Griffith was born June 1, 1926, and as a child sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. He studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and for a time contemplated a career in the ministry. But he eventually got a job teaching high school music in Goldsboro.
's gift to the show that bore his name wasn't just the homespun wisdom of the plain-spoken sheriff he played. It was the place he created: a small town where all foibles are forgiven and friendships are forever, full of characters who felt like family.
Mayberry, a fictional North Carolina village said to be modeled onGriffith's own hometown of Mount Airy, was so beloved that it practically became a synonym for any community that was too innocent and trusting for real life. After all, Griffith's Mayberry was a place where the sheriff didn't carry a gun, the local drunk locked himself in jail and even the villains who passed through were changed by their stay.
On "The," he created an endearing portrait of a place where few people grew up but many wished they did.
Griffith, who died Tuesday at 86 at his North Carolina home, played a sage widower namedwho offered gentle guidance to son Opie, played by little Ron Howard, who grew up to become an Oscar-winning director. Griffith inhabited the sheriff's "aw, shucks" persona so completely that viewers easily believed the character and the man were one.
The show initially aired from 1960 to 1968 and never really left television, living on for decades in reruns. Almost 20 years later, a reunion movie titled "Return to Mayberry" was the top-rated TV movie of the 1985-86 season.
Griffith was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country's highest civilian honors.
We'll miss ya Andy!