At first intending to become a minister, actor/monologist Andy Griffith (born June 1st, 1926) became active with the Carolina Playmakers, the prestigious drama-and-music adjunct of the University of North Carolina--Chapel Hill. He spent several seasons portraying Sir Walter Raleigh in the summertime outdoor drama The Lost Colony, spending the rest of the years as a schoolteacher. Griffith continued performing fitfully as an after-dinner speaker on the men's club circuit, developing hilariously bucolic routines on subjects ranging from Shakespeare to football. Under the aegis of agent/producer Richard O. Linke, Griffith returned to acting, attaining stardom in the role of bumptious Air Force rookie Will Stockdale in the TV and Broadway productions of [[Feature~V35552~No Time For Sergeants~notimeforsergeants]]. Before committing [[Feature~V109504~Sergeants~sergeants3]] to film, Griffith made his movie debut in director Elia Kazan's [[Feature~V16535~A Face in the Crowd~afaceinthecrowd]], in which he portrayed an outwardly folksy but inwardly vicious TV personality (patterned, some say, after Arthur Godfrey).
After filming [[Feature~V16535~Face in the Crowd~afaceinthecrowd]], No Time for Sergeants and [[Feature~V82237~Onionhead~onionhead]] for Warner Bros. during the years 1957 and 1958, Griffith starred in a 1959 Broadway musical version of Destry Rides Again; as an added source of income, Griffith ran a North Carolina supermarket. On February 15, 1960 he first appeared as Andy Taylor, the laid-back sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina, on an episode of The Danny Thomas Show. This one-shot was of course the pilot film for the Emmy-winning The Andy Griffith Show, in which Griffith starred from 1960 through 1968. Eternally easygoing on camera, Griffith, who owned 50% of the series, ruled his sitcom set with an iron hand, though he was never as hard on the other actors as he was on himself; to this day, he remains close to fellow Griffith stars Don Knotts and Ron Howard. An unsuccessful return to films with 1969's [[Feature~V83712~Angel in My Pocket~angelinmypocket]] was followed by an equally unsuccessful 1970 TV series [[Feature~V94525~Headmaster~headmaster]]. For the next 15 years, Griffith confined himself to guest-star appearances, often surprising his fans by accepting cold-blooded villainous roles. In 1985, he made a triumphal return to series television in Matlock, playing a folksy but very crafty Southern defense attorney. A life-threatening disease known as Gillian-Barre syndrome curtailed his activities in the late 1980s, but as of 1995 Andy Griffith was still raking in the ratings with his infrequent Matlock two-hour specials. The actor worked on and off throughout the late nineties and early 2000s, and co-starred with Keri Russell and Nathan Fillion in the romantic comedy Waitress in 2007. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi