Andy Griffith, the actor and comedian with a good country-boy sense of appeal and who charmed generations of television viewers, has died. He was 86.
Most best recognize Griffith for his work on "The Andy Griffith Show," which ran on on CBS between 1960 and 1968. Others recognize him still from some of his later work, especially "Matlock," which ran on NBC beginning in 1986, and ended its run on ABC in 1995.
Griffith, however, got his start in comedy, but not in the typical standup routines like we have today. Instead, he was a monologist, sharing humorous stories that would later become the basis for "The Andy Griffith Show." After a string of different television and film appearances, Danny Thomas created a backdoor pilot within his show, "Make Room for Daddy," where his character was stopped by a sheriff in a small rural town played by Griffith.
The show would create stars out of Don Knotts and Ron Howard, the latter becoming a successful and award-winning film director.
He would work on other projects, including a successful singing career, following his CBS comedy, and wouldn't return full-time to television again until 1986 when he played Georgia attorney Ben Matlock in "Matlock," where he would take on cases in a Perry Mason way, and find a path to victory.
Howard, who continued to maintain a close relationship with Griffith, said the actor's "pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations and shaped my life. I'm forever grateful."
Jaime Paglia, a creator of the outgoing Syfy series "Eureka," said that Griffith was one of the primary inspirations for the creation of his show. "Here's to an amazing life and career," he said.
Griffith was born June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, N.C., the town many believe was the inspiration for Mayberry, and also was the home of the famous Siamese twins Chang and Eng Bunker.
Despite his legendary television status, Griffith was only ever nominated for one Emmy -- in 1981 for Outstanding Supporting Actor for the special "Murder in Texas," losing to David Warner for "Masada." "Andy Griffith Show" itself would be nominated for nine Emmys, winning six -- nearly all of them going to his co-star, Knotts. Frances Bavier, who played Aunt Bee in the show, also won an Emmy for her work.
"Matlock" would receive four Emmy nominations, all in music categories, winning in 1992 for Bruce Babcock.
It's been 52 years since "Andy Griffith Show" premiered, and most of the main cast is now gone. In fact, only Howard, Jim Nabors and Thelma Lou's Betty Lynn survive. George Lindsey, who replaced Nabors when he got his own spinoff, died in May.
Griffith is survived by his third wife, Cindi Knight, who he married in 1983, and one daughter, Dixie Griffith. His son, Andy Griffith Jr., died in 1996.
Griffith was buried within hours of his death on Roanoke Island, reportedly based on his explicit wishes.
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