Andy Griffith, left, and Ron Howard starred together on “The Andy Griffith Show.
I know I just wrote a post about Nora Ephron last week, and now it’s Andy. I don’t plan to make a habit of this.
Andy Griffith (86), whose gentle humor and commonsense-style wisdom made The Andy Griffith Show an enduring presence on TV in the sixties, died Tuesday, July 3, 2012 in Manteo, N.C.
He was known for ending shows by looking at the audience and saying “I appreciate it, and good night.” Perhaps the greatest enduring lesson I learned from eight seasons playing Andy’s son Opie on the show was that he truly understood the meaning of those words, and he meant them, and there was value in that. — Ron Howard
When I was a kid, my two favorite shows were I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show. When I heard that trademark whistling that signified the beginning of The Andy Griffith Show, I knew I was in for a half hour of lighthearted fun, and, more than likely, a light-handed lesson about how to be a better, kinder human being from Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, USA. But The Andy Griffith Show wasn’t just for kids. The grownups liked it, too, and you can still find it today. My dad will be 95 next month, and he watches the reruns everyday.
My friend Susan and I found jobs on the Outer Banks after graduation. We lived on the ocean the entire summer of 1968. We became friends with a number of the locals. They entertained us with Outer Banks’ stories about ghosts and nags and shipwrecks and pirates, but my favorite was about the local celebrity, Andy Griffith. Everyone in town could tell you that Andy, who could have lived anywhere he wished, had a home right there in Manteo, NC. He traveled the world, but Manteo was home. He drove an old, battered pickup truck, and you could find him out on the piers with his fishing rod, fishing with all the “regular” folks.
A couple of our friends asked if we’d like to see his house. Susan and I said, “Sure.” They drove us down a long, unpaved driveway. It ended at a nice but unassuming rancher that sat on a lovely property. I remember thinking that it looked nothing like a movie star’s house; it wasn’t palatial or fancy, and there was no gate, not even a guard dog. We drove right up to the house.
Most fans know that Andy Griffith got his start in the Lost Colony, a play about some of the original English settlers of “The New World.” It is performed in an outdoor theater in Manteo, North Carolina on Roanoke Island. The atmosphere is great. We took my son to see it while vacationing there in the eighties. Tip: douse yourself in insect repellent first. After all, it is an Island.
Charles Massey is the Marketing Director for The Lost Colony. He says Griffith found a special place in his heart for the area.
“He spotted a piece of property and said if he ever made it, he wanted to buy that piece of property,” Massey says. “That’s where he died this morning at his home.”
Andy Griffith loved the Outer Banks and Manteo. No matter how far we roam, no matter how high we climb, the heart wants to go to that place called home to die. Andy Griffith died in his home on his beloved Roanoke Island. RIP, Andy, and thanks for all those years of smiles and all those life lessons about kindness and redemption and fairness.