Legendary actor Andy Griffith passed away this morning at the age of 86. He was best known as the star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, two long-running series that served as bookends to his television career. Griffith was especially fond of the latter, saying in a 2008 profile, “Matlock put me back in the business. I liked, particularly, that Ben Matlock was a smart Southerner. Not a rube.” For his contributions he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, alongside Muhammad Ali and Aretha Franklin.
While much of the work he did was before my time, or around my time but aimed at an older demographic (Comcast’s description of Matlock begins with “Grandpa Simpson’s favorite show”), I always liked Andy Griffith. It was hard not to. The two iconic characters he played were both folksy, jovial figures who served as the calming voice of reason as things spun out of control around them, and he was generally regarded as one of the kindest people in show business. Considering the amount of time we spend here discussing people like Charlie Sheen and shows that exploit children for profit, it’s nice to remember that you can also have a long successful career by being nice to people, both on-screen and off. We lost a good one today.
Rest in peace.