TV Icon Andy Griffith Dead at 86; TV Land and TCM Plan Marathon Tributes

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.

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36 Comments
  1. Lambsilencer says:

    Oh, that’s sad. I practically grew up with “Matlock”, and became fond of court dramas because of him.

    RIP :(

  2. Chris Allen says:

    I think “Matlock” was on NBC, not CBS…but yes, this is sad news.

  3. Jenni says:

    He was also in the Brad Paisley video “Waiting on A Woman”. Which will be kind of eerie to watch today

  4. Donna says:

    Probably not mentioned in most obituaries is his 1958 film (previously TV special) “No Time for Sargeants.” Kids, if you’re reading: You owe it to yourselves to check out this 1958 film. One of the greatest comedy performances of all time!

  5. Turk says:

    :( I have seen so many episodes of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock. RIP Andy Griffith. You will be missed.

  6. Ruby says:

    I watched Matlock all the time growing up, with my grandmother. We’d sit and watch Matlock on one channel, then switch to Colombo on the other. Very sad both are now gone.

  7. geng says:

    He was a gentleman and will be greatly missed. I very fondly remember watching those reruns after school. “I Love Lucy” then “Andy Griffith”. What great televsion that was…..

  8. Sherry says:

    Deepest Condolences to his family and friends. God Bless, rest in piece.

  9. Drew says:

    Sad to hear. But like Elizabeth Montgomery, Rod Serling and so many others, he will continue to live on in reruns. Their work is immortal.

  10. THOMAS JACKSON says:

    ANDY`S FIRST ENDEAVER IN SHOW BUSINESS WAS A RECORD,ABOUT THE ADVENTURES OF A HILL BILLY WATCHING A FOOT BALL GAME AND EXPLAINING HIS REACTIONS TO IT,IT WAS HILARIOUS

    • Annie says:

      Yep. My dad told me often about this. Google “What it was, was football.”

    • gryffman says:

      “What it was was tootball ….it was” bout October, I recolllect,,,,,and the object 0f the game…..without steppin in something”. I am SO sad. Another great voice of the South gone.

  11. Jen L. says:

    He was so wonderful in “Waitress” with Keri Russell. Andy Griffith will definitely be missed.

  12. Annie says:

    So sad. My home state has lost a treasure, as has the nation. Rest in peace, Mr. G., and tell my dad, your former classmate, hello for me.

  13. Mrs. Peele says:

    I’ve enjoyed watching Andy since I was a child – all of his shows were great, the drama, the sentiment and the humor. I’m sure he will be making them smile in Heaven as well! Love you, Andy!

  14. Lorie says:

    Such sad news. I’m getting all teary at my desk. What wonderful memories/shows he left behind. RIP, Andy.

  15. Laura says:

    Just watched him in a cute movie on Netflix last weekend called, Play the Game. Have always loved him. Sorry to lose such an icon!!

  16. Emily says:

    RIP Andy, watching the Andy Griffith show was a great part of my childhood, such sad news.

  17. moobear says:

    A a young child, I knew that at noon my choices on tv were, Sesame St (Elmo scared me), daytime soaps, or a block of old shows like Griffith’s and Perry Mason, I chose the latter. To this day I can’t watch an episode of Eureka without seeing the homage they’re paying to Andy Griffith and company :)

    • maggie says:

      Your Eureka comment is spot on. Andy Taylor and Jack Carter share a lot in common. The kindhearted, seemingly bumpkin sheriff who turns out to be a lot smarter than others think.

  18. maggie says:

    Rest in peace Andy. One of the all-time great TV stars, and from what people who knew him say, a truly nice man.

  19. tvdiva says:

    If you have not seen A Face in the Crowd, you may be surprised at how magnificent a drama actor Griffith was. Also, see No Time for Sergeants for some real belly laughs. These two films were made about the same time and showed his range from light comedy to dark drama.

  20. Danielle H says:

    RIP ANDY!!!

  21. Angela says:

    Legendary, talented man, and a class act as well. Such a shame to lose someone like him. Rest in peace, Andy.

  22. Erin says:

    I actually shed a tear because I grew up watching him.. he was amazing in Face in the crowd!

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