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. (Read more Andy Griffith stories.)