Though his original intention was to become a preacher, Andy Griffith switched over to acting in the 1940s. He became a well-known in the mid-'50s when he released a comedy record called What It Was- Was Football in which he described the game from the point of view of someone who had never heard of it. Griffith played a cynical southerner in the feature film A Face in the Crowd
, where he added a smarter edge to his image. His naive southern character was revived a couple of years later for his role in the classic No Time for Sergeants
, which seems to have served as the inspiration for the character, Gomer Pyle.
The Andy Griffith Show
kept Andy busy for most of the '60s. Following the series, he appeared in a long list of TV movies in the '70s and '80s. In 1983 Griffith fell ill with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an affliction of the nervous system that kept him from working for a few years. In 1986, fully recovered, Griffith took on his second-most-famous role, southern lawyer Ben Matlock. Matlock
ran as a series and then a string of TV movies throughout the '90s.
Mayberry's sheriff Andy Taylor is the town's moral compass. He always attempts to maintain his cool while dealing with the antics of his Deputy Barney Fife and the other characters in town. The widowed father of Opie became subtler over the years, wiser and more introspective. Of course he continued to throw out great barbs and zingers, but he became sager and provided a stable anchor for the wacky and colorful members of his community. A contented bachelor, Andy dates from time to time, and ultimately marries schoolteacher Helen Crump.