Category Archives: face in the crowd

Andy Griffith 1926-2012

Andy Griffith was the multiple award-winning and nominated star of television, film, stage and song. The actor, writer, director, producer, comedian, musician and singer passed away this morning in North Carolina. He was 86.

Back in my preschool days, “The Andy Griffith Show” was my favorite show, second only to “Batman.” The opening of the program with Andy and his son Opie, played by Ronny Howard, going fishing and walking in the woods reminded me of my father and me. Especially the bit with that kid throwing rocks. I was that annoying kid throwing rocks whenever we went fishing or went for walks in the woods. My imaginary friend was even named ‘Opie.’ Hey, stop judging. I never said I was a bright kid. The point is, from an early age, “The Andy Griffith Show” and its spin-offs were a family tradition.

Just as I watched little Opie grow into Richie Cunningham and later a successful director, I also watched Andy in the largely forgotten but also fondly remembered ABC series “Salvage 1,” and later on the more palatable “Matlock.” When my brother-in-law gave me all his 45 RPM records (for the kids out there, think single MP3 iTunes purchases, only round and on vinyl), I discovered another facet of Andy Griffith with his down home comedy spoken word hit, “What It Was, Was Football.”

As an adult I discovered how his humor led to Andy’s role on the stage and then in film with No Time for Sergeants. The film not only firmly established his persona for the next few decades but also was the direct inspiration for later television spin-off “Gomer Pyle, USMC.” Andy also did a flick at this time called Onionhead, that was so bad, he stopped doing movies.

However, before that, he made the film that for me, earns Andy Griffith the most respect. 1957’s A Face in the Crowd, written by Budd Schulberg and directed by Elia Kazan, is one of my favorite films, easily in my top five, and Andy Griffith, as the charismatic but evil entertainer Lonesome Rhodes, is the star. This is an acting tour de force, and Griffith is a whirlwind. If you have not seen this phenomenal drama, I can’t recommend it enough.

We have lost not only one of our most beloved television icons, but also a visionary in the way TV is done, as well as one of America’s greatest actors and comedians. Rest in peace, Andy, we will miss you.

Mike Wallace Dead at 93

Over the weekend one of television’s pioneers passed away. Multiple award-winning journalist, TV host, and media personality Mike Wallace is dead at the age of 93 from natural causes.

While best known as a correspondent on the long-running news program “60 Minutes,” Mike Wallace has worn numerous and varied other hats such as narrator on the “Green Hornet” and “Sky King” radio series, game show host, actor (under the name name Myron Wallace, although he played himself in one of my favorite films, A Face in the Crowd), and he also hosted several other news shows before landing “60 Minutes.”

Wallace had semi-retired in 2006, but appeared throughout 2008. He garnered at least twenty Emmy Awards, had written two autobiographies, and was perhaps the last of the real television journalists (just my opinion). We have lost one of the greats.

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Patricia Neal 1926-2010

Multiple award-winning actress Patricia Neal passed away yesterday at her home on Martha’s Vineyard. She was 84.

One of the finest actresses of her era, Patricia Neal was noted for performances in The Fountainhead, the original The Day the Earth Stood Still, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Hud for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress, and one of my favorite films, A Face in the Crowd.

She was also a star of Broadway and television as well, winning awards in both arenas. As well as the parts she did play, Neal was also noted for those she did not – she turned down the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate and was unable to play the mother in “The Waltons” for health reasons.

Her personal life was plagued by both health problems and drama. Her affair with the much older and married Gary Cooper caused a feeding frenzy in the press of the day, and her turbulent marriage to author Roald Dahl ended in divorce after thirty years. These events however are overhsadowed by all of her good work over the years for various charities.

We have another one of the greats of Hollywood. Patricia Neal will be missed.

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