Andy

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Andy Griffith: Neighbor, friend, colleague, gentle American icon — may be gone, but certainly not forgotten!

I want to Talk about Andy Griffith, a longtime Tolucan and a friend. And many other friends who celebrate independence and The Declaration of Independence. A lot of things happened over the 4th of July weekend. There was a shout out for Andy at Mary and Fred Willard’s spirited 3rd of July party and tender reminiscing from the many friends who were somehow connected. It seems that allAmerica was connected to Andy….

ANDY GRIFFITH: Andy, who had several homes inTolucaLake, was often seen driving around the hood in one of his antique cars, cruisingRiverside Drive, nodding at us gawkers. No matter how well one knew Andy, we were still a fan.

Seems like everyone was an Andy fan. The press coverage of his passing was over and above the usual respectful writing about lost celebrities. Ron Howard wrote an endearing and personal piece in the LA Times, and the lessons he learned working with Andy, like respecting everyone and “getting the job done while having a good time doing it.”

It’s interesting that so many people who know I had a peripheral time with Andy sent me solace. They had to express their feelings somehow to somebody. And of course, there’re the TAGS….

JoAnne Worley and Peter Mar-shall enjoying Independence Day celebration at the Willard’s July 3rd Fantazma.

THE TAGS: Really, it’s TAGSRWC, “The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club.” Give it a Google and have yourself some fun reading about all the clubs around the USA. These groups of fans are people of all ages and backgrounds; their common ground being firm footed folks who get their peace and their jollies from watching reruns of The Andy Griffith Show. I know so many of these dear people from attending “Mayberry Days” in Andy’s birthplace, Mt. Airy, North Carolina. Luckily, I’m booked to attend this year and can share hugs and happy memories. FYI, look up “Mayberry Days” and read about the silly good times, Sept. 27—30; maybe you’d like to attend this year? It’s like spending a long weekend in The Andy Griffith Show. I’m often greeted by my character’s name, “Hey Romeena, you think it might rain?”

BITTERSWEET ANDY MOMENT: My most cherished episode was “My Fair Ernest T. Bass.” Ernest T. Bass was a wild/sweetie, played with earnest nuttiness by the great actor Howard Morris. I was gifted with the role of his beloved, and all during the first read through there was joyful laughter and constant compliments from Andy. We were all at a great high … then a crewmember interrupted the reading, radio in hand, telling us that President Kennedy was shot. Instant sorrow beyond description. We took a break and I sat with Frances Bavier in the café, until it was decided that we would do a camera blocking and then go home until the long sad weekend was over. When we went back to work, everyone had to tuck their feelings on a back burner and be professionals. Howie and I often found each other at a back water cooler having a little cry. A bonding experience, for sure. It turned out to be one of the funniest and favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show.

The ever sedate and always glo-rious Alice Maltin of Toluca Lake adding some sparkle dust to Fred and Mary Willard’s Independence Day fete.

Andy was fondly discussed by so many pals and admirers at the Willard’s 3rd of July patriotic festivity. Leonard Maltin and his lovely wife Alice, Peter Marshall and JoAnne Worley, the great writer Steve Bluestein, Sarah Purcell and a host of witties, young and old. The perfect place to be when needing a lifting of spirit, surrounded by the Spirit of ’76. Hot dogs, hush puppies, and friend chicken (and not to forget Mary Willard’s famed baked beans!) Andy would “appreciate it.”

My heart goes out to his darlingDixie, Andy’s daughter, who I used to drive to school. I wish her peace and a happy life.

When Andy left his namesake show he handed it over to my then husband, Ken Berry, in a CBS continuation called Mayberry RFD. Andy still hung around. He loved the guys and was really a man’s man. He’d gather his Mayberry men, dress up in an old leather flyer’s hat and a white long silk scarf, and go to whoop it up at The Palomino on Lankershim. A rascal.

So, the party’s over, but the melody certainly lingers on.

We’ll Talk — and we’ll appreciate….

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