US TV Legend Andy Griffith Dead at 86

Posted July 3rd, 2012 at 12:55 pm (UTC-5)
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Iconic American actor Andy Griffith, best known for his role as a small-town sheriff in the 1960s television series The Andy Griffith Show, has died at the age of 86.

A television station in Griffith's home state of North Carolina reported the actor's death was confirmed by his close friend Bill Friday, former president of the University of North Carolina, where Griffith earned a music degree. The station quoted Friday as saying Griffith died Tuesday morning at his North Carolina home.

Griffith began his career as an entertainer in the 1950s with comic monologues and roles on Broadway and in movies, but it was his portrayal of widowed sheriff Andy Taylor in his self-titled sitcom that made him a household name.

Americans young and old tuned in to watch Griffith's Andy as he navigated life and law enforcement in a fictional North Carolina town with his son Opie and bumbling deputy Barney Fife. The show earned Griffith the nickname of “America's Favorite Sheriff,” and its lingering television presence through re-runs has made fans out of later generations.

After The Andy Griffith Show, Griffith went on to play another iconic TV character in the 1980s and 90s, starring as a criminal defense attorney in the popular legal drama Matlock.

Griffith was also a Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer, and in 2005, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from then-president George W. Bush.