Inspiration Of An Entertainment Icon: Andy Griffith

Inspiration Of An Entertainment Icon: Andy Griffith

A Message From The Creator

A Message From The Creator

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Ellen DeGeneres

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Ellen DeGeneres

Women’s News: Afghan Women Protest New Law on Home Life

Women’s News: Afghan Women Protest New Law on Home Life

Inspiration Of An Entertainment Icon: Andy Griffith

I just want to take a moment to pay tribute to a TV Legend. RIP, Andy Griffith.


Andy Griffith, an actor whose folksy Southern manner charmed audiences for more than 50 years on Broadway, in movies, on records and especially on television — most notably as the small-town sheriff on the long-running situation comedy that bore his name — died on Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island in North Carolina. He was 86.

His death was confirmed by the Dare County sheriff, Doug Doughtie.

Mr. Griffith was already a star, with rave reviews on Broadway in “No Time for Sergeants” and in Elia Kazan’s film “A Face in the Crowd,” when “The Andy Griffith Show” made its debut in the fall of 1960. And he delighted a later generation of television viewers in the 1980s and ’90s in the title role of the courtroom drama “Matlock.”

But his fame was never as great as it was in the 1960s, when he starred for eight years as Andy Taylor, the sagacious sheriff of the make-believe Southern town of Mayberry, running weekly herd on a collection of eccentrics like his ineffectual deputy, Barney Fife, and the simple-minded gas station attendant Gomer Pyle while, as a widower, patiently raising a young son, Opie.

“The Andy Griffith Show,” Monday nights on CBS, was No. 4 in the Nielsen ratings its first year and never fell below the Top 10. It was No. 1 in 1968, its last season. After the run ended with Episode No. 249, the show lived on in spinoff series, endless reruns and even Sunday schoolclasses organized around its rustic moral lessons.

The show imagined a reassuring world of fishin’ holes, ice cream socials and rock-hard family values during a decade that grew progressively more tumultuous. Its vision of rural simplicity was part of a TV trend that began with “The Real McCoys” on ABC in 1957 and later included “The Beverly Hillbillies,” “Green Acres,” “Petticoat Junction” and “Hee Haw.”

But by the late 1960s, the younger viewers networks prized were spurning cornpone, and Andy had decided to move on to movies after the 1966-67 season. CBS made a lucrativeoffer for him to do one more season, and the “The Andy Griffith Show” became the No. 1 series in the 1967-68 season. But Mr. Griffith had decided to move on, and so had the zeitgeist. “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” with its one-liners about drugs and Vietnam, and “The Mod Squad,” about an integrated police force, were grabbing a new generation of viewers.

But the characters in “The Andy Griffith Show” — Barney (Don Knotts), Gomer (Jim Nabors), Opie (Ron Howard), Aunt Bee (Frances Bavier) and the rest, including Gomer’s cousin Goober Pyle (George Lindsey, who died in May) — remained tantalizingly real to enthusiasts who still gather online and sometimes in person in fan clubs to watch reruns.

Andy Griffith was considerably more complex than Andy Taylor and his fellow denizens of Mayberry, although the show was based on his hometown, Mount Airy, N.C.

Beginning with the lead in Elia Kazan’s film “A Face in the Crowd” in 1957, the story of a roughhewn television personality who becomes a power-crazed megalomaniac, Mr. Griffith brought a canny authenticity to dark roles.

From the 1970s to the 1990s, Mr. Griffith starred in no fewer than six movies with the words “murder” or “kill” in their titles. In 1983, in “Murder in Cowetta County” he played a chillingly wicked man who remains stone-cold even as he is being strapped into the electric chair.

Mr. Griffith’s fans may have imagined him as a happy bumpkin, but he enjoyed life in Hollywood and knew his way around a wine list. His career was controlled by a personal manager, Richard O. Linke, who forbade Mr. Griffith to solicit advice from anyone else, even his wife.

“If there is ever a question about something, I will do what he wants me to do,” Mr. Griffith said in an interview with The New York Times Magazine in 1970. “Had it not been for him, I would have gone down the toilet.”

Far from the relaxed, gregarious, drawling Andy Taylor, Mr. Griffith was a loner and a worrier. He once hit a door in anger, and for two episodes of the second season of “The Andy Griffith Show” he had a bandaged hand (explained on the show as an injury Sheriff Taylor sustained while apprehending criminals).

But the 35 million viewers of “The Andy Griffith Show” would have been reassured to learn that even at the peak of his popularity, Mr. Griffith drove a Ford station wagon and bought his suits off the rack. He said his favorite honor was having a 10-mile stretch of a North Carolina highway named after him in 2002. (That was before President George W. Bush presented him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.)

Another honor was having his character place No. 8 on TV Guide’s list of the “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time” in 2004. (Bill Cosby’s Dr. Cliff Huxtable was No. 1.) But one honor that was denied him was an Emmy Award: surprisingly, he was nominated only once, for his role in the TV movie “Murder in Texas,” although Mr. Knotts won five Emmys as Deputy Fife on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Ms. Bavier won one as Andy’s aunt. The show itself was nominated three times but also never won.Andrew Samuel Griffith was born in Mount Airy on June 1, 1926, the only child of Carl Lee and Geneva Nann Nunn Griffith. His father was a foreman at a furniture factory. Mr. Griffith described his childhood as happy, but said he never forgot the pain he felt when someone called him “white trash.”

After seeing the trombonist Jack Teagarden in the 1941 film “Birth of the Blues,” he bought a trombone from Sears, Roebuck & Company with money he earned sweeping out the high school for $6 a month. He wheedled lessons out of a local pastor, who later recommended him to the University of North Carolina, where he won a music degree and married Barbara Edwards. He moved on from the trombone to singing, and for awhile aspired to be an opera singer.

After first aspiring to be a minister, he tried teaching music and phonetics at the high school in Goldsboro, N.C., but left after three frustrating years. “First day, I’d tell the class all I knew,” he told The Saturday Evening Post, “and there was nothin’ left to say for the rest o’ the semester.”

In spare moments Mr. Griffith and his wife put together an act in which he posed as a preacher, telling jokes about things like putting frogs in the baptismal water, and she danced. They played local civic clubs.

In 1953, speaking to a convention of the Standard Life Insurance Company in Greensboro, Mr. Griffith, in his preacher persona, told a comic first-person tale about attending a college football game and trying to figure out what was going on. Some 500 discs of his monologue were pressed under the title “What It Was, Was Football,” and it became a hit on local radio. Mr. Linke, then with Capitol Records, scurried to North Carolina to acquire the rights and to sign Mr. Griffith.

Mr. Linke began guiding Mr. Griffith’s career in television and nightclubs. His break came in 1955, when he was cast in the Broadway play “No Time for Sergeants” as a mountain yokel drafted into the Air Force, a role he had already played on television, on an episode of “Playhouse 90.” The New York Journal-American called him “an engaging and brilliant natural,” and the play was a hit, running for almost two years. He played the same role in the 1958 film version, with what Bosley Crowther of The Times admiringly called “staggering simplicity.”

In Mr. Griffith’s first movie, “A Face in the Crowd” (1957), he played a far more complicated role: a mentally unbalanced vagrant who is discovered playing the guitar in an Arkansas jail and becomes a beloved television star until he is undone by his dark side. Mr. Griffith told The Times Magazine that he was so consumed by the stormy character that it affected even his marriage.

“I’ll tell you the truth,” he said. “You play an egomaniac and paranoid all day and it’s hard to turn it off at bedtime. We went through a nightmare.”

In 1959, Mr. Griffith returned to Broadway in the musical comedy “Destry Rides Again,” in a role that had been played in films by Tom Mix, James Stewart, Joel McCrea and Audie Murphy. Though reviews were mixed, Newsday declared, “There isn’t a more likable personality around than Andy Griffith.”

The pilot of “The Andy Griffith Show” was actually an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” in February 1960. Danny Williams (Mr. Thomas) is arrested by a sheriff for running through a stop sign while driving through Mayberry.

Danny Williams baits the rural sheriff, calling him “hayseed” and “Clem.”

“The name ain’t Clem, it’s Andy, Sheriff Andy Taylor!” Andy Griffith responds.

Sheldon Leonard, producer of Mr. Thomas’s show, intended “The Andy Griffith Show” to fit the image of its star. Mr. Griffith negotiated for 50 percent ownership, which enabled him to be a major player in the show’s development.

A critical element to the show’s success was casting Mr. Knotts as the inept but lovable sidekick. So was the simple but appealing formula: characters would confront a problem, then resolve it by exercising honesty or some other virtue.

When Mr. Knotts left the show in 1965, a year after Mr. Nabors, Mr. Griffith said he became “nervous” about its future. Some principal writers had also left, and critics and viewers perceived the later years of the show as lacking the sparkle of earlier scripts and more lovable stars. Ratings, however, never tottered.

In the 1968-69 season, Mr. Griffith produced a sequel, “Mayberry R.F.D.,” with Ken Berry starring as a widowed farmer and many of the regular characters returning. It ran three seasons.Mr. Griffith’s career stalled after he left the show. Despite signing a five-year deal with Universal Pictures, he said he was not offered roles he wanted to play. “I thought I was hot stuff and go right into the movies,” he said in an interview with The Virginian-Pilot in 2008. “If didn’t work out that way.”

He returned to television in the fall of 1970 with “The Headmaster,” but it lasted only until January. It was replaced by “The New Andy Griffith Show,” but that was not a success, either, and was off the air by the summer. Then came a slew of made-for-TV movies.

In 1984, he played a deceptively laid-back prosecutor in the miniseries “Fatal Vision,” impressing NBC enough to make him the star of a TV movie, “Diary of a Perfect Murder,” which served as the pilot for a new series. Mr. Griffith played an unassuming but cagey defense lawyer in that series, “Matlock,” which made its debut in 1986 and went on to have an even longer life than “The Andy Griffith Show,”, running until 1992 on NBC and for three more years on ABC.

Mr. Griffith continued to play occasional movie and television parts, and in 1996 recorded a gospel album, “I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns” that went platinum and won a Grammy.

In the 2009 movie “Play the Game,” he played an 80-something widowed grandfather who lives in a nursing home and awkwardly jumps back into the singles game. He tries Viagra and experiences oral sex, and says the words “horny” and “erection.”

If that weren’t enough to dumbfound the old Mayberry fans, he made a commercial in 2010 extolling President Obama’s health care legislation. Republican politicians and conservative talk show hosts leapt on him mercilessly, while satirists like Jon Stewart of “The Daily Show” made boisterous fun of the brouhaha.

One thing that always bothered Mr. Griffith was people’s assumption that his depiction of Sheriff Taylor was him pretty much playing himself. He said he not only threw himself into creating a textured persona for the small-town lawman, but also helped write almost every episode — though he didn’t receive writing credit.

“You’re supposed to believe in the character,” Mr. Griffith said. “You’re not supposed to think, ‘Gee, Andy’s acting up a storm.’ ”

Joan Dunlop, Advocate for Women’s Health Rights, Dies at 78

Joan Dunlop, Advocate for Women’s Health Rights, Dies at 78

Inspiration Of Motherhood: Buy only “Made in USA” for one week

Inspiration Of Motherhood: Buy only “Made in USA” for one week

A Message From The Creator

A Passing Phase

I know that times are hard now
and I know you’re feeling down.
But you have strength to get through
and I know that you’ll be okay.
Keep looking toward the future
This time will soon pass by.
And I will be your shoulder
If you need to cry.

– Sharon Hendricks

Inspirational Woman Of The Day: Ellen DeGeneres

Ellen DeGeneres (b. January 26, 1958) is an American stand-up comedienne, television host and actress. She hosts the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show. She also starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Early Life

Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born January 26, 1958 in New Orleans, Louisiana. She was the daughter of an insurance salesman and a working mother who were divorced when DeGeneres was a teenager. When she was growing up she dreamed of becoming a veterinarian, but she gave up the idea because she was “not book smart.” Instead, she waited tables, sold vacuum cleaners, painted houses, worked as a legal secretary.

DeGeneres’ older brother, Vance, was the creator of the Play-Doh character “Mr. Bill” on the long-running NBC comedy skit program Saturday Night Live, and was long considered the humorous member of the family. Then once, during a public speaking event, DeGeneres found herself frightened by the crowd and used humor to get through the experience. She was a hit, and received offers to do stand-up comedy. She began performing in 1981, bolstered by her mother’s moral and financial support.

Stand-up Comedy

At the age of 23, she began performing at a local coffeehouse. She got her big debut in 1986 when, acting on a tip from Jay Leno,The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson sent a booking agent to catch her act at the Improv in Hollywood. As a result of that engagement, DeGeneres was invited onto The Tonight Show and earned the distinction of being the only female comic to be invited by Johnny Carson to sit on the famed “couch” during her first visit. She then began making regular appearances on the talk show circuit, including performances on The Late Show with David LettermanThe Tonight Show with Jay LenoThe Oprah Winfrey ShowLater with Greg KinnearLarry King Live, andGood Morning, America. She was also profiled in detail on ABC’sPrimeTime Live.

Ellen: The Sitcom

Her wit won over audiences, and DeGeneres finally found success as an actress with her own prime-time sitcom—the self-titled television series, Ellen. The series was originally titledThese Friends of Mine, but was renamed in 1994. From that point, she enjoyed a dizzying evolution from its beginnings as an ensemble show to its development into a showcase for DeGeneres.

The show faced strong criticism when, in April 1997, DeGeneres’ character became the first lead in sitcom history to openly acknowledge her homosexuality on air. An ABC affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, refused to air the landmark episode. Fearing controversy, some of the show’s sponsors, Daimler Chrysler among them, withdrew advertisements.

Several episodes following her reveal had gay themes and, throughout the remainder of the season, DeGeneres and ABC executives faced a storm of criticism. But the show also received rounds of applause from gay-friendly activists—including DeGeneres’ mother, Betty Degeneres, who appeared on numerous talk shows in support of her daughter. Despite a supportive audience; an Emmy Award for the coming-out episode; and the show’s groundbreaking place in television history; Ellen was canceled in 1998.

But DeGeneres had already made the move to the big screen, starring in the dark comedy Mr. Wrong (1996) as a woman in search of the perfect man. She has also appeared in the comedyEdTV (1999), starring Matthew McConaughey, and the television production of If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000), in which she shared a much publicized love scene with Sharon Stone.

Ellen: The Talk Show

Returning to television in 2003, Ellen DeGeneres became a big hit with daytime viewers with her self-titled talk show, Ellen. Since its inception, the show has won an Emmy, nearly a dozen Daytime Emmy Awards, and numerous People’s Choice Awards.

Also in 2003, DeGeneres lent her voice to the animated box office smash, Finding Nemo. The next year she received two Emmy Award nominations for her stand-up comedy special Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now.

A unique combination of kind and funny, Ellen DeGeneres has been a popular choice for award show host in recent years. She has hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards twice, and the Academy Awards for the first time in 2007. In September of 2009, Ellen made headlines again when she was chosen to fill the coveted fourth slot as a judge on the ninth season of American Idol. Former judge, Paula Abdul, announced her departure from the show earlier in the year. Show executives had been searching for a replacement for several months.

In addition to her stand-up, film, and television career, Degeneres is also the author of several books, including My Point … and I Do Have One (1995) and The Funny Thing Is… (2004).

Personal Life

For several years, DeGeneres dated actress Anne Heche and, in 1999, the couple bought a home together in Los Angeles. Although at one point they publicly announced their desire to be married, the couple broke up in August 2000. DeGeneres then dated Alexandra Hedison for a few years before becoming involved with actress Portia de Rossi in December 2004.

DeGeneres married de Rossi on August 16, 2008, in what was perhaps the highest-profile gay marriage after California legalized the unions.


Women’s News: Afghan Women Protest New Law on Home Life

KABUL, Afghanistan — The young women stepped off the bus and moved toward the protest march just beginning on the other side of the street when they were spotted by a mob of men.

“Get out of here, you whores!” the men shouted. “Get out!”

The women scattered as the men moved in.

“We want our rights!” one of the women shouted, turning to face them. “We want equality!”

The women ran to the bus and dived inside as it rumbled away, with the men smashing the taillights and banging on the sides.


But the march continued anyway. About 300 Afghan women, facing an angry throng three times larger than their own, walked the streets of the capital on Wednesday to demand that Parliament repeal a new law that introduces a range of Taliban-like restrictions on women, and permits, among other things, marital rape.

It was an extraordinary scene. Women are mostly illiterate in this impoverished country, and they do not, generally speaking, enjoy anything near the freedom accorded to men. But there they were, most of them young, many in jeans, defying a threatening crowd and calling out slogans heavy with meaning.

With the Afghan police keeping the mob at bay, the women walked two miles to Parliament, where they delivered a petition calling for the law’s repeal.

“Whenever a man wants sex, we cannot refuse,” said Fatima Husseini, 26, one of the marchers. “It means a woman is a kind of property, to be used by the man in any way that he wants.”

The law, approved by both houses of Parliament and signed by President Hamid Karzai, applies to the Shiite minority only. Women here and governments and rights groups abroad have protested three parts of the law especially.

One provision makes it illegal for a woman to resist her husband’s sexual advances. A second provision requires a husband’s permission for a woman to work outside the home or go to school. And a third makes it illegal for a woman to refuse to “make herself up” or “dress up” if that is what her husband wants.

The passage of the law has amounted to something of a historical irony. Afghan Shiites, who make up close to 20 percent of the population, suffered horrendously under the Taliban, who regarded them as apostates. Since 2001, the Shiites, particularly the Hazara minority, have been enjoying a renaissance.

President Karzai, who relies on vast support from the United States and other Western governments to stay in power, has come under intense international criticism for signing the bill into law. Many people here suspect that he did so to gain the favor of the Shiite clergy; Mr. Karzai is up for re-election this year. Previous Afghan governments, during the Soviet era and before the arrival of the Taliban, did not impose such restrictive laws, although in practice many rural women’s freedoms have long been curtailed. Rights advocates say the law for Shiites could influence a proposal for Sunnis and a draft law on violence against women.

Responding to the outcry, Mr. Karzai has begun looking for a way to remove the most controversial parts of the law. In an interview on Wednesday, his spokesman, Homayun Hamidzada, said that the legislation was not yet law because it had not been published in the government’s official register. That, Mr. Hamidzada said, means that it can still be changed. Mr. Karzai has asked his justice minister to look it over.

“We have no doubt that whatever comes out of this process will be consistent with the rights provided for in the Constitution — equality and the protection of women,” Mr. Hamidzada said.

The women who protested Wednesday began their demonstration with what appeared to be a deliberately provocative act. They gathered in front of the School of the Last Prophet, a madrasa run by Ayatollah Asif Mohseni, the country’s most powerful Shiite cleric. He and the scholars around him played an important role in drafting the new law.

“We are here to campaign for our rights,” one woman said into a megaphone. Then the women held their banners aloft and began to chant.

The reaction was immediate. Hundreds of students from the madrasa, most but not all of them men, poured into the streets to confront the demonstrators.

“Death to the enemies of Islam!” the counterdemonstrators cried, encircling the women. “We want Islamic law!”

The women stared ahead and marched.

A phalanx of police officers, some of them women, held the crowds apart.

Afterward, when the demonstrators had left, one of the madrasa’s senior clerics came outside. Asked about the dispute, he said it was between professionals and nonprofessionals; that is, between the clerics, who understood the Koran and Islamic law, and the women calling for the law’s repeal who did not.

“It’s like if you are sick, you go to a doctor, not some amateur,” said the cleric, Mohammed Hussein Jafaari. “This law was approved by the scholars. It was passed by both houses of Parliament. It was signed by the president.”

The religious scholars, Mr. Jafaari conceded, were all men.

Lingering a while, Mr. Jafaari said that what was really driving the dispute was the foreigners who loomed so large over the country.

“We Afghans don’t want a bunch of NATO commanders and foreign ministers telling us what to do.”

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