The man who played a country lawyer on TV in the 80s and 90s, but who was best known as a small-town sheriff in the 60s, died early this morning at his home on Roanoake Island, North Carolina. He was 86.
It was on the show that bore his name that Griffith made his mark on American culture, as the sheriff (and justice of the peace, remember?) of Mayberry, North Carolina, a fictional town said to be based on his own boyhood home of Mount Airy, also in North Carolina. The characters who were the staple of American small town life, the folks who lived "up in them hills," and the unsentimental homespun wisdom he shared with his son, Opie (played by now-producer/director Ron Howard), were among the things that made it to the short list of viewable fare in the Alexander household back in the day.
There will be many tributes to Griffith in the days to come, and so many old clips from which to choose. It is a little known fact, that the instrumental theme song whistled at the beginning of every episode, composed by Earle Hagen (the whistler) and Herbert Spencer, actually had lyrics written by Everett Sloane. We leave you with Andy singing them here.
Hey, Andy ... rest in peace, ya hear?