Griffith is best known as "Sheriff Andy Taylor" in the popular 1960s television series The Andy Griffith Show and in the title role in the 1980s television series Matlock.
The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968, became an instant hit with its American audience. Viewers immediately felt a connection with Taylor, his son "Opie" (Ron Howard), "Aunt Bee" (Frances Bavier), Deputy "Barney Fife" (Don Knotts), "Gomer Pyle" (Jim Nabors), Goober Pyle (George Lindsey) and the entire town of "Mayberry".
Griffith started out as a stand-up comedian. His first success was a 1953 live recording of "What it was, was football", a story about a country boy at his first football game, delighting in the "big orange drinks" and the boys running up and down the "cow pasture" in "the awfulest fight I most ever saw" and "these purty girls a-wearin' these little-bitty short dresses, and a-dancin' around". Later that year, he recorded "Number One Street", telling the story of a rural family travelling to Florida on United States Highway 1.
By 1954, he was on Broadway, starring in No Time for Sergeants, a play about a country boy in the air force, made into a film in 1959 and considered the direct inspiration for the Gomer Pyle Show.
In 1959, Griffith starred in A Face in the Crowd. Again, he played a country boy and entertainer, but this time as a terrifying psychopath who used the rube pose to rise to political power.