Wednesday, July 4, 2012

We mourn the passing of Andy Griffith, all he stood for

Andy Griffith, Tony Award-nominated and Emmy A...Andy Griffith, Tony Award-nominated and Emmy Award-nominated American actor, producer, writer, director and Grammy Award-winning southern gospel singer. Image taken as President George W. Bush presents him the Presidential Medal of Freedom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I do believe the entire country is mourning the loss of television icon Andy Griffith, who died yesterday. 

Andy Griffith was an entertainer for the ages. Generations enjoyed his work, but in my mind, there was none so important as his portrayal of Andy Taylor of Mayberry. There is no need to describe this role because anyone who ever owned a television set knows exactly who Andy Taylor was. Talk about a character-defining role...Many actors shy away from roles that define them, but I suspect Andy Griffith embraced his. 

The Andy Griffith Show was the macaroni and cheese of television. It brought comfort to the souls of generations. 

When we watched it as children, it was a learning experience. With what Andy's calming ways and common-sense solutions to everyday problems each episode was enlightening, inspiring, and always taught us a thing or two about life. Each story had purpose.  

The moral character of our generation was reflected in Andy's good nature. Even when he made fun, it was never with malice. It was never painful to anyone. 

The seriousness of the show was perfectly balanced with genuine humor. Rarely was anything as funny as the interaction between Andy and Barney, perfectly played by the late Don Knotts. Andy's interaction with his son, Opey, expertly played by by the incomparable Ron Howard was sweet, yet stern. It was so clear how Andy admired and adored the woman who took such good care of him, his Aunt Bee, played by the late Francis Bavier. 

Either Andy Griffith was either the world's best actor or he brought much of himself to the role he played. I suspect a little of both. 

So many of us who watched the Andy Griffith Show as children and young adults must admit that while channel-surfing today, if we come across the show we loved so much, we pause, often watching it again. We know the episodes by heart; we have seen the scenes so many times before, yet we continue to watch. It just makes us feel good. There is so much to be said for that kind of repetitive comfort. 

Andy Griffith represented to so many of us, not just a great television experience, but we took it so to heart. We expected the world around us to be like living in Mayberry, the mythical town that represented an ideal small community. It was always disappointing to learn that the world in which we live is just not like that. The passing of Andy Griffith magnifies that disappointment. We now know the world will never be like Mayberry. With Andy no longer living, a little hope for that dies too.

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