Legendary TV Actor Andy Griffith Dead at 86

Andy Griffith, who made homespun Southern wisdom his trademark as the wise sheriff in ‘‘The Andy Griffith Show’’ and the rumpled defense lawyer in ‘‘Matlock,’’ died Tuesday at the age of 86.

Actor Andy Griffith passed away recently at the age of 86. He was most know for his roles as Sheriff Andy on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Ben Matlock the attorney on “Matlock”. Griffith is survived by his third wife and his daughter Dixie Nan. Photo: YouTube

Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie has confirmed Andy Griffith has died at 86 and also released a short statement from the family.

‘‘Mr. Griffith passed away this morning at his home peacefully and has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island,’’ Doughtie said, reading from a family statement.

“Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord,” said his wife in a statement.

“He is the love of my life, my constant companion, my partner, and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without Andy, but I take comfort and strength in God’s Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God.”

Griffith was rushed to a North Carolina hospital by an EMS team after they were called to his home Tuesday morning.

Judy Panitch, a rep for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to where the actor donated a great deal of time and funds, later confirmed the news of his death, reports Fox News.

Andy Griffith was already a star — on Broadway in “No Time for Sergeants” and in Hollywood in Elia Kazan’s film “A Face in the Crowd” — when “The Andy Griffith Show“ made its debut in the fall of 1960.

Griffith set the show in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., where Sheriff Taylor was the dutiful nephew who ate pickles that tasted like kerosene because they were made by his loving Aunt Bee, played by the late Frances Bavier.

He was a widowed father who offered gentle guidance to son Opie, played by Ron Howard, who grew up to become the Oscar-winning director of “A Beautiful Mind.”

Griffith was born in Mount Airy and attended UNC Chapel Hill where he earned a degree in Music. His first job out of college was an English teacher at Goldsboro High School, according to WITN.

‘‘The Andy Griffith Show’’ was a loving portrait of the town where few grew up but many wished they did — a place where all foibles are forgiven and friendships are forever.

On ‘‘Matlock,’’ which aired from 1986 through 1995, Andy Griffith played a cagey Harvard-educated defense attorney who was Southern-bred and -mannered with a practice in Atlanta, writes Boston.com.

President Barack Obama says Griffith was 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. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.”

Ron Howard expressed his condolences Tuesday via his Twitter page.

“Andy Griffith. His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful. RIP Andy,” he wrote.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, visiting Eastern Carolina this morning, said Griffith was an iconic figure in the state. “His show was known not only in our nation, but around the world,” Hagan told WITN’s Brittany Creamer. “My thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Griffith 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, reports Newser.

Griffith suffered over the years with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause sudden paralysis. He had also suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2000.

Griffith won a Grammy in 1997 for his album of gospel music “I Love to Tell the Story — 25 Timeless Hymns.”

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