Actor, director Andy Griffith dies at 86

Published: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 10:07 AM
Updated: Tuesday, July 03, 2012 @ 12:29 PM

 

 

Andy Griffith, who made homespun Southern wisdom his trademark as the wise sheriff in "The Andy Griffith Show" and the rumpled defense lawyer in "Matlock," died Tuesday. He was 86.

Griffith died about 7 a.m. at his coastal home in Manteo, Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie said in a statement. The family will release further information, Doughtie said.

He had suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2000.

Griffith's career spanned more than a half-century on stage, film and television, but he would always be best known as Sheriff Andy Taylor in the television show set in a North Carolina town not too different from Griffith's own hometown of Mount Airy, N.C.

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Griffith set the show in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., where Sheriff Taylor was the dutiful nephew who ate pickles that tasted like kerosene because they were made by his loving Aunt Bee, played by the late Frances Bavier. He was a widowed father who offered gentle guidance to son Opie, played by Ron Howard, who grew up to become the Oscar-winning director of "A Beautiful Mind."

Knotts was the goofy Deputy Barney Fife, while Jim Nabors joined the show as Gomer Pyle, the unworldly, lovable gas pumper.

On "Matlock," which aired from 1986 through 1995, Griffith played a cagey Harvard-educated defense attorney who was Southern-bred and -mannered with a practice in Atlanta.

In his rumpled seersucker suit in a steamy courtroom (air conditioning would have spoiled the mood), Matlock could toy with a witness and tease out a confession like a folksy Perry Mason.

The character — law-abiding, fatherly and lovable — was much like Sheriff Andy Taylor with silver hair and a shingle.

In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Griffith said "The Andy Griffith Show," which initially aired from 1960 to 1968, was seen somewhere in the world every day. A reunion movie, "Return to Mayberry," was the top-rated TV movie of the 1985-86 season.

"The Andy Griffith Show" was a loving portrait of the town where few grew up but many wished they did — a place where all foibles are forgiven and friendships are forever. Villains came through town and moved on, usually changed by their stay in Mayberry. That was all a credit to Griffith, said Craig Fincannon, who met Griffith in 1974.

"I see so many TV shows about the South where the creative powers behind it have no life experience in the South," Fincannon said. "What made 'The Andy Griffith Show' work was Andy Griffith himself — the fact that he was of this dirt and had such deep respect for the people and places of his childhood. A character might be broadly eccentric, but the character had an ethical and moral base that allowed us to laugh with them and not at them. And Andy Griffith's the reason for that."

Griffith's career included stints on Broadway, notably "No Time for Sergeants"; movies such as Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd"; and records. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country's highest civilian honors.

"The Andy Griffith Show" was one of only three series in TV history to bow out at the top of the ratings. (The others were "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld.") Griffith said he decided to end it "because I thought it was slipping, and I didn't want it to go down further."

When asked in 2007 to name his favorite episodes, the ones atop Griffith's list were the shows that emphasized Knotts' character. Griffith and Knotts had become friends while performing in "No Time for Sergeants," and remained so until Knotts' death in 2006 at 81.

"The second episode that we shot, I knew Don should be funny and I should play straight for him," Griffith said. "That opened up the whole series because I could play straight for everybody else. And I didn't have to be funny. I just let them be funny."

Letting others get the laughs was something of a role reversal for Griffith, whose career took off after he recorded the comedic monologue "What It Was, Was Football."

That led to his first national television exposure on "The Ed Sullivan Show" in 1954, and the stage and screen versions as the bumbling draftee in "No Time for Sergeants."

In the drama "A Face in the Crowd," he starred as Larry "Lonesome" Rhodes, a local jailbird and amateur singer who becomes a homespun philosopher on national television. As his influence rises, his drinking, womanizing and lust for power are hidden by his handlers.

"Mr. Griffith plays him with thunderous vigor," The New York Times wrote. Said The Washington Post: "He seems to have one of those personalities that sets film blazing."

Griffith said Kazan led him through his role, and it was all a bit overwhelming for someone with, as he put it, just "one little acting course in college."

"He would call me in the morning into his little office there, and he'd tell me all the colors that he wanted to see from my character that day," he recalled in 2007.

"Lonesome Rhodes had wild mood swings. He'd be very happy, he'd be very said, he'd be very angry, very depressed," he said. "And I had to pull all of these emotions out of myself. And it wasn't easy."

His role as Sheriff Taylor seemingly obliterated Hollywood's memory of Griffith as a bad guy. But then, after that show ended, he found roles scarce until he landed a bad-guy role in "Pray for the Wildcats."

Hollywood's memory bank dried up again, he said. "I couldn't get anything but heavies. It's funny how that town is out there. They see you one way."

More recently, Griffith won a Grammy in 1997 for his album of gospel music "I Love to Tell the Story — 25 Timeless Hymns."

In 2007, he appeared in the independent film "Waitress," playing the boss at the diner. The next year, he appeared in Brad Paisley's awarding-winning music video "Waitin' on a Woman."

Griffith was born in 1926 in Mount Airy and as a child sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. He studied at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and for a time contemplated a career in the ministry. But he eventually got a job teaching high school music in Goldsboro.

His acting career began with the role of Sir Walter Raleigh in Paul Green's outdoor pageant, "The Lost Colony," in Manteo. And he remained in the area even after superstardom knocked at his door.

Griffith protected his privacy by building a circle of friends who revealed little to nothing about him. Strangers who asked where Griffith lived in Manteo would receive circular directions that took them to the beach, said William Ivey Long, the Tony Award-winning costume designer whose parents were friends with Griffith and his first wife, Barbara.

Griffith helped Long's father build the house where the family lived in a community of bohemian artists with little money, sharing quart jars of homemade vegetable soup with each other.

Both Long and Fincannon recalled Griffith's sneaky tendency to show up unexpectedly — sneaking into the choir at "The Lost Colony," or driving the grand marshals of the local Christmas parade incognito in his 1932 roadster convertible.

Fincannon described Griffith as the symbol of North Carolina, a role that "put heavy pressure on him because everyone felt like he was their best friend. With great grace, he handled the constant barrage of people wanting to talk to Andy Taylor."

He and his first wife, Barbara Edwards, had two children, Sam, who died in 1996, and Dixie. His second wife was Solica Cassuto. Both marriages ended in divorce. He married his third wife, Cindi Knight Griffith, in 1983.

"She and I are not only married, we're partners," Griffith said in 2007. "And she helps me very much with everything."

When asked if the real Griffith was more wise like Sheriff Taylor or cranky like Joe, the diner owner in "Waitress," Griffith said he was a bit of both, and then some.

"I'm not really wise. But I can be cranky," he said. "I can be a lot like Joe. But I'm lot like Andy Taylor, too. And I'm some Lonesome Rhodes."

 

Greg Gianforte wins special election in Montana

Published: Friday, May 26, 2017 @ 1:48 AM

Greg Gianforte was the winner in Thursday's congressional election in Montana.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican Greg Gianforte won the special election for Montana's open U.S. House seat Thursday night and apologized to the reporter who accused the Republican of “body-slamming” him, CNN reported.

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With 84 percent of precincts reporting, Gianforte had earned 50.8 percent of the vote to lead Democrat Rob Quist, who polled 43.8 percent, CNN reported, citing Edison Research.

In his acceptance speech, Gianforte apologized by name to Ben Jacobs, the Guardian reporter who made the accusation after an altercation on Wednesday. The Gallatin County Sheriff's office later charged Gianforte with misdemeanor assault, CNN reported.

"When you make a mistake, you have to own up to it," Gianforte told his supporters at his election night rally in Bozeman. "That's the Montana way."

Saying he was "not proud" of his behavior, he added, "I should not have responded the way I did. For that I'm sorry. I should not have treated that reporter that way, and for that I'm sorry, Mr. Ben Jacobs."

Members of the supportive crowd shouted, "You're forgiven."

Gianforte, a technology entrepreneur, was considered the favorite heading into Thursday’s election to fill the seat once held by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, but his scuffle with Jacobs raised questions about the outcome.

Democrats had hoped Quist, a Montana folk singer and first-time candidate, could have capitalized on a wave of activism following President Donald Trump's election.

Memorial Day 2017: Should you buy it or should you wait? Here are some shopping tips

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 12:25 PM

It’s nearly summer and the urge to get out and spend can be strong.

Before you head out on a shopping spree, FatWallet.com, he website that directs consumers to daily deals and saving opportunities, has a few suggestions for you.

If you are looking for that perfect pair of shorts, this is a great time to shop. On the other hand, if you want a new laptop, you may want to wait a bit. 

FatWallet.com offers these shopping tips for the Memorial Day weekend:  

Summer ClothingBUY – The kick-off of summer clothing retail season, some 34% of Memorial Day shoppers buy clothes and another 21 percent buy shoes as dozens of site-wide discounts from top retailers, including 20-50 percent off shorts, tanks, sandals and swimwear, swarm the best deals of the weekend. Be sure to utilize cash back from Ebates to add significant savings to your summer thread purchases!

MattressesBUY - 36 million mattresses are shipped each year. Traditionally, there is no better time to buy a mattress, or mattress sets, than during Memorial Day sales when all specialty sleep, furniture and department store retailers offer their biggest savings and brand selection of the year.

AppliancesBUY and WAIT – More than 62 million major appliances shipped in the U.S. in 2016. Home improvement stores like Home Depot, Sears and Lowe’s will feature Memorial Day deals with up to 50 percent off refrigerators, ranges, washers and dryers, etc. that rival their Black Friday prices.

LaptopsWAIT – Like TVs, there are always one-off sales for laptops, especially older models. While a healthy 12 percent will look for deals on electronics during Memorial Day sales, the best time to buy a new laptop is during Back to School sales in July, or on Black Friday when selection and prices on MacBooks, touchscreen laptops and 2-in-1 hybrid tablet/laptops can drop as much as 50 percent.

Patio Furniture / GrillsBUY and WAIT – A growing industry with $8 billion in sales, spring discounting on patio furniture and grills hit its peak during Memorial Day weekend. Prices go back up in June until summer clearance in the fall when these items are cheapest, but are also ready for storage.

Lawn & Garden SuppliesBUY – As annual retail sales eclipse $6 billion, May brings sweeping spring sales on lawn and gardening supplies that ramp up to Memorial Day. Holiday deals offer some of the best seasonal discounts on mulch, soil, plant food, fertilizers, pesticides and grass seed.

Power ToolsWAIT – A recent survey reports Father’s Day is the best time to buy tools, and 1 in 10 buy them as gifts for dads. Although some tool deals in May offer good savings, especially for outdoor power equipment, waiting until June offers a better over-all selection of savings options that can rival Black Friday tool deals.

Summer TravelBUY – While only 11 percent name Memorial Day as the best time for summer travel, the holiday signals urgency for securing summer vacation bookings. With 81 percent regularly go on vacations and 25 percent multiple times a year (survey), online travel sites like Expedia, Priceline, Orbitz and hotels.com compete to feature their best offers on airfare and hotel deals, cruise deals and car rental coupons for Memorial Day shoppers.

Memorial Day 2017: Macy’s, Best Buy, Kohls and others deals  and sales

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 10:54 AM

Memorial Day, the day set aside to honor those who died in military service to the United States, is Monday.

The practice of taking a day to honor the war dead began after the Civil War. More than 100 years later, “Decoration Day” became an official federal holiday known as Memorial Day in 1971.

The day also marks the unofficial start of summer, and retailers are offering those first summer sales. 

Memorial Day ads

Here are links to some in-store and online retail ads. (Click on the store name to see the ads and their expiration dates).

Amazon.com

Belk

Best Buy

Big Lots

Home Depot

J.C. Penney

Kmart

Kohl’s

Lowes

Macy's

Michael's

Rooms to Go

Sam's Club

Sears

Starbucks

Stein Mart

Target

Walmart

Good deals

Here are a few deals available to shoppers during the Memorial Day weekend:

Amazon - Up to 70 percent off select items

Best Buy - Up to 50 percent off phone cases and screen protectors 

Bed Bath and Beyond – 20 percent off one item in-store

Columbia – 25 percent off select items

Dick’s - Up to 50 percent off select outdoor equipment

Gymboree - Entire store is $12.99 and under

Home Depot - Up to 15 percent off grills and smokers

JCPenney -- Take 40 percent off appliances

Kmart – Up to 50 percent off select patio furniture, plus other deals

Kohls - 12' x 30 Steel Pro Pool - $149.99 

Lowe's - 30 percent off appliances

Macy's – 20 percent off Memorial Day sale, plus free shipping at $49

Old Navy - Up to 50 percent off tees, shorts and active wear

Pier 1 Imports - Desk chairs on sale - $44.98

Rack Room -- Buy one, get one free for sandals

Sam’s Club - Night Therapy 12" Classic Green Tea memory foam full mattress and bi-fold box springs. - $299 w/free shipping

Sears -- Up to 40 percent off appliances 

Target - Stok Drum Charcoal Grill - $99

Walmart - Costway 4 PC Patio Rattan Wicker Chair Sofa Table Set - $199.98 

Drug counselors overdose at halfway house, recovering addicts find them  

Published: Thursday, May 25, 2017 @ 12:47 PM

Pennsylvania authorities are investigating the deaths of two drug counselors at a halfway house in Chester County in metro Philadelphia in apparent separate heroin overdoses.

>> Read more trending news

The men were found unresponsive in separate bedrooms at the Freedom Ridge Recovery Lodge by recovering residents at the group home on Sunday, according to WFMZ TV.

The residents tried to revive one of the counselors with the opioid antidote naloxone, but it didn’t work.

Authorities found small baggies of heroin and used needles near the bodies of both victims, CNN reported.

The counselor’s jobs included planning daily activities for the six recovering addicts at the center and supervising medication for the recovering addicts.

An investigation into the deaths is underway.

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