Andy Griffith Dead at 86

Actor Andy Griffith died on Tuesday morning in North Carolina, reports MSNBC. He was 86.

Griffith came to fame in the 1960s in his role as gentle Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. The article recounts, “The show, which also starred a young Ron Howard as Griffith’s son Opie, and comedian Don Knotts as bumbling Deputy Barney Fife, ran from 1960-1968. Its setting, in the fictional small-town of Mayberry, became almost as famous as any one episode.”

While most television series run until the audience is barely holding on, E! online notes that The Andy Griffith Show went out on top. This was because Griffith pulled the plug. Knotts had already left the show to pursue a career in film and Griffith wanted to do the same thing.

“But the film thing didn’t work out for Griffith,” the article explains. “And when he returned to TV, that didn’t work out, either, as he starred in one failed series after another after another. A crippling bout with the viral Guillan-Barre syndrome, in the early 1980s, was yet another blow.”

“I thought I was hot stuff, and I’d be able to anything I wanted,” Griffith recalled in 1986. “I couldn’t.”

Griffith was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre syndrome, which affects the nervous system, in 1983. According to MSNB, in an interview with Guideposts magazine in 1996 he discussed his illness this way: “Guillain-Barre has left me with permanent pain in both feet, but like an unwelcome guest, it isn’t so bad when I stop paying attention to it. Challenges and pain will continue all my life, I know, but with Cindi at my side to remind me to accept God’s grace, I’ll go forward and continue to work with love and happiness.”

Things turned around for Griffith in the 1980s. He starred in thr 1986 TV-movie Return to Mayberry, which reunited the surviving case members of Andy Griffith. The movie was a hit, and shortly after that he got a role as the aging country lawyer in Matlock, which ran for many years and made Griffith a household name once more. The actor was honored with the the TV Land Legend Award in 2004, and he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005. Griffith was also a singer and musician, and his 1996 album I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns went platinum.

He is survived by wife Cindi and his daughter Dixie. Son Andrew Jr., known as Sam, died in 1996, reports MSNBC.