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From 1960 to 1965, the show co-starred character actor and comedian — and Griffith's longtime friend — Don Knotts in the role of Deputy Barney Fife, Taylor's best friend and comedy partner. In the series premiere episode, in a conversation between the two, Fife calls Taylor "Cousin Andy", and Taylor calls Fife "Cousin Barney".The show also starred child actor Ron Howard (then known as Ronny Howard), who played Taylor's only child, Opie Taylor. Griffith never received a writing credit for the show, but he worked on the development of every script.He was a Tony Award nominee for two roles, and gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead roles of Andy Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968) and Ben Matlock in the legal drama Matlock (1986–1995).

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He did win the 1956 Theatre World Award, however, a prize given for debut roles on Broadway. Griffith does not have to condescend to Will Stockdale" (his role in the play), wrote Brooks Atkinson in The New York Times.

"All he has to do is walk on the stage and look the audience straight in the face. His only other New York stage appearance was the titular role in the 1959 musical, Destry Rides Again, co-starring Dolores Gray.

He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school's Carolina Playmakers.

At UNC, he was president of the UNC chapter of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, America's oldest fraternity for men in music.

He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come out of his shell and come into his own.

As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school's drama program.Mickey nurtured Griffith's talent throughout high school until graduation in 1944.Griffith was delighted when he was offered a role in The Lost Colony by Paul Green, a play about Roanoke Island still performed today.He also portrayed a US Coast Guard sailor in the feature film Onionhead (1958); it was neither a critical nor a commercial success.In 1957, Griffith made his film début starring in the film A Face in the Crowd.A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life.