June 1: Actor, comedian and singer, Andy Griffith is 85 years-old today.

He'll always be "Opie's Dad," but there's been a great deal more to Andy Griffith's entertainment career than Mayberry...

Andy Samuel Griffith who was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina (often mentioned on The Andy Griffith Show) in 1926. In addition to comedic and dramatic acting, he is director, producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and writer.

His first big break came when he stared in the films A Face in the Crowd and No Time for Sargeants. He's made many other movies, but he is perhaps best known for his television shows, the 1960-68 situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show between 1960-68, and in the 1986-95 legal drama, Matlock. Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom on November 9, 2005.

Griffith developed his interest in music from his mother. His father instilled a sense of humor from old family stories. 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. Ed Mickey, a minister at Grace Moravian Church, who led the brass band and taught Andy to sing and play the trombone. Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944.
Griffith was offered a role in The Lost Colony, a play still performed today on historic Roanoke Island.

He began college studying to be a 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.

Griffith in A Face in the Crowd with Patricia Neal
Griffith sang as part of some of his acting roles, most notably in A Face In The Crowd and in many episodes of both The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. In addition to his recordings of comic monologues in the 1950s, he made an album of upbeat country and gospel tunes during the run of The Andy Griffith Show, which included a version of the show's theme sung by Griffith under the title "The Fishin' Hole."

In recent years, he has recorded successful albums of classic Christian hymns for Sparrow Records. His most successful was the 1996 release I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns, which was certified platinum by the RIAA.

In 2008, Griffith appeared in country singer Brad Paisley's music video "Waitin' on a Woman."

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Wit & Wisdom of Andy GriffithBound for the Promised Land


Beginning in 1960, Griffith starred as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, where Taylor, a widower, was the sheriff and town sage. From 1960 to 1965, the show co-starred character actor and comedian—and Griffith's longtime friend—Don Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's best friend and partner. The show also starred child actor Ron Howard who played Taylor's only child, Opie Taylor.

The show was an immediate hit. Although Griffith never received a writing credit for the show, he worked on the development of every script. While Knotts was frequently lauded and won multiple Emmy Awards for his comedic performances - (as did Frances Bavier for her role as Aunt bea in 1967 -  Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy Award during the show's run.

After leaving his still-popular show in 1968, and starting his own production company (Andy Griffith Enterprises) in 1972, Griffith starred in less-successful television series such as The Headmaster, The New Andy Griffith Show, Adams of Eagle Lake, Salvage 1, and The Yeagers.

After spending time in rehabilitation for leg paralysis from Guillain–Barré syndrome in 1986, Griffith returned to television as the title character, Ben Matlock, in the legal drama Matlock on NBC and ABC. Matlock was a country lawyer in Atlanta, Georgia, who was known for his Southern drawl and for always winning his cases.

Griffith's friendship with Ron Howard began in 1960, when they guest-starred in the episode of Danny Thomas' show, Make Room For Daddy. That led to the creation of The Andy Griffith Show that same year. For eight seasons they shared a unique father-son relationship on the set. They guest-starred together in its spin-off series, Mayberry R.F.D., in an episode where Griffith's character married his long-time girlfriend.

Griffith made a surprise appearance as the ghost of Andy Taylor when Howard hosted Saturday Night Live in 1982.

Andy Griffith still lives in North Carolina.