We often don’t take the time on 8BitDad to talk about celebrity deaths, but we wanted to take a minute to think about Andy Griffith’s passing, and how it is especially relevant to us because of his most famous role: Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show.
Griffith’s character of Andy Taylor was a widower, raising a son (Opie, played by Ron Howard) on his own. In a time when television was obsessed with westerns and variety shows, The Andy Griffith Show stood as a family program that offered down-home country values…and genuine, honest fatherhood.
Coincidentally, 1960 was a big year for widowers on television: The Andy Griffith Show shared the air with My Three Sons, about widower Steve Douglas (played by Fred MacMurray) who raised three sons with the help of his father-in-law.
Both The Andy Griffith Show and My Three Sons were preceded by one year by 1959’s Bonanza – which depicted a family headed by three-time widower, Ben Cartwright (played by Lorne Greene). Almost one week ago, Don Grady, who played Robbie Douglas on My Three Sons died after a battle with cancer.
The Andy Griffith Show, meanwhile, struck a chord with fans because of the innocent and rural teachings of Andy Griffith. Everything was what we refer to as “the simple life,” and the fatherhood lessons ran deep enough for the character of Sheriff Andy Taylor to snag the number 8 spot on TV Guide’s 2004 list of “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.”
Goodbye to one of television’s most memorable and down-to-earth dads.
Coincidentally, if you haven’t listened my appearance on Bruce Sallan’s “A Dad’s Point of View” radio show, he mentions Andy Griffith in our talk about television dads (Part 3).
Also, check out Whit Honea’s goodbye to Andy Griffith on Babble’s Dadding.