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Andy Griffith, the likable and versatile star who became famous playing a small town sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show, has died. He was 86 years old.
According to MSNBC, the news of Griffith’s death Tuesday at his home in North Carolina was confirmed to television station WITN by Bill Friday, former president of the University of North Carolina and a good friend of the star. Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina in 1926.
Although best known for the heartwarming series The Andy Griffith Show, he also had experience in film, stage, and even in the recording studio — winning a Grammy Award for his gospel album, I Love to Tell the Story – a collection of 25 hymns.
In the ’60s TV series The Andy Griffith Show, he played sheriff of the quaint fictional North Carolina town of Mayberry. Much later in his career he portrayed a criminal defense lawyer in the TV series Matlock (1986-1995).
After graduating college Griffith brought his musical talents to high school students as a music teacher. A short time later he decided to enter showbiz and started writing and performing comic monologues. His first TV role came in 1954 when he portrayed Will Stockdale, an intense military recruit, in No Time for Sergeants – a role he reprised in the 1958 film version.
His first feature film role was in 1957 as Lonesome Rhodes in Elia Kazan’s provocative A Face in the Crowd. Acting alongside such heavyweights as Walter Matthau and Patricia Neal, he played a small town yokel who becomes an overnight sensation when a TV station creates a show for him, with his character turning out to be a malicious, egotistical monster.
The The Andy Griffith Show was always near the top of the ratings during its eight-year run and in the years that followed, Griffith attempted to duplicate Mayberry’s charm with shows such as The Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show, but those shows never managed to grab an audience. Griffith later started his own production company and went on to star in numerous made-for-TV movies including Murder in Texas, a role that earned him an Emmy nomination.
After playing a shrewd yet compassionate and good-natured lawyer in Matlock, Griffith continued working in movies, including the 1996 Leslie Nielsen vehicle Spy Hard and the 2001 comedy Daddy and Them, starring and directed by Billy Bob Thornton.
He will be missed by many!
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