Keck's Exclusives: Co-Stars Remember Andy Griffith
There aren't many adult cast members of The Andy Griffith Show still alive, so it's nice to know that the remaining few remained in touch with Andy Griffith until his death on July 3. Three years ago, Griffith and his wife, Cindi, visited Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle) in Hawaii. Then, "Andy called about three weeks ago after I had open heart surgery," recalls Nabors, 82. "He didn't sound sick at all. We laughed a lot. It didn't feel like the last time I would ever talk to him."
Betty Lynn, who played Thelma Lou, last spoke with Griffith on June 1 when she called to wish him a happy 86th birthday. "Andy picked up the phone and I got to visit with him for a little bit," says Lynn, 85. "I knew he had trouble walking, but he sounded strong on the phone. I never dreamed he was this close to dying. I told him I loved him and hoped he'd have a wonderful year ahead. He couldn't have been sweeter."
Lynn lives in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, the town where Griffith was born and raised and from which Mayberry took its inspiration. On the day of her friend's passing, Lynn found some solace by visiting the nearby Andy Griffith Museum. "What's really keeping this town lively is the tourism," she says. "And we have Andy to thank for that."
Nabors honored his friend by dedicating a medley to Griffith during a Fourth of July concert performance. "Andy encouraged me to become an entertainer as opposed to an actor," recalls Nabors. "And the medley I dedicated to him was from an act Andy, Don [Knotts] and I did together at Harrah's in Lake Tahoe back in the '60s. It's one of the few times I've performed it since."
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