NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Andy Griffith, beloved star of the “Andy Griffith Show,” died in North Carolina. He was 86.
Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie says in statement Griffith died Tuesday at about 7 a.m. He says the family will release further information.
Griffith was best known for his role as Sheriff Andy Taylor in “The Andy Griffith Show” that aired on CBS from 1960-1968. He starred alongside Ron Howard who played his son Opie, and Don Knotts who played the bumbling Deputy Barney Fife.
Griffith first met Knotts in 1955, when they co-starred in the Broadway play No Time for Sergeants.
From 1986-1995, Griffith starred as detective Ben Matlock in the series “Matlock.”
Celebrities took to Twitter to share their condolences.
“Sad to hear news of Andy Griffith’s death. He was a terrific actor, a great comedian, an endearing person. He lived a long & fruitful life,” — Larry King.
“Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy,” — Ron Howard.
Howard later issued the following statement: “His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around,” Howard said in a statement. “The spirit he created on the set of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment.”
Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in November 2005.
Griffith stepped back into his Sheriff Taylor role in 2008 when he appeared in a pro-Barack Obama campaign video directed by Howard and featuring the former child star chatting with Griffith and other former TV colleagues.
“A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps,” Obama said in a statement. “He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere.”
He and his first wife, Barbara Edwards, had two children, Sam, who died in 1996, and Dixie. His second wife was Solica Cassuto. Both marriages ended in divorce. He married his third wife, Cindi Knight Griffith, in 1983.
“She and I are not only married, we’re partners,” Griffith said in 2007. “And she helps me very much with everything.”
Griffith also suffered over the years with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause sudden paralysis. In 1987, he told the Associated Press that he wore plastic leg braces during the making of “Return to Mayberry.”
“I’ve stopped wearing the braces,” he said then. “They squeaked and the soundmen could hear them. I took them off and never put them back on. I have pain, but I’m 100 percent OK. But the pain’s been with me so long I almost don’t notice it.”
He had suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2000.
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