Andy Griffith Dies at 86
Andy Griffith, the television icon who headlined The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, died Tuesday morning. He was 86.
Griffith died around 7 a.m. in his Roanoke Island, N.C., home, Dare County Sheriff J.D. "Doug" Doughtie said in a statement on behalf of Griffith's family. A cause of death was not provided. Griffith has been laid to rest on Roanoke Island, the statement added.
Griffith is most famous for his portrayal of Mayberry town sheriff — aka "America's favorite sheriff" — Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show and as the titular defense lawyer on the legal drama Matlock.
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Born in Mount Airy, N.C., on June 1, 1926, Griffith began his career as a monologist and got his big Hollywood break with his film debut in Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd in 1957. He was a fixture on The Ed Sullivan Show in the '50s, but it wouldn't be until 1960 that he became a household name with The Andy Griffith Show. The series, which co-starred Don Knotts and a young Ron Howard, was a ratings and critical hit and lasted eight years.
"His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful. RIP Andy," Howard tweeted Tuesday.
Griffith followed up with stints on Andy Griffith Show spin-off Mayberry RFD and a handful of less successful series, including Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show in the '70s.
In 1986, he enjoyed a career resurgence with Matlock, which ran for nine years. Despite his TV success, Griffith never received an Emmy nomination for either of his long-running series. He earned his only Emmy nomination for the 1981 TV movie Murder in Texas.
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Griffith's most recent roles included guest spots on Diagnosis: Murder (as Matlock) in 1997 and on a 2001 episode of Dawson's Creek. His final project was the 2009 film Play the Game.
In 2005, Griffith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush.
In recent years, the actor suffered from health issues, undergoing a quadruple heart-bypass surgery in 2000 and a hip surgery in 2007. In the early '80s, he suffered temporary leg paralysis from Guillan-Barre syndrome.
Griffith is survived by his wife Cindi Knight and daughter, Dixie, from a previous marriage to Barbara Bray Edwards. Griffith also leaves behind his second ex-wife, Greek actress Solica Cassuto. His son Sam, with Edwards, died in 1996 after years of alcoholism.