Folksy and rural, Andy Griffith may have cut an unusual figure for a legend. The North Carolina actor created two roles that America grew up with, and in the wake of his death Tuesday at age 86, we have an opportunity to celebrate his influence on the family as we also mourn his loss.
But mostly, we should celebrate his influence.
Whether teaching a child about living things (Opie and the Bird Man), dealing with adversity (anything with Ernest T. Bass) or responsibility (with Bill Bixby as the spoiled young antagonist in Baily's Bad Boy), The Andy Griffith Show has influenced all of us a little bit.
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If we didn't know the show, our parents or grandparents did. The bottom line is that no one in America is more than three degrees from Andy Taylor. Kevin Bacon should be so lucky.
"Mayberry" became synonymous with simple small town life in the same way that Mario Andretti became code for speed demon.
How often have we heard "Where (or What) do you think this is, Mayberry?"
Talk about hyperlocal, Mayberry might have been the original Patch city, the town news delivered to us on a small black and white screen before anyone dreamed of an internet. Fortunately, we live in a world now of larger screens and syndication.
Griffith also went on to create and star in Matlock. Still folksy and rural in a big city, Ben Matlock seemed to be Sheriff Andy Taylor with a law degree.
With as many lawyers as there are in this country, maybe they could all take little bit from Matlock.
But chances are, they already took a little bit from Andy Taylor.
All of us have.