Andy Griffith Has Passed Away

Sheriff and astute attorney of television died today at 86

(RxWiki News) First he was a wise and fatherly sheriff that we all wanted in our town. Then he was the lawyer that no one could outsmart. Andy Griffith has passed away at age 86.

As Sheriff Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith made Mayberry come alive from 1960 to 1968 on CBS's "The Andy Griffith Show."

Director Ron Howard, who played Andy's son on the show, tweeted today, "His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations and shaped my life. I'm forever grateful."

Unlike most actors who have played iconic TV characters, Andy Griffith was not trapped or typecast by his role as the kindly sheriff.

Instead, he found even greater success with more Hollywood law. As attorney Ben Matlock in the series "Matlock", from 1986 to 1995, Griffith once again created a clever character who became a household name.

Born in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, Griffith tried to live a private life. He married three times, first to Barbara Bray Edwards from 1949 to 1972.

They had two children, Dixie and Sam, who died in 1996. Griffith was married to Greek actress Solica Cassuto from 1973 to 1981 and then married his current wife, Cindi Knight, in 1983.

He began his career with regular stints on "The Ed Sullivan Show" and the "The Steve Allen Show" in the 1950s after having graduated with a music degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Though best known for his television characters, Griffith was a comedian and had a successful film and stage career as well, having been nominated for a Tony for his lead role in the 1960 musical "Destry Rides Again."

He also won a Grammy Award for best Southern, country or bluegrass gospel album in 1997 for his "I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns."

President George W. Bush awarded Griffith with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Griffith suffered a heart attack in 2000, followed by quadruple heart-bypass surgery. A fall in 2007 led him to have hip surgery.

Griffith's close friend, University of North Carolina President Bill Friday, confirmed Griffith's death this morning. He died of unknown causes at his home in Dare County, North Carolina, reported USA Today.

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July 3, 2012