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Ron Howard remembers TV icon Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith, America’s favorite sheriff, died on July 3. He was 86.

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I was 5 years old when I first met him, and I recall a very relaxed first impression. On the set of The Andy Griffith Show there was a fantastic equilibrium between his love of laughter and jokes and also him just being the utmost professional. He truly respected people. Years later, I remember I had some reservations before committing to an Andy Griffith Show reunion television movie. I was afraid some bubble was going to burst, because I had these great childhood memories of my time on the show. But I came away from that reunion experience with all my recollections reinforced, and all my positive feelings verified.

The best advice he ever gave me was after the show was over. I was seeking his counsel about something, and he said, ”Every decision you make is a career decision. You owe it to yourself to be thoughtful and think about how you want to use what you’ve learned and your talent.” I remember I was getting ready to do The Da Vinci Code. I’d never done a mystery before, and of course he had on Matlock. I called him up, and we talked about characters and red herrings and twists and turns. He loved telling stories about people, about how paradoxical they could be — he loved their foibles and their quirks. He celebrated that on Andy Griffith, and he appreciated it about people in life.

(As told to Erin Strecker) Andy Griffith Essentials
A Face in the Crowd (1957)

Elia Kazan directed Griffith in the actor’s breakout film, a dark, prescient drama about a drifting country boy who morphs into a powerful television host.

The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68)

On the indelible TV series, Griffith was Sheriff Andy Taylor, the father of young Opie (played by Howard) who watched over the idealized fictional town of Mayberry.

Matlock (1986-95)

Alongside hits like The Golden Girls and Murder, She Wrote, Griffith’s legal procedural about case-cracking Atlanta lawyer Ben Matlock capitalized on TV’s senior-citizen boom.

Waitress (2007)

One of Griffith’s final films was the Sundance darling in which he played a cantankerous diner owner who takes a shine to Keri Russell’s down-on-her-luck waitress.

Tanner Stransky