Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Griffith Represented Appalachia Well

Andy Griffith as Andy Taylor
Andy Griffith was the only person from Appalachia (Mt. Airy, N.C.) some people ever knew and when that was the case, it was a good thing. Griffith, who died yesterday at 86, was better representative of our culture than has been the Hollywood norm and for that, I'm grateful.

He burst on the scene in the mid 1950s with "No Time for Sergeants" as the kind of mountain bumpkin most understood hillbillies to be, but he rebounded in the underappreciated dramatic role "A Face in the Crowd" as a country singer whose fame goes to his head. He settled into "The Andy Griffith Show," a comedy with a dignified sheriff (Griffith) at its head. He was surrounded by silliness and backward characters, but he always had wisdom, intelligence and dignity as the Sheriff Andy Taylor and that's what we remember. It also became something of an Appalachian character, one we could appreciate.

Griffith was always a favorite of mine, whether playing a lawyer or a private eye or any of a number of other TV characters he did so well. But it was as a representative of an often misunderstood culture where he shined.

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