Legendary multihyphenate Andy Griffith has died, his close friend and UNC president Bill Friday told North Carolina’s WITN-TV. Griffith was found in his Dare County, N.C. home on Tuesday morning; he was 86.
Television viewers first met Griffith through his 1950s appearances on variety programs such as The Ed Sullivan Show and The Steve Allen Show, but it was the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show, which ran from 1960 to 1968, that made him a household name. Watch the opening:
Ron Howard, who played Sheriff Taylor’s son Opie, remembers Griffith for “his love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around,” the actor-turned-filmmaker says in a statement to our sister site Deadline. “The spirit he created on the set of The Andy Griffith Show was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment.”
Griffith went on to appear in series such as the Andy Griffith Show offshoot Mayberry R.F.D., Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show (playing the mayor of a Southern town), as well as star in the miniseries Washington: Behind Closed Doors and Centennial.
After a run of one-offs on shows such as The Love Boat and Hotel, plus the occasional Andy Taylor reprisal, Griffith in 1986 headlined NBC’s Matlock, playing an elite criminal defense attorney. That show ran for nine seasons.
Griffith’s most recent on-camera roles included a visit to Dawson’s Creek, playing “Old Joe” in the 2007 indie Waitress, starring Keri Russell, and Brad Paisley’s video for “Waitin’ on a Woman.”
UPDATE: TCM will tribute Griffith on Wednesday, July 18, with four of his films: Elia Kazan’s A Face in the Crowd (1957), at 8/7c; No Time for Sergeants (1958) at 10:15 pm; Hearts of the West (1975) at 12:30 am; and Onionhead (1958), at 2:15 am Thursday.
UPDATE No. 2: TV Land will remember the actor with blocks of the most memorable Andy Griffith Show episodes, running Wednesday, July 4, from 8 am to 1 pm ET, and Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 11 am to 8pm.