Andy Griffith, television icon, died Tuesday morning. He was 86.
An ambulance was reported arriving at Griffith’s home in Dare County, North Carolina at approximately 7 a.m. A close friend, Bill Friday, confirmed the entertainment legend’s death to WITN, a local news station.
Griffith is most famously associated with The Andy Griffith Show for his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor. The popular American sitcom ran for eight seasons with high ratings. The comedian and actor played a single parent to his son, Opie, after the death of his wife. Griffith’s character embodied the atmosphere of the small town of Mayberry. Sheriff Taylor was able to see the importance of the laws, but more importantly, he saw the people first. As Taylor, Griffith would often approach the law in a relaxed manner that ultimately led the wrongdoer to see their error, without the need for handcuffs or a jail cell.
Griffith starred along Don Knotts and Jim Nabors, whose unusual and quirky characters added to the show’s popularity. Ron Howard also starred in the show, playing the Sheriff’s son, Opie. Howard went on to further television success on the popular, “Happy Days” as Richie, and then became a Hollywood legend in his own right as a director.
Andy Griffith would return to television again in 1986 as a man of the law, but instead of a gun and handcuffs, Griffith was armed with charm as a country lawyer from Georgia. Griffith became the star of Matlock as Ben Matlock, the aged Southern lawyer who inflicted justice in the courtroom. Despite the success of Matlock, Sheriff Andy Taylor would always be Griffith’s most famous role.
Griffith was born on June 1, 1926 in North Carolina. Before his television career took off, he gained recognition as a monologist from What It Was, Was Football. The recording would bring Griffith into the limelight on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Griffith revealed his ability to move from the television screen back to the radio in 1996 with his album I Love to Tell the Story – 25 Timeless Hymns. He would later receive a Grammy for Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album. Griffith would also win the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005, where President George W. Bush said, “TV shows come and go, but there’s only one Andy Griffith.”