Andy Griffith, a beloved TV icon, has died, according to various media reports. He was 86.
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Griffith died at his home in Manteo, N.C., Tuesday morning, according to the actor’s close friend, former University of North Carolina president Bill Friday. Friday broke the news to North Carolina TV station WITN.
The folksy, plain-talking Griffith was best known for his role as small-town Sheriff Andy Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran on CBS from 1960 to 1968. Sheriff Taylor was the face of law and order in the bucolic North Carolina town of Mayberry, abetted by his goofy deputy Barney Fife, played by Don Knotts. At home, he was a single dad to Opie, played by a youngster then billing himself as Ronny Howard. For most of the show’s run, it ranked in the Nielsen top 10; ironically, Griffith was never nominated for an Emmy.
Two decades after his sitcom left the air, Griffith again played another iconic TV character — crafty Atlanta defense attorney Ben Matlock on the drama “Matlock,” which ran on NBC and ABC from 1986 to 1995.
Before he moved to TV, Griffith was known for his movie work, most notably “A Face in the Crowd,” Elia Kazan’s prescient 1957 drama about an uneducated hick who becomes an overnight media sensation.
In 2005, Griffith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then chief executive George W. Bush, whose remarks nicely summed up the actor: “TV shows come and go, but there’s only one Andy Griffith.”
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