Andy Griffith first started his career as a monologist. He gave us such stories as What it Was, Was Football. This was the story of a backwoodsman trying to figure out what was going on in a game of football. The single was released in 1953 and the monologue was a big success for Andy, it reached the number nine position on the United States of America charts in 1954.
Andy Griffith then went on to star in a one hour teleplay of No Time for Sergeants in March 1955. This was the story of a country boy in the United States of America Air Force. Andy went on to star in The United States Steel Hour, a television anthology series. He was able to expand that role in a theatrical version on Broadway in New York. Andy was also in the 1957 musical Destry Rides Again, which ran on Broadway for more than a year.
Andy made a film version of No Time for Sergeants in 1958. The film also featured comedian Don Knotts. This was the beginning of a lifelong association between the two comedians. No Time for Sergeants has been directly linked as the inspiration for the famous American situation comedy Gomer Pyle USMC.
A Face in the Crowd was a film that Andy starred in during 1957. He played a manipulative and power hungry country boy, a drifter who then becomes a television host and uses his show to gain political power. This now classic movie is a powerful showcase of Andy Griffith’s talents as a dramatic actor and as a singer. Andy co-starred with Walter Matthau and Lee Remick in her film debut. It is believed that this film became far more popular and respected in more recent times than when it was originally released.
Andy Griffith had small roles on television before taking on The Andy Griffith Show in 1960. The Andy Griffith Show ran from 1960 to 1968. Andy played the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the CBS television network on his show. The show took place in the fictional town of Mayberry supposedly in the state of North Carolina. The character of Sheriff Andy Taylor was a widower and the towns’ wise man. From 1960 to 1965 Don Knotts played the role of Deputy Barney Fife, the best friend and partner of the Sheriff. Fife was also the cousin to Andy Taylor on the show. Ron Howard played Andy Taylors only child Opie Taylor. The show was a huge success. Don Knotts won multiple Emmy Awards for his comedic performances. Andy Griffith also worked on every script for the series; he was never awarded a nomination for any of his work on the show. In 1967 Andy decided to quit the show, even though it still had one more year’s contract to CBS. The show continued as Mayberry RFD. Ken Berry played a widowed farmer and many of the regular characters returned either as regulars and some as guests. Andy stayed on as executive producer, coming in to review scripts and give comedic input. He also guest starred in five episodes including the pilot where his character marries. Andy made a final appearance as Andy Taylor in the reunion television film Return to Mayberry. He also appeared in two reunion specials in 1993 and in 2003.