A Latina Who Mourns Mayberry

July 6, 2012

We’re as American as Opie

By Elia Esparza
Spicy Cilantro

When it was announced today that TV legend Andy Griffith had died, it hurt more than I would have ever thought…. Because, I suppose, it means a loss of more of my childhood.

I remember the very first color TV we ever got in the 60’s, and The Andy Griffith Show was one my brother and cousins watched faithfully. Mom and dad would watched the Spanish-language stations, but when it was the kids’ time, we were glued to the tube watching Opie, The Flint-stones, I Love Lucy, Batman and Robin, and lots of cartoon shows.

The Andy Griffith Show made us laugh at Barney Fife’s antics and we were sad when Opie got into trouble with his dad and Aunt Bea. And, when he had to pay the consequences of his errors, we all related to him. Secretly I wished my father was with us. He and mom divorced when I was only 4, but I imagined that had he stayed, he would have been just like Sheriff Andy!

Launching the cable TV Land network was genius because there is no shortage of baby boomers. I escape by going back to a good time in my life and that is usually as a child watching my favorite TV shows. Aside from TV, I was also a great lover of movies. I saved my weekly allowance so I could go to the movies every Sunday. In fact, I was a regular at the Vogue Theater in Chula Vista, CA! For sure I went to the movies more than I did church! And, when the Vogue Theater introduced me to West Side Story, it was a monumental moment in my life… I knew that whatever I did as an adult, it would involve the movies and television.

Hollywood diva and one of my great amigas, actor/comedian Dyana Ortelli once work-ed with Griffith playing a hooker (she’s Latina, what else is she going to be cast in Hollywood but prostitute and maids?) on Griffith’s Matlock and had this to say:

“God, I wish I had a picture! I was wearing a little teddy with garter belts and had to jump on top of him. His wife stood close by, keeping an eye on me. I was fearless. He was stunned!”

Dyana said she’s still waiting for her tip. Funny lady! And, I’m sure Mr. Griffith never forgot her!

Andy Griffith lived to be 86 and from what I have read, he lived a pretty good life and had a great career that will live on in syndication for generations to enjoy.

Director and once actor, Ron Howard, played Opie, Griffith’s son. Today he paid his TV dad a loving tribute to him by saying:

“His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around. The spirit he created on the set of The Andy Griffith Show was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment. And I think it was a reflection of the way he felt about having the opportunity to create something that people could enjoy. It was always with respect and passion for the opportunity and really what it could offer people in a very unpretentious and earthy way. He felt he was always working in service of an audience he really respected and cared about. He was a great influence on me. His passing is sad. But he lived a great rich life.”

Those of us who watched The Andy Griffin Show, grew up together with Ron Howard and probably why so many of us can relate and revel in his success as a filmmaker.

On LatinoWood, guest contributor Adrian Tafoya wrote his perspective on being Brown in America and loving The Andy Griffith Show. Check it out! here. and it is also on Latin Heat Online.

The Andy Griffith Show ran from 1960 to 1968 and will live on forever in syndication for generations. TV Land has blocked its programming grid with marathon airings of The Andy Griffith Show. And on July 18th, TCM will broadcast movies starring Andy Griffith.

Rest in peace,

Andy Griffith!

Esparza’ blog “Spicy Cilantro” can be found at

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