MANTEO, N.C. — Andy Griffith, the actor best known for his role on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, died on Tuesday after an illness.
Griffith was 86-years-old.
He passed away early Tuesday morning at his home on Roanoke Island in Manteo with his wife Cindi at his side, the family confirmed in a statement.
“Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord,” Cindy Griffith said in a statement.
“He is the love of my life, my constant companion, my partner, and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without Andy, but I take comfort and strength in God’s Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God.”
CNN is reporting Griffith was buried on his farm during a private service with his family at 11:30 a.m.
President Barack Obama issued a statement on Griffith’s death:
“Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Griffith this morning. A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.”
Governor Perdue also issued a statement, stating North Carolina lost its favorite son.
“Andy Griffith graciously stepped into the living rooms of generations of Americans, always with the playful charm that made him the standard by which entertainers would be measured for decades,” said Perdue.
“Throughout his career, he represented everything that was good about North Carolina: a small town boy and UNC graduate who took a light-hearted approach to some of the attributes he grew up with and turned them into a spectacularly successful career. In an increasingly complicated world, we all yearn for the days of Mayberry. We all will miss Andy, and I will dearly miss my friend,” said Perdue.
Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton made called Griffith a true legend.
“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Andy Griffith, a true legend. I have been a longtime fan and it was my pleasure to come to know him. Andy Griffith was not only an icon for North Carolina, but he was a genuine person and a true gentleman. Lucille and a send our thoughts and prayers to Cindi and the entire Griffith family.”
Griffith, 86, was an actor, director, producer and award-winning singer and writer. He was best known for his starring role in The Andy Griffith Show and in the legal drama Matlock.
Griffith and Barbara Bray Edwards were married on August 22, 1949, and they adopted a son, Andrew Samuel Griffith Jr. (born in 1957 and known as Sam Griffith), a real-estate developer, and a daughter, Dixie Nan. They were divorced in 1972. He and Cindi Knight were married on April 12, 1983; they had met when he was filming Murder in Coweta County.
Griffith was born in Mount Airy, the only child of Geneva and Carl Lee Griffith. As a student at Mount Airy High School, Griffith cultivated an interest in the arts, and he participated in the school’s drama program. A growing love of music, particularly swing, would change his life.
He began college studying to be a Moravian preacher, but he changed his major to music and became a part of the school’s Carolina Play Makers. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Chapel Hill, and graduated with a bachelor of music degree in 1949.
After graduation, he taught English for a few years at Goldsboro High School.
Griffith starred on The Andy Griffith show from 1960-1968. Reruns of the show continue across the country.
In 1967, Griffith was under contract with CBS to do one more season of the show. However, he decided to quit the show to pursue a movie career and other projects.
Griffith then went on to star in Matlock from 1986-1995. During the series’ sixth season, he served as unofficial director, executive producer and writer of the show.
Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005.
In a 2011 poll, Griffith ranked as the third most beloved man in North Carolina behind Billy Graham and Dean Smith.