Ward Cleaver never had to deal with the real issues of raising kids. Wall and “The Beav” never gave him much trouble at all. Cliff Huxtable, on the other hand, raised his brood during a time of drugs and sex and who knows what all. Both of those TV dads graded out pretty high on the scale.
But for teachin’ a young ’un about life and death and right and wrong, how could anyone be better than Andy Taylor? As we watched Opie turn from a child into, well, Ron Howard, it was Andy’s steadfast, honest, devotion that taught us as many lessons as it did his play-acting son.
Andy Taylor, we mean, Andy Griffith died Tuesday. He was 86.
For a couple generations, Taylor’s portrayal of the Southern sheriff in Mayberry was the gold standard for parenting. His was also the bar we adults tried to reach as people.
Of course, Griffith wasn’t a one-show pony. He got his start way before putting on that badge. He was a serious stage actor and played dark, ugly roles before he would team up with lifelong TV-mate Don Knotts, first on the big screen and later on “The Andy Griffith Show.”
A generation younger than us might know Griffith just as much for his crime-solving attorney work as “Matlock,” again, a role in which he used good, old-fashioned values to bring criminals to justice.
“Values” might mean a lot of things in the political arena, but how could anyone argue that some of Griffith’s characters showed us exactly the values that would benefit us all?
The best part about Griffith’s career and life? (And don’t spoil this for us in case we missed something along the way.) We don’t recall a single scandal or stain on his character throughout his career, which spanned decades. Oh, there was always that he and “Aunt Bea” weren’t the best of friends, but we’ll call that a family spat.
While Griffith’s signature characters taught us about ourselves, many of them made us laugh out loud. If you’ve not seen the movie “No Time for Sergeants,” do yourself a favor. Pal Don Knotts was at his best, too.
Griffith’s straight man to Knotts’ comedic genius in “The Andy Griffith Show” stands on its own today, like “The Honeymooners” or “I Love Lucy.” Timeless classics.
Our world lost a great actor and person Tuesday. But there’s gotta be a bit more laughing and “remember that time ...” in Heaven today.