Andy Samuel Griffith (born June 1, 1926) is an American actor, director, producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and writer. He gained prominence in the starring role in director Elia Kazan's epic film A Face in the Crowd (1957) before he became better known for his television roles, playing the lead characters in the 1960-68 situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show, and in the 1986-95 legal drama, Matlock. Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by US President George W. Bush on November 9, 2005.
Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, the only child of Geneva (née Nunn) and Carl Lee Griffith. At a very young age, Griffith had to live with relatives until his parents could afford to get a home of their own. Without a crib or a bed, he slept in drawers for a few months. In 1929, when Griffith was three years old, his father took a job working as a carpenter and was finally able to purchase a home in Mount Airy's "blue-collar" southside.
Like his mother, Griffith grew up listening to music. His father instilled a sense of humor from old family stories. By the time he entered school he was well aware that he was from what many considered the "wrong side of the tracks". He was a shy student, but once he found a way to make his peers laugh, he began to come into his own.