Beloved TV companion Andy Griffith has passed away at the age of 86. Most of us will always remember Griffith for his portrayal of the sheriff of Mayberry, North Carolina where crimes are hard to come by. Or we may remember him as the savvy senior citizen detective on TV, Matlock.
But a few folks will also remember that Griffith was a political player for the Democratic Party in his home state of North Carolina and in ads defending Obamacare.
At the end of July in 2010 Andy Griffith was in an ad designed to reassure senior citizens that Obamacare would not adversely affect their medicare.
Griffith was not paid for the ad, according to Peter Ashkenaz, spokesman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. At the time, repeal of Obamacare was favored by 59 percent of voters.
The Obama administration spent $3,184,000 to air the ads and the Republicans, from what I can tell looking at old articles, went absolutely nuts over the expenditure of tax dollars and the ads.
There was enough backlash to bring down Griffith’s approval rating according to PPP (Did you know PPP tracked Andy Griffith’s approval rating in North Carolina?) “In PPP’s Aug. 27-29 poll of 724 likely North Carolina voters, Manteo resident and Democrat Griffith had support from 44 percent compared to the 22 percent who said they had an unfavorable opinion. Compare that to June of 2008 when 56 percent had a favorable opinion of Griffith compared to 9 percent unfavorable.” – source
Griffith also did endorsement ads and robocalls for the North Carolina Dem. Party’s Jim Hunt, Mike Easley and Senate leader Marc Basnight. In 1990 North Carolinians begged Griffith to run against Senator Jesse Helms but he declined. (sorry – couldn’t find any pictures of “Run, Andy Run” bumper stickers but I hear they were floating around in those days)
Here he is endorsing Mike Easley for Governor of NC
The ad ad rallied voters back to Easley’s side so rapidly in the final weeks of his campaign that the ad was dubbed “The Mayberry Miracle”.
Endorsing Bev Purdue for Governor of NC: “Oh, you’re going to be a goooood governor!”
(Wow – what an ad! I can just see my mom and dad voting for anybody that “Matlock” endorsed.)
And here’s an ad for Perdue with Griffith talking about whistling on his way to the lake.
By the way, there’s mention of a 2008 endorsement ad for Obama featuring both Ron Howard and Griffith but I can not locate it – seems to be wiped clean from the net.
Here’s a couple of videos I’ve enjoyed as I said good bye to Andy Griffiths today:
A sweet interview with both Don Knotts and Andy on the Today show.
[Man. I loved Don Knotts.]
Here’s that episode that Andy talks about in the interview – “Barney and the Choir”. The Andy Griffith show initially aired from 1960-1968 and has been broadcast on reruns ever since.
My parents really enjoyed watching Griffith play the detective Matlock. It may sound strange but I think he was constant proof for them that seniors could be classy, sassy and productive. And stars! The show Matlock ran from 1986 until 1995.
If you’d like to see the traditionally soft, friendly nature of Griffith turn twisted and diabolical, see Elia Kazan’s 1957 film “A Face In The Crowd”. This was Griffith’s professional debut. It got mixed reviews when it debuted but modern audiences give it a 93% approval rating on rotten tomatoes – that’s really impressive for the crowd at that site.
“When philosophical country/western singer Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes is “discovered” in the local lock-up by television talent coordinator Marcia Jeffries, she decided that Rhodes deserves a guest appearance on a TV variety show. The gangly, overly humble Rhodes is an instant sensation, and as he quickly ascends toward superstardom he attracts fans, sponsors and endorsement deals until he is the most powerful and influential entertainer on the airwaves. Beloved by his public audience, they would never believe that he has turned into a scheming, power-hungry manipulator with Machiavellian political aspirations. What Rhodes does not realize is that the higher the rise, the farther the fall; not only does he wind up losing his fame and fortune, but he also loses those who cared about him before his ego took control of his life.”
Andy Griffith would continue to occasionally seek relief from playing the friendly good guy type.
From wikipedia: “in the television film Crime of Innocence (1985) ..he portrayed a callous judge who routinely sentenced juveniles to hard prison time. He further stunned audiences with his role as a dangerous and mysterious grandfather in 1995′s Gramps, co-starring the late John Ritter. He also appeared as a comical villain in the spy movie spoof Spy Hard (1996) starring Leslie Nielsen. In the television film A Holiday Romance (1999), Griffith played the role of “Jake Peterson.” In the film Daddy and Them (2001), Griffith portrayed a patriarch of a dysfunctional southern family.
In the feature film Waitress (2007), Griffith played a crusty diner owner who takes a shine to Keri Russell’s character. His last appearance was the leading role in the romantic comedy, independent film Play The Game (2009) as a lonely, widowed grandfather re-entering the dating world after a 60-year hiatus.”
One last note for the potential traveler and Mayberry fan:
Andy Griffith was born in Mount Airy, NC. The town will celebrate Mayberry Days September 27-30 this year, and of course there is an Andy Griffiths museum to check out there.