A Tribute to the late Andy Griffith

Shazam!  The folks at Abnormal Use are saddened to learn of the death of the great Andy Griffith, who played Sheriff Andy Taylor on the famed “The Andy Griffith Show,” on which he starred from 1960 to 1968. In addition to that role, Griffith starred in director Elia Kazan’s film, A Face in the Crowd (1957), and was nominated for a Tony award for his Broadway performance in “No Time for Sergeants.”  Griffith played the lead character in “Matlock,” a legal drama which aired on television from 1986 to 1995.  He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a bachelor of music degree in 1949.  In addition to his career as an actor, he was a Grammy Award-winning singer.  After Griffith left The Andy Griffith Show in 1968, he starred in many television films, playing the villain in “Murder in Coweta County.”  He also appeared as an attorney in the NBC mini-series “Fatal Vision” in 1984.  Many will also recall his comedy routine, “What It Was Was Football”.

In tribute to Griffith, we have prepared this obituary for Sheriff Taylor, his most famous character.

Sheriff Andy Taylor was a resident of Mayberry, North Carolina.  During his years as Sheriff of Mayberry, he was a widower and father to Opie Taylor, his son by his first wife.  He later had another son, Andrew Jackson Taylor, Jr., after he married Helen Crump.  Andy’s Aunt Bee was his housekeeper and helped raise Opie.  Andy enjoyed using his favorite fishing pole, “Eagle Eye Annie”, and even used the pole to barter with Mayor Roy Stoner to obtain a beautiful bed jacket for Aunt Bee’s birthday.  After dating for several years, Andy eventually married school teacher, Helen Crump.  Opie had previously referred to her as “Old Lady Crump” when she forced Opie and some of his school friends to memorize historical dates.  As a result, Opie and his friends formed a local club, The Mayberry Minutemen.  Andy later left Mayberry and was an agent for the State Bureau of Investigation.  He then retired as a postal inspector in Cleveland before returning to Mayberry.

Before marrying Miss Crump, Andy had several other girlfriends, including Ellie Walker, the “Lady Druggist”.  He also dated several nurses, including Mary Simpson and Peggy McMillan.  Helen was his true love and they shared many double dates with loyal deputy, Barney Fife, and his girlfriend, Thelma Lou.  They enjoyed picnics at Myers Lake and parking at the duck pond.  Mayberry residents still talk about the time Barney helped “rescue” Andy and Helen when they got trapped in the cave.

In addition to serving as Sheriff, Andy was also the Justice of the Peace.  Barney was his only deputy, unless Barney deputized some temporary help, including town drunk Otis Campbell, mechanic Gomer Pyle, and barber Floyd Lawson.  Andy also performed marriage ceremonies, including Charlene Darling and Dud Wash.  Before doing so, he had to deal with Ernest T. Bass and his rock-throwing tendencies.  After Barney took a job in Raleigh, Andy trained a new deputy, Warren Ferguson.

Sheriff Taylor usually did not wear a gun, although Barney always had his pistol and one bullet in his pocket.  When Barney bought a car from Mrs. “Hubcabs” Lesh, Andy helped Barney capture the scam artists who sold him the car.  It was one of the rare occasions Andy authorized Barney to actually put the bullet in his gun.

In addition to monitoring Barney’s attempts to arrest jaywalkers (especially Emma Watson), Andy’s law enforcement duties included chasing down the local moonshiners.  These included Rafe Hollister, who was discovered to have a talent for singing.  Barney helped Andy nab the Morrison sisters, who were making moonshine in their greenhouse.

Andy enjoyed playing his guitar and singing with Barney, or other local characters, including Jim Lindsey, who later played with Bobby Fleet and His Band with a Beat.  Andy also played the guitar with the Darling family when they came to town.  He liked playing checkers and hanging out at Floyd’s Barbershop.  He had a good relationship with local businessmen, including Emmett Clark (Emmett’s Fix-It-Shop), Orville Hendricks (undertaker and television repair), Charlie Foley (grocery store), and Wally, down at Wally’s Filling Station.

Andy was known throughout the community for his honesty and integrity, and for his good heart.  Andy allowed bootlegger Sam Muggins to celebrate Christmas in the jail over the objection of Ben Weaver.  He ate Aunt Bee’s homemade pickles even though they tasted like kerosene.  He helped a Mayberry resident prove that his bad luck was not a jinx.  When struggling door-to-door salesman, Bert Miller, was complaining of his sore shoulder, tired feet and the sound of ringing doorbells, Andy helped him stay in business against the strong-armed tactics of Ben Weaver.  Certainly, his kind treatment of Otis Campbell deserves special recognition.

The town of Mayberry and the State of North Carolina mourn the loss of one of its finest citizens.

“When a man carries a gun all the time, the respect he thinks he’s getting might really be fear.  So I don’t carry a gun because I don’t want the people of Mayberry to fear a gun. I’d rather they respect me.”

(Stuart Mauney previously memorialized actor George Lindsey, who played Goober Pyle on “The Andy Griffith Show,” on the occasion of his death earlier this year.).