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Ben Matlock

TheaterBroadway TheaterMusical TheaterTelevision

ANDY GRIFFITH as Ben Matlock

In creating the role of Matlock, the astute defense lawyer who disarms his opponents with his wit and ways, Andy Griffith commented: "I've considered it part of my job ever since the show started to put in some humor – some fun… My objective is to have the audience feel that they're watching a real human being, not an actor."

After giving unforgettable performances on the Broadway stage as well as in feature filmswhich brought him national acclaim, Mr. Griffith concentrated on television. He starred in a variety of formats for more than 32 years. When the Academy of Television Arts &bSciences inducted him into the Hall of Fame, he was cited as a "major shining comedy and dramatic talent."

Beginning with "The Andy Griffith Show" in 1960, a top-rated program for eight years, he went on to demonstrate his versatility and talent in several miniseries, including, "Centennial," " Washington: Behind Closed Doors," in which he portrayed President Lyndon B. Johnson, and "Murder in Texas," for which he received an Emmy Award nomination for his role as Ash Robinson.

Mr. Griffith starred in a number of specials and performed in just about all the top variety shows. His made-for-television films include "Winter Kill," "Under the Influence," "Crime of Innocence," "Murder in Coweta County," and many others. In addition, he served as executive producer of the long-running comedy series, "Mayberry R.F.D."

He made his Broadway debut as the lead in "No Time for Sergeants," performing in both television and movie versions. He then starred in the film, "A Face in the Crowd" and "Onionhead," and returned to Broadway for the musical, "Destry Rides Again," before going on to "The Andy Griffith Show." "I've been doing film for so long, it's like a way of life," the actor said. "I enjoy myself on a sound stage very much, it's like a family."

"Matlock," which Mr. Griffith was also the executive producer, was produced in Wilmington, North Carolina, his home state. He graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a major in music, and taught music in high school in Goldsboro, N.C. for three years before striking out on his own as an entertainer.

"I really wanted to go into show business," he recalls. "But I didn't know how. I wanted to be a singer, but I didn't have the instrument. Somehow, thanks to a peculiar set of circumstances, I recognized I could write. I wrote a monologue based on a popular Johnny Ray song, 'Please Mr. Sun'... I got laughs and I knew I had something." He went on tour performing monologues, singing and playing the guitar. When he read Mac Hayman's novel, "No Time for Sergeants" and heard that the Theatre Guild would present the play on television before it went to Broadway, the consummate performer went for the lead role of Will Stockdale and got it, launching his national reputation.

He makes his home with his wife Cindi on a 68-acre farm in North Carolina.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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