Obama speaks fondly of Andy Griffith’s career

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - President Barack Obama says he is saddened to hear that Andy Griffith has died at age 86 and called the actor an extraordinary talent.

Obama said in a statement Tuesday that Griffith was beloved by generations and revered by entertainers.

Obama was one of many people to speak fondly of Griffith’s career. Griffith was most famous for his character Sheriff Andy Taylor from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Ron Howard played Sheriff Taylor’s son, Opie, on the show. Howard says Griffith was inspiring to grow up around and the show was an amazing environment.

Don Knotts was the goofy Deputy Barney Fife. Knotts’ widow, Francey Yarborough Knotts, says Griffith was in good spirits when she spoke with him June 1, his birthday.

Knotts died in 2006 at age 81.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

It was all too easy to confuse Andy Griffith the actor with Sheriff Andy Taylor, his most famous character from “The Andy Griffith Show.”

After all, Griffith set his namesake show in a make-believe town based on his hometown of Mount Airy, N.C., and played his “aw, shucks” persona to such perfection that viewers easily believed the character and the man were one.

Griffith, 86, died Tuesday at his coastal home, Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie said in a statement.

“Mr. Griffith passed away this morning at his home peacefully and has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island,” Doughtie told The Associated Press, reading from a family statement.

Although he acknowledged some similarities between himself and the wise sheriff who oversaw a town of eccentrics, they weren’t the same. Griffith was more complicated than the role he played _ witnessed by his three marriages if nothing else.

But that perception led people to believe Griffith was all that was good about North Carolina and put pressure on him to live up to an impossible Hollywood standard.

He protected his privacy in the coastal town of Manteo, by building a circle of friends who revealed little to nothing about him.

Strangers who asked where Griffith lived would receive circular directions that took them to the beach, said William Ivey Long, the Tony Award-winning costume designer whose parents were friends with Griffith and his first wife, Barbara.

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