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Classic television favorite Andy Griffith dead at 86

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

As Sheriff Andy Taylor who served Mayberry RFD, actor Andy Griffith will forever be linked to the classic TV show "The Andy Griffith Show." Griffith was welcomed back into the nation's living rooms as "Matlock" in the 1980s. Griffith has passed away at his home on Roanoke Island, N.C., at the age 86.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord," Griffith's wife, Cindi, said in a statement. "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."

Actor and director Ron Howard, who played Griffith's son, Opie, on "The Andy Griffith Show," said that Griffith "has not been well for some time."

"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. "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 debuted in the 1957 film "A Face in the Crowd" with Patricia Neal. It was as the widower sheriff Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show" that Griffith hit his stride. The TV show, which also starred comedian Don Knotts as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife, ran from 1960-1968. Ironically, while both Knotts and co-star Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee on both won Emmys for their roles, Griffith never did.

Griffith returned to the small screen in 1986 as Ben Matlock, a Southern lawyer in "Matlock" which ran until 1995. Popular with older American viewers, in one "Simpsons" episode, a highway is renamed the "Matlock Expressway" so a town mayor can win the elderly vote.

Griffith said that Matlock was his favorite role.

Griffith often sang as part of his TV roles. He won a Grammy for his 1996 inspirational album, "I Love to Tell the Story."

Called North Carolina's favorite son, a statue of Griffith, in character as Andy Taylor, and holding a fishing pole and the hand of Ron Howard's Opie, stands in Raleigh, N.C.

Earning a degree in music from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of Griffith's earliest hits was a 1953 comic monologue about college football. Married three times, Griffith is survived by his wife and his daughter Dixie. Son Andrew Jr., known as Sam, died in 1996.

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