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Actor Andy Griffith Dies at 86

July 3, 2012 by Marc Berman in Highlights with 0 Comments
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Andy Griffith the Beloved sheriff from “The Andy Griffith Show” has died today at age of 86. He was also known as the sharp-tongue, country lawyer from the TV show “Matlock”, which aired in the late 1980’s. WITN posted an article about the breaking news, which was confirmed by his close friend former UNC President Bill Friday.

Griffith was born on June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina. After graduating from the University of North Carolina, his side gig as singer-dancer-guitarist in the town of Greensboro earned him much notice and success. He then produced several successful comedy albums, including his 1953’s “What It Was Was Football.”

His rise to fame led him to appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1954, the Broadway play/TV show/movie “No Time for Sergeants” and two feature films, “A Face in the Crowd” and “Onionhead.”

This all was a prelude to what would become his most famous signature role and show – the classic sitcom about a kind and well-observant sheriff named Andy Taylor in the fictional town of Mayberry entitled “The Andy Griffith Show”, which aired on CBS from 1960-68. 

While he starred in feature films, made-for-television movies and short-lived television programs throughout the 1970’s and early 1980’s, he found notable success once more in 1986 as an Atlanta attorney named Ben Matlock in NBC’s hit legal drama, “Matlock” – a series that would later be picked up by ABC during its run in 1993 and air there until 1995. Griffith also served as “Matlock”‘s executive producer, and upon winning the 1987 People’s Choice Award for Favorite Drama Actor, he admitted he considered Ben Matlock as his all-time favorite role. 

Griffith was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Hall of Fame in 1991. He even gained notoriety on the music charts, as recently as 1996, when his gospel album, “I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns,” peaked at number 55 on the Billboard 200 album chart. 

Griffith was thrice married; first, to Barbara Edwards from 1949-72; then, to actress Solica Cassuto from 1973-81; and finally, to Cindi Knight in 1983, when she was 27 and he was 56. His son Sam died in 1996, after a years-long battle with alcoholism.

Griffith had quadruple-bypass heart surgery in 2000 and underwent hip surgery in 2007. 

Ron Howard, the famous producer, Oscar-winning film director and most known for portraying Andy’s son Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show”, today tweeted: “Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy”

Andy Griffith, you will be missed.

“I’d sooner eat a live chicken than be your lawyer!” – Ben Matlock, 1993

Written by Marc Berman

Marc Berman is the Editor in Chief for TV Media Insights, the online destination for television and media. Berman has appeared on camera for Extra, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The CBS Evening News, CNN, and more; and his 2014 desk calendar, “Today in TV History,” will be available next fall.

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