from the "Andy Griffith Show," after the unveiling ceremony in Raleigh, NC.   (AP Photo/Bob Jordan, File)
This Nov. 9, 2005 file photo shows President Bush presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to actor Andy Griffith in the East Room of the White House.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, file)
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