To say I knew Andy Griffith is an honor…
Andy died yesterday at age 86 and I officed across the hall from him with producer Dan York at Universal from 1990-1992. I’d run into the legendary star weekly and we talked about new projects. When I mentioned that Nick Kazan had written my life story (a screenplay) then titled OUTLAWS, he smiled.
Andy’s first big break came from Nick’s father Elia Kazan who directed Griffith in "A Face In The Crowd." That’s the movie that made Griffith a star. What I most remember about Andy is that he was tall and always wore a coat and tie. Yes, those were fun and interesting times.
I find it strange when icons like Andy Griffith pass away that there’s so little fanfare.
I guess when you go the distance, live a long life and have so much success, it’s just not as exciting when you die. If you’re a baby boomer though, odds are you grew up with Andy’s TV show, The Andy Griffith Show. Remember that opening whistling tune with Andy with son Ron Howard going fishing?
Ron would go on to be one of the most successful directors in Hollywood history.
I didn’t really know Ron, but we met when I worked for Roger Corman. I was a film music V.P at his New World Pictures. Howard was often in the office back in those days, the early 80’s. Howard directed his first film for Roger, "Eat My Dust" and the rest of his career was hit after hit.
If you were like me, Andy Griffith was kinda like the dad we all wanted – kind, wise and tough.
For me his TV show was the series of the 1960’s. So many careers of merit came from that wonderful family program that shot more than 250 shows. Gomer Pyle, starring Jim Nabors, for one. That was another must see TV series on Friday nights.
And everyone’s favorite character had to be Barney Fife (Don Knotts). You didn’t get much funnier than that man.
Well, outside of Howard and Nabors, the stars and co stars of one of America’s all time favorite TV series are gone. Sadly, young people will not get to know this small town group of wonderful, funny and charming people, though they live on in reruns.
With the passing of Andy Griffith and other household names of the best decade maybe ever – the 1960’s – their memory fades a little further. And that’s so sad and makes me wonder.I
If they don’t matter much anymore, who does?