ANDY GRIFFITH Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Andy Samuel Griffith                                                             
Born: 1 June 1926 Mount Airy, North Carolina, U.S.A.                                   
Andy Samuel Griffith (born June 1, 1926) is an American actor, producer, writer,       
director and southern gospel singer. He gained prominence in the starring               
role of A Face in the Crowd before he was better known for his starring roles,         
playing the title characters in the 1960s sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show, for           
CBS and in the 1980s and 1990s legal drama, Matlock, on NBC and later ABC.             
Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W.           
Bush on 9 November 2005. According to the Internet Movie Database, the                 
octogenarian is still acting and has two films in pre-production as of 2008.           
Griffith, an only child, was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the son of             
Geneva (née Nunn) and Carl Lee Griffith. To this day, Mount Airy annually             
celebrates Griffith and his eponymous television series with "Mayberry Days".           
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, Andy slept in a             
bureau drawer for a few months. In 1929, when Griffith was 3, his father took a         
job working as a carpenter and was finally able to purchase a home. Like his           
mother, Andy grew up listening to music. 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, Andy cultivated an       
interest in the arts and he participated in the school's drama program. A               
growing love of music would change his life. At age 15, after watching the 1941         
movie, Birth of the Blues, he decided to become a singer. Although neither he           
nor anyone else in his hometown knew how to play it, the first musical                 
instrument he purchased was a used trombone. Griffith looked up 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 delighted when he was offered a           
role in The Lost Colony, a play still performed today in the historic Outer             
Banks 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 changed his major to           
music. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and earned a         
bachelor's degree in music in 1949. While at UNC, he was president of the UNC           
Men's Glee Club and was 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 at Goldsboro High School, in Goldsboro, NC, for a few years.             
Griffith's early career was as a monologist, delivering long comic stories such         
as What it Was, Was Football, which is told from the point of view of a rural           
backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a football game. By             
1955, he was on Broadway, starring in No Time for Sergeants, a play about a             
country boy in the Air Force. Griffith reprised his lead role in the play for           
the movie version in 1958; the film also featured Don Knotts as a military             
psychiatrist, marking the beginning of a life-long association between Griffith         
and Knotts. No Time for Sergeants is also considered the direct inspiration for         
Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.. Also in 1958, Griffith portrayed a United States Coast           
Guard sailor in the movie Onionhead, but the film was not a critical or                 
commercial success.                                                                     
In 1957, Griffith starred in A Face in the Crowd. Although he plays a "country         
boy", this "country boy" is manipulative and power-hungry, a drifter who becomes       
a television host and uses his show as a gateway to political power. Co-starring       
Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa and Lee Remick (in her film debut),       
this now-classic film showcases Griffith's powerful talents as a dramatic actor         
and singer.                                                                             
The film demonstrated, quite early-on, the power that television can have upon         
the masses. Directed by Elia Kazan, written by Budd Schulberg, ostensibly based         
on the alleged on-stage phoniness of Will Rogers and Arthur Godfrey, the               
prescient film was seldom run on television until the 1990s. A 2005 DVD reissue         
came complete with a mini-documentary on the film with comments from Schulberg         
and surviving cast members Griffith, Franciosa and Neal.                               
Griffith's first appearance on television was as the star in the original (1955)       
adaptation of No Time for Sergeants on The United States Steel Hour, the first         
of 2 appearances on the show. Griffith has also made other character appearances       
on Playhouse 90, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C., Mayberry R.F.D., The Mod Squad, Hawaii           
Five-O, The Doris Day Show, Here's Lucy, The Bionic Woman, Fantasy Island, among       
many others. He also reprised his role as Ben Matlock on Diagnosis: Murder in           
1997, and his final guest-starring role to date has been an episode of Dawson's