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Andy Griffith, dead at 86
WE THOUGHT of him as a lovable, easygoing country boy, but actor Andy Griffith was a far more complex human being than we ever imagined. When he died on Tuesday at his North Carolina home at the age of 86, Mr. Griffith left behind a long and varied career and a lot of fans.
A graduate of the University of North Carolina, Mr. Griffith got his start playing a bit role in "The Lost Colony," the Roanoke Island, N.C., play still performed today. His first stand-up routine, a monologue called "What It Was, Was Football," launched his country bumpkin persona.
But his was a multifaceted talent: He starred as a rube on Broadway in "No Time for Sergeants," then played a macabre megalomaniac in the film "A Face in the Crowd." He was already a star when "The Andy Griffith Show" brought Sheriff Andy Taylor, Opie, Aunt Bee, and Deputy Barney Fife into the nation's living rooms in 1960. The beloved show ran for just eight years, yet its popularity endures.
When Mr. Griffith thought Mayberry might be growing old, he moved on. By 1986, he had landed another long-running hit series, "Matlock." He also recorded gospel albums. The simple North Carolina country boy, over his long career, wooed and won a worldwide, multigenerational cadre of fans.