Meet the Andy Griffith You Didn’t Know — the Truth About the Sheriff of Mayberry

Nearly 60 years ago, Andy Griffith the actor truly came to the attention of the American public with The Andy Griffith Show, the gentle family sitcom set in the fictional Mayberry, North Carolina. He played Sheriff Andy Taylor and, along with an ensemble of characters, most notably his son Opie (Ronnie Howard, who, of course, would go on to star in Happy Days and achieve great success as a director) and Deputy Sheriff Barney Fife (Don Knotts), really connected with people in one of the greatest examples of Classic TV ever produced.

And then, 26 years after that show's 1960 debut, he achieved small screen success with the gentle (there's that word again) legal drama Matlock, which ran for nine seasons. Bookends to a career that seemed to suggest he moved from one success to the other, but the truth is that in between those two shows, Andy struggled in his career, trying one series after another that just failed to appeal to the audience, desperately trying to change his image from the "aw shucks" persona he made famous as Andy Taylor, and doing his best to stay alive in Hollywood, which became more difficult to do than one might suspect.

This is our look back at the life and times of one of TV's most beloved actors, revealing how he ended up chasing his dreams, and all the ups and downs of his career you might not be aware of. Until now, that is.