Above: "It looks like an ordinary little town, but it has a little border of insanity."
- Wise words from a real Sheriff Andy - George Pyle, The Salt Lake Tribune
That giant black telephone — with a dial, a cord and a label that said it was the property of American Telephone & Telegraph — would sometimes ring at my house, summoning us to a call from some doofus who would say, "Is Gomer there?" laugh, as if he were the first person to ever be so clever, and hang up.
It offended me deeply. How dare somebody make fun of something as personal as my family name?
But my father, though he had a life-long enmity toward telemarketers, took it calmly. He even liked to watch "Cousin Gomer," as he smilingly called him, first on "The Andy Griffith Show," then on the spin-off "Gomer Pyle, USMC." He giggled at the character’s confusions and his earnest beliefs in quaint sayings and folk remedies handed down to him from "Grandma Pyle."
I protested. My father was a very smart man. College educated, at a time and place when most people weren’t. Very well read. Made his living as a public administrator, which meant being smart. And he took great pride in the intelligence of his children, at least as far as such a thing can be measured by good grades in school. How could he stand to watch such a fool, especially when his name was a basic part of the joke?
Oh, calm down, my father said for about the thousandth time in my childhood. "Gomer’s a good soul."
And, truly, he was. Not worldly. Not clever. Not inventive. But, and this was much more important, not mean. Not deceitful. Not trying to take advantage or push anyone around. (And, one might think, not particularly well suited to storming enemy-held beaches. But that, too, is part of the joke.)
In defending Pvt. Pyle’s right to be himself, and not be looked down on, my father was less a Gomer than an Andy. [Read the rest ...]
Apparently, I'm not the only one who was thinking of his father this week:
- That was good TV; couldn't we still have it? - Jay Ambrose, Scripps Howard News Service/Minneapolis Star-Tribune
One reason I always liked Andy Griffith is that a character he played seemed in some ways like my father. Raised on a poor Kentucky farm in the early 20th century, Carl Ambrose always had a twinkle in his eye, humor in his soul and a friendliness that reached out to everyone. There was shrewdness in him at the same time, and the Andy we saw in his best-known TV show was no one's fool, either. ...
- Andy Griffith's two faces, both of them America's - Patt Morrison, The Los Angeles Times
... another movie made in 1957. Its star was Andy Griffith, not the genial Mayberry Andy Griffith, but a grinning incarnation of evil and ego. He was simply, harrowingly brilliant. ...
... "A Face in the Crowd" is screenwriter Budd Schulberg’s extraordinary film about "Lonesome" Rhodes, an overnight-successful radio and TV buffoon, a sinister and narcissistic megalomaniac behind his hayseed grin, a type that owes something to the tyrannical Father Coughlin, the fascistic radio priest of the 1930s. It’s also a type that presaged (and here comes a mock-fancy Americanism that Abraham Lincoln heard uttered onstage just seconds before he was shot) the "sockdologizing" talk-show gasbags of today, of the sort Stephen Colbert sends up so well.
"I’m not just an entertainer," Griffith’s character rants. "I’m an influence … a wielder of opinion ... a force – a FORCE!" In another scene, he rhapsodizes about his slavishly worshipful millions of fans: "They’re mine. I own 'em. They think like I do. But they’re even more stupid than I am. So I gotta think for 'em!" And, he threatened, "if the president tries to stop me, I’ll flood the White House with millions of telegrams!"
"Lonesome" Rhodes makes Elmer Gantry look like Mr. Rogers. ...
- Andy Griffith and the acting roads not taken - Lawrence Toppman, The Charlotte (N.C.) Obserer
Andy Griffith died on July 3, admired by almost every one of his fellow North Carolinians – myself included.
But a big part of him died on Oct. 3, 1960.
That was the day "The Andy Griffith Show" aired for the first time. A down-home star whose popularity would endure for more than half a century was born. And a potentially terrific actor, one who could have played memorable movie roles for the next 40 years, passed away. ...
... In the idealized small town of Mayberry, reminiscent of Griffith’s own Mount Airy, N.C., hometown, not much happened. When "The Andy Griffith Show" made its television debut in fall of 1960, of course, history-making change roiled the actor’s own North Carolina, with the image of Southern sheriff a ways off from Andy Taylor’s folksy friendliness.
Earlier that same year, four students from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro challenged segregation with the first sit-in, at a F.W. Woolworth lunch counter.
Mixing rose-colored fiction and real life, it would be nice to think Floyd the barber would have given those nice young men a shave and a haircut in Mayberry.
But not even Griffith believed that. A former colleague told me about a call back from Griffith to answer a question on race that he had stumbled on in an interview; it was about his decision to skirt that particular lesson in "The Andy Griffith Show." It would have been the one thing Sheriff Andy could not have solved in a half-hour, he figured, so he left it alone...
- Be The Fearless Sheriff Of Your Own Mayberry - Ree Varcoe, The Huffington Post
Never fear, because everything really will work out ...
- If Andy ran in Mayberry today: Big money could crush his hopes of being sheriff - Kathy M. Newman, for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Loss of Andy Griffith like a death in family - Bill Brioux, Canadian Press/Calgary Herald
- Andy Griffith: A Well-Spent Life - Chet Flippo, CMT.com
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