Andrew Samuel Griffith (1926 - 2012) MP

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Birthplace: Mount Airy, North Carolina, United States
Death: Died in Dare, North Carolina, United States
Occupation: Actor, director, producer, singer, and writer
Managed by: Tina
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About Andrew Samuel Griffith

While he will mostly be remembered for his roles on The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68) and Matlock (1986-95) which made TV history, Andy Griffith is also a Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer.

He was born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the only child of Geneva (née Nunn) and Carl Lee Griffith. At a very young age, Griffith had to live with relatives until his parents could afford to get a home of their own. Without a crib or a bed, he slept in drawers for a few months. In 1929, when Griffith was three years old, his father took a job working as a carpenter and was finally able to purchase a home in Mount Airy's "blue-collar" southside.

Like his mother, Griffith grew up listening to music. His father instilled a sense of humor from old family stories. By the time he entered school he was well aware that he was from what many considered the "wrong side of the tracks". He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come into his own.

As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama program. A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life. Griffith was raised Baptist and looked up to Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught him to sing and play the trombone. Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944. Griffith was delighted when he was offered a role in The Lost Colony, a play still performed today on historic Roanoke Island, part of the history filled Outer Banks, the barrier islands that sit along most of coastal North Carolina. He performed as a cast member of the play for several years, playing a variety of roles, until he finally landed the role of Sir Walter Raleigh, the namesake of North Carolina's capital.

He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's Carolina Play Makers. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1949. At UNC he was president of the UNC Men's Glee Club and a member of the Alpha Rho Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, America's oldest fraternity for men in music.

After graduation, he taught English for a few years at Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina. He also began to write. Griffith continued performing fitfully as an after-dinner speaker on the men's club circuit, developing hilariously bucolic routines on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to football. Under the aegis of agent/producer Richard O. Linke, Griffith returned to acting, attaining stardom in the role of bumptious Air Force rookie Will Stockdale in the TV and Broadway productions of No Time For Sergeants. Before committing Sergeants to film, Griffith made his movie debut in director Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd, in which he portrayed an outwardly folksy but inwardly vicious TV personality (patterned, some say, after Arthur Godfrey).

After filming Face in the Crowd, No Time for Sergeants and Onionhead for Warner Bros. during the years 1957 and 1958, Griffith starred in a 1959 Broadway musical version of Destry Rides Again; as an added source of income, Griffith ran a North Carolina supermarket.

On February 15, 1960 he first appeared as Andy Taylor, the laid-back sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina, on an episode of The Danny Thomas Show. This one-shot was of course the pilot film for the Emmy-winning The Andy Griffith Show, in which Griffith starred from 1960 through 1968. Eternally easygoing on camera, Griffith, who owned 50% of the series, ruled his sitcom set with an iron hand, though he was never as hard on the other actors as he was on himself. He remained close to fellow Griffith stars Don Knotts and Ron Howard through his lifetime.

An unsuccessful return to films with 1969's Angel in My Pocket was followed by an equally unsuccessful 1970 TV series Headmaster. For the next 15 years, Griffith confined himself to guest-star appearances, often surprising his fans by accepting cold-blooded villainous roles. In 1985, he made a triumphal return to series television in Matlock, playing a folksy but very crafty Southern defense attorney.

A life-threatening disease known as Gillian-Barre syndrome curtailed his activities in the late 1980s, but as of 1995 Andy Griffith was still raking in the ratings with his infrequent Matlock two-hour specials.

In October 2008, Griffith and Howard briefly reprised their Mayberry roles in an online video Ron Howard’s Call to Action. It was posted to comedy video website Funny or Die. The video encouraged people to vote and endorsed Democratic Party U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama, and U.S. vice-presidential candidate Joe Biden.

On July 3, 2012, Griffith died at his home on Roanoke Island in Dare County, North Carolina, at age 86. He is survived by two children from his first marriage, according to the biography site. A third son died of an overdose at the age of 36, according to American Profile.

Sources: Wikipedia, IMDB, Answers, CNN

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Andy Griffith's Timeline

1926
June 1, 1926
Mount Airy, North Carolina, United States
1949
August 22, 1949
Age 23
1957
1957
Age 30
1972
1972
Age 45
1975
1975
Age 48
1981
1981
Age 54
1983
April 12, 1983
Age 56
2012
July 3, 2012
Age 86
Dare, North Carolina, United States