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Andy Griffith in Classic Television Ads
Durham, NC - Duke faculty respond to the death Tuesday of North Carolina native Andy Griffith:
Mark Anthony Neal, professor, African & African-American Studies
"Within the midst of the upheaval of the 1960s, 'The Andy Griffith Show' seemed a throwback to the nostalgia of another era. Set in a quaint North Carolina, Griffith's world seemed untouched by anything modern, including a Civil Rights Movement that literally announced itself less than 50 miles away.
"Yet there was so much more to Griffith's worldview. As a single father, 'The Andy Griffith Show' primed American audiences for the kinds of single-parented households that would become part of our future, and the show helped translate the modernization in the South for those still stuck on the image of the old South.
"As a child, I watched many hours of 'The Andy Griffith Show,' alongside shows like 'I Love Lucy' and 'That Girl' for cues to navigate worlds that were far different than the one I was growing up with in the South Bronx.
"And indeed, I always felt as though I grew up with Griffith's television son, actor Ron Howard, as he transitioned from Opie Taylor to Richie Cunningham to Academy Award-winning film director.
"In the end, I'll remember Andy Griffith for the honestly of his vision, even if it might have clashed from time-to-time with the reality that I knew."
Thomas Rankin, director of the Center for Documentary Studies
"Andy Griffith was first a kind of steady conscious of North Carolina and through his show became the calm, quiet conscious of America, achieving near parable proportions. What made his show and his life all the more powerful and enduring is the 'real' Andy's deep humility, care and concern for contemporary society.
"The popularity of his show suggests a kind of universal meaning to the small town ethos -- and wonderful humor -- that drives it. I think we long for the small, the local, the deeply 'common' all the more in our virtual and global moment."
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