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Andy Griffith Prioritized Love Following His Manager’s Ultimatum - Story of Broken Friendship

Oyin Balogun
Oct 11, 2021
12:20 A.M.
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Andy Griffith gave the world one of the most classic Hollywood sitcoms, "The Andy Griffith Show," but behind the scenes, the actor was in a dilemma between love and his career.

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"The Andy Griffith Show" was widely watched in the years that it aired, and the fame of the show affected its lead star, Andy Griffith, who was loved by his viewers and fans for his humor and charm.

Another big part of Griffith was his heart and love for the women in his life. Griffith was a renowned lover, and sometimes, his love for his women drove him into secret affairs even while he was married.

Photo of "The Anfy Griffith Show" star, Andy Griffith | Photo: Getty Images

Photo of "The Anfy Griffith Show" star, Andy Griffith | Photo: Getty Images

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While Griffith was a popular star, his career would never have seen the light of day if not for his longtime manager and friend, Richard Linke. Both stars built their career together and forged a good friendship, but in the end, Griffith had to choose between Linke and love. Guess who he chose?

ABOUT GRIFFITH

Griffith was born on June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina, and growing up, he had his eyes set on the stage but not as an actor but as an opera singer. The actor was passionate about music and was out to pursue a career in it.

As a teenager, Griffith later had a change of heart and decided to embrace religion and become a Moravian preacher. He enrolled as a pre-divinity student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1944.

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Andy Griffith in a publicity portrait issued for the TV series, "The Andy Griffith Show," circa 1965. | Photo: Getty Images

Andy Griffith in a publicity portrait issued for the TV series, "The Andy Griffith Show," circa 1965. | Photo: Getty Images

While in college, the actor fell in love with his studies and later graduated with a degree in music. After teaching music in high school for three years, Griffith and his then-wife Barbara Edwards set out for a life of entertainment.

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The couple quickly became a formidable pair and developed a traveling routine that featured singing, dancing, and monologues that Griffith performed. Their 1953 monologue, "What It Was Was Football," became one of the most popular comedic monologues of all time.

More acting work opened for Griffith in the years that followed, and he became a regular on several top shows at the time. After moving to New York, Griffith made his television debut as a guest monologist on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1954.

Andy Griffith as Benjamin Matlock on the hit mystery legal drama television series "Matlock" (1986-1995). | Photo: Getty Images

Andy Griffith as Benjamin Matlock on the hit mystery legal drama television series "Matlock" (1986-1995). | Photo: Getty Images

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He later secured a role in the hit play "No Time for Sergeants," which earned him a nomination for a Tony Award for outstanding supporting actor. Griffith later reprised his role when a movie was made out of the play.

After a guest appearance on the popular show "Make Room For Daddy," where he played a small-town mayor, CBS decided to give Griffith his own sitcom, "The Andy Griffith Show," which would go on to be successful.

Andy Griffith as Benjamin Matlock on the hit mystery legal drama television series "Matlock" (1986-1995). | Photo: Getty Images

Andy Griffith as Benjamin Matlock on the hit mystery legal drama television series "Matlock" (1986-1995). | Photo: Getty Images

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WHO WAS LINKE?

Richard Linke was the longtime personal manager of Griffith for many years and was responsible for most of his successful works in addition to producing "The Andy Griffith Show" and several of its spinoffs.

After moving to New York in the 40s, Linke found work as a publicist for different radio stations. After working for various brands and organizations, Linke met Griffith in 1953 and began to manage his career. As a producer, Linke became popular for his ability to turn talents into stars.

The "Andy Griffith Show," which he produced, became hugely successful, and Linke expanded his client base to include other stars like Jim Nabors, Ken Berry, and Frankie Avalon. He also worked on shows like "Mayberry R.F.D." and "The Jim Nabors Hour."

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Andy Griffith on March 7, 2004 at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

Andy Griffith on March 7, 2004 at The Hollywood Palladium, in Hollywood, California | Photo: Getty Images

LINKE AND BARBARA

When Linke became Griffith's manager, Griffth and his first wife Barbara Edwards were working toward becoming stars. The actor depended on his wife for counsel for the first decade of his career, but all that changed when Linke came in.

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According to the book "Andy and Don: The Making of a Friendship and a Classic American TV Show," Linke loved to be in charge and control of his client's life and choices. He loved to be the voice that made the decisions and was uncomfortable with Edwards being a voice in Griffith's life.

Andy Griffith at the White House in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2005 | Photo: Getty Images

Andy Griffith at the White House in Washington D.C. on November 9, 2005 | Photo: Getty Images

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Linke gave Griffith the ultimatum to choose between Edwards and him and decide who would make his career decisions. Griffith then explained to Edwards that he would no longer seek her opinion on his career as he was going to let Linke do the job.

Edwards agreed to let Linke become the ruling man, and Linke became closer to Griffith, helping him make decisions, but that marked a turning point in the star's relationship with his wife. The two later divorced and Linke went on to make Griffith a star.

 Andy Griffith arrives at the "CBS At 75" celebration November 2, 2003 ,in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Andy Griffith arrives at the "CBS At 75" celebration November 2, 2003 ,in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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RICHARD LINKE VS CINDI KNIGHT

After his second marriage to Greek actress Solica Cassuto failed, Griffith relied on his third marriage to Cindi Knight to bring him companionship and relief, but it brought more than that. It marked an end to his over three decades friendship with Linke.

For decades, none of Griffith's girlfriends or wives could come in between Griffth and his buddy and manager, Linke, but when Knight came, she wanted full control, and that scared Linke.

Andy Griffith and wife Cindi Knight attend the party for 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

Andy Griffith and wife Cindi Knight attend the party for 33rd Annual Primetime Emmy Awards on September 13, 1981, in Los Angeles, California. | Source: Getty Images

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Knight and Griffith were in love, and this romance lasted until the actor's death. As his career began to wane, Griffith relied on his dear wife for consolation, a task that Linke had done for decades.

Tension was beginning to mount up between Linke and Knight, and it became clear that both figures could not be the captains of the same ship. It was either one or the other, and the choice belonged to Griffith.

A picture taken of Andy Griffith while he starred in "Matlock" on November 24, 1992. | Source: Getty Images

A picture taken of Andy Griffith while he starred in "Matlock" on November 24, 1992. | Source: Getty Images

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Although he acknowledged that he owed everything to Linke, he was unwilling to let loose the woman who had brought him comfort, so when it came down to choosing between Linke and Knight, Griffith made the tough call of losing his best friend and manager.

After almost 40 years as business partners and dear friends, Linke was out. Linke died in 2016 at age 98, a few years after Griffith had passed on, drawing the curtain on one of Hollywood's most iconic stories of friendship and love.

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