Early in his career, Andy Griffith was always billed as Deacon Andy Griffith
Throughout the '50s, Griffith was known as "Deacon" to the public.
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Everybody knows the name Andy Griffith. He's what you call a household name. Some might know him as Sheriff Andy or Matlock.
Far fewer know him as "Deacon." Your memory has to reach back 70 years to know the North Carolina comedian by that monicker. But early in his career, Griffith was referred to in public as "Deacon Andy Griffith."
No, he was not a preacher, but he did play one. The Mount Airy native first came to fame thanks to his funny monologues and country-fried one-man shows. The most popular one, by far, which you are most likely to be familiar with, is "What It Was, Was Football," which was released as a 45 single in 1953 by Capitol Records. The spoken word bit climbed all the way to No. 9 on the Billboard pop charts in 1954. Yes, it was a different time.
In the routine, Griffith portrayed a hillbilly preacher who witnesses his first-ever football game. The sport seems strange and alien to the yokel. The record was credited to "Deacon Andy Griffith."
It was not his only monologue released to the pop market. A double-sided "Romeo and Juliet" single followed, also credited to Deacon Andy Griffith. A year later, when Griffith dropped his "Ko Ko Mo (I Love You So)" single, the newspapers still called him Deacon. "Thus begins Deacon Andy Griffith's latest record release," The Charlotte Observer wrote in 1955.
Still, the following year, even as his serious acting was taking off, Griffith could not shake the "Deacon" persona. In a news blurb about the start of production on A Face in the Crowd (called "The Face in the Crowd" by the paper), the Nashville Banner wrote, "The film includes Jud Collins, Eddie Hill, 'Deacon Andy' Griffith in the cast." Just look at the clippings.
The public just knew Griffith as "Deacon Andy." It was not a title he would truly shake until he became Mayberry's sheriff. As late as 1958 and 1959, shortly before The Andy Griffith Show began as a spin-off of The Danny Thomas Show, regional papers were referring to him as "Deacon Andy Griffith."