Andy Griffith never won a single Emmy, and his only nomination was for the 1981 telepic “Murder in Texas.” Yet it’s hard not to feel his loss today is a severe one, regardless of the awards circuit’s inability to recognize him.
In October 2010, for the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “The Andy Griffith Show,” Lawrence Christon wrote an appreciation for Variety entitled “Andy Griffith: TV’s conscience.”
All happy showbiz careers, to paraphrase Tolstoy, are not alike. Especially when, like Andy Griffith, you’ve successfully scaled five different rock faces to achieve the rarefied peak that earns you a 2005 Presidential Medal of Freedom.
As standup comedian, Griffith convulsed the nation in his 1953 monologue “What It Was, Was Football,” in which he introduced a new voice to the comedic landscape: wry, shrewd, disarming and satirical. His role in “No Time for Sergeants” was a TV and movie hit; when he took it to Broadway in 1955, it broke the magic ceiling of 500-700 runs by playing 796 performances.
He came back a year later to play the lead in “Destry Rides Again,” which ran for more than a year, earning him a Tony nom. As a country gospel singer (Griffith has a B.A. in music from the U. of North Carolina), his 1996 album “I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns” went platinum and earned him a Grammy.
Griffith’s popular TV detective series “Matlock” ran first on NBC in 1986 and then on ABC in ’92, ending in ’95 only after Griffith called it quits.
But the two landmark works of his career, one prophetic and the other a perennial frontrunner in the sitcom world, were Elia Kazan’s “A Face in the Crowd” and, of course, “The Andy Griffith Show.” …