For nine decades, Our State has made its way into homes across North Carolina, the United States, and the world. To celebrate, every month this year, we’re paying tribute to the readers who inspire us, offering a taste of our earliest recipes, and revisiting old stories with new insights. Follow along to find out how our past has shaped our present.
When The State wrote about a young Andy Griffith’s blossoming showbiz career in January 1954, the Mount Airy native’s path seemed clear. He and his first wife, Barbara, had been delighting countless civic-club audiences with their charming husband-and-wife shows, featuring Barbara’s singing and dancing and Andy’s hilarious naive-country-boy monologues such as “Hamlet,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “What It Was, Was Football.” A recording of the football routine was rocketing up the national record charts.
The civic-club circuit wasn’t glamorous — some of the couple’s makeshift performance venues didn’t even have dressing rooms — but it was obvious that brighter days were on the horizon, especially for Andy and his down-home style of humor.
Looking back at that 1954 article, though, one comment jumps off the page today. When asked about his future, Andy replied, “I want nightclub work — television would kill me dead in a year.”
Nevertheless, six years later, he debuted The Andy Griffith Show, which lasted eight seasons and became one of the most beloved sitcoms in television history. He struck TV gold again with Matlock (nine seasons, 1986-1995). Neither show killed him dead. In fact, their longevity and undeniable popularity secured his legacy as a pop-culture icon for generations to come. They also serve as a poignant reminder that life, unlike Andy’s knee-slapping monologues, is unscripted.
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To commemorate our 90th anniversary, we’ve compiled a time line that highlights the stories, contributors, and themes that have shaped this magazine — and your view of the Old North State — using nine decades of our own words.