LIFESTYLE

Andy Griffith Survived Many Life Challenges And Still Remains A Hollywood Legend

Date June 15, 2018

For more than 50 years, Andy Griffith shared his incredible talent with the world through his music, movies, and TV shows. Well before The Andy Griffith Show where he played a small town Sherriff, Griffith was already popular in Hollywood for starring in Elia Kazan’s film A Face in the Crowd.

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The 1960’s were perhaps the highlight of his career, particularly due to his role as Andy Taylor. In 1968, the show made Number 1 on the Nielson ratings for the first time since it began showing on CBS. Consequently, the show earned spinoffs and remained on TV for several years.

© The Andy Griffith Show / CBS

Before he became a name on television, Griffith tried his hands at comedic performances. He once made about 500 impressions of a monologue titled “What It Was, Was Football” that went on to become a hit on radio in the 1950’s.

His real break came in 1955 on Broadway when he was cast as a mountain yokel in No Time for Sergeants. The play was so successful, it ran for two years and eventually got made into a film in 1958.

© The Andy Griffith Show / CBS

While he was wildly successful on television and in the span of his career, his life away from the cameras was far from pleasant. He was born in Mount Airy, NC, in 1926, and lived a hard life at the start as his family was not well-off.

Daniel de Visé, author of Andy & Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show, told Closer that Griffith was bullied a lot as a child. This was because his parents eventually became comfortable enough to dress him in good clean clothes, unlike most of his peers at the time.

A lot of the kids were not well-dressed, and there was a perception that Andy was a mama’s boy, so he got bullied a lot.

© The Andy Griffith Show / CBS

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He eventually took to acting as a way to redirect his anger. He married Barbara Bray Edwards in 1949, soon after he graduated from University of North Carolina. But their marriage was troubled by alcoholism, as de Vise said.

Barbara had a drinking problem, and Andy drank a lot. ... He and Barbara squabbled, and Andy had other relationships.

He got a divorce from Barbara in 1972 and married Solica Cassuto who he also divorced in 1981. Eventually, he found love again with dancer Cindi Knight, and they were married in 1983. But the very same year, he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a nervous disorder that affects the extremities and causes great pain.

Despite his condition, he remained optimistic about life and continued to pursue his career on television. He took on the role of Atlanta attorney Ben Matlock in Matlock in 1986. The show ran for nine seasons and was a runaway success.

© Matlock (1986) / Dean Hargrove Productions

In 1996, he lost his adopted son, Andy Griffith Jr., who fought and lost a personal battle with alcoholism.

Dixie Griffith, daughter of Andy Griffith, said the death of her brother affected their father a lot.

It affected my dad on a very, very deep level. I went to my brother’s funeral service, but my dad wasn’t able to go. There would be too many magazines and cameras, and it just wasn’t a good place for him to be.

© Matlock (1986) / Dean Hargrove Productions

Eventually, Griffith suffered a heart attack in 2012 and died in his North Carolina home at 86. He was one of the most celebrated southerners on television for decades and was well respected not just by his peers but by other celebrities and fans alike.

His wife Cindi, while reflecting on her late husband, said that despite his troubled life, Griffith still had faith in God and it was a big motivation to him.

Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord.

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Despite all the troubles he experienced, he left behind a legacy that has earned him a place among the stars.

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