It Begins at Carolina

Actor Andy Griffith, who graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1949 with a bachelor’s degree in music, is best known for his warm and wise portrayals of Sheriff Andy Taylor and lawyer Ben Matlock  — and, it all began at Carolina, as he noted during his 1978 University Day speech in Memorial Hall.

“I want to tell you something,” Griffith said. The room grew silent. “As we were walking up the lane here to this wonderful hall, I don’t know about you, but I was moved. It was all I could do to fight back tears. And the reason was I knew I was going to walk up on this stage, and this is the stage where the first time in my life I was ever in a play.”

Born and raised in Mount Airy, Griffith entered Carolina in 1944 as the first in his family to attend college. During his time in Chapel Hill, he starred in several Carolina Playmakers productions, was the president of Glee Club and a member of Phi Alpha Mu music fraternity.

In 1972, Griffith established a scholarship fund in his name for promising dramatic art and music students at Carolina that continues today.

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