Andy Griffith, the beloved Sheriff Andy Taylor of TV's iconic The Andy Griffith Show and dramatic defense attorney on Matlock, died at his North Carolina home this morning July 3, 2012. He was 86.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Griffith originally wanted to be an opera singer, then a preacher, before turning to acting in college. In the late '40s, he and his new bride, the former Barbara Edwards, set out with song-and-dance act that eventually evolved into his delivering folksy monologues on early TV variety shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show.
In 1954, Griffith's star was launched when he starred as the bumpkin army draftee in Broadway's No Time for Sergeants, and he repeated the role in the 1958 movie version, which also starred his later TV sidekick, Don Knotts.
The two achieved immortality playing Sheriff Andy and Deputy Barney Fife from 1960-68 on The Andy Griffith Show, which also helped launch actor (and later Oscar winning movie director) Ron Howard, as Andy's son Opie. The show was set in Mayberry, and America lapped it up.
Griffith also starred in another TV favorite, Matlock, playing cantankerous defense lawyer Ben Matlock, who had a knack for getting juries to acquit and witnesses to confess on the stand.
On the big screen, before his TV stardom, Griffith also starred in the searing look at a media personality, “A Face in the Crowd”. Griffith appeared in one Euro-western 1985’s “Rustler’s Rhapsody as Colonel Ticonderoga.
Griffith was also a Grammy award-winning southern gospel singer, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2005.