Andy Griffith in "No Time for Sergeants" in 1955, his first on-screen appearance. Image: Archive of American Television
In 1955, in the first on-screen appearance of his memorable career in television comedy, Andy Griffith appeared in a U.S. Steel Hour
episode entitled “No Time for Sergeants,” a television version of his first stage success on Broadway, later the same year.
Born Andy Samuel Griffith in Mount Airy, North Carolina, in 1926, the fine comic actor was also a television producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and writer. In 2005 the White House awarded him the esteemed Presidential Medal of Honor.
In a long interview for the Archive of American Television in 1998, Griffith, who died last year (2012), described his long career in acting, including the eight-season run of his incomparable The Andy Griffith Show. He also spoke about the many television movies and miniseries he appeared in, including his crime series Matlock. As the features on the Andy Griffith page make plain, he was a likable, laconic, broadly comic, and expressive actor, right from the start.
Andy Griffith receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom at the Whitehouse in 2005, one of 14 recipients that year. Image: White House photo by Paul Morse
His is one of many uncut, unscripted interviews and other features on the site of the Archive of American Television. The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation
founded the archive in 1997 and has conducted more than 700 oral-history interviews – more than 3,000 hours– with TV legends. The Foundation is making the interviews freely available as a chronicle of the birth and growth of American television history
. New interviews go up online throughout each year, and the archive is designed to cover a variety of professions
in television history. Each interview progresses through the life and career of the interviewee, and concludes with subjects’ thoughts about their craft. The TV figures also provide advice for aspiring professionals.
The list of interviewees is long and varied. Ever wonder on the social agenda behind Get Smart. Was it intended to be subversive? “Absolutely; without question,” says Barbara Feldon, agent “99.” She says she once asked Mel Brooks’ co-creator and writer, Buck Henry, about that subject. She says: “He felt that the only way you could make an effective impression, make change, was through laughter, because when you laugh, you’re open.”