Andy Griffith, the warm-hearted, common-sense sheriff of rural Mayberry, featured on the "Andy Griffith Show," has died. He was 86.
Revered as" America's favorite sheriff," the affable Griffith passed away early Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island, Dare County, N.C., according to a statement from the sheriff's office.
"Andy Griffith passed away, after an illness ... Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island,"a statement from the actor's family conveyed.
Griffith's wife Cindi Griffith added that, "Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord."
Griffith's stellar career ranged from nightclub and radio appearances to movies and music. But it was his renowned role as a small-town sheriff on TV that endeared him to millions of Americans.
According to a CBS report, viewers tuned into "The Andy Griffith Show" which ran from 1960 to 1968, not to watch Sheriff Andy Taylor solve big crimes, but to watch him solve the little problems of life in the fictional Mayberry, N.C. Don Knotts played Deputy Barney Fife, and Jim Nabors portrayed Gomer Pyle, the gas pumper.
Although critics rated the weekly family-oriented show -- that also featured "Aunt Bea" -- number four among the top five sitcoms ever on TV, other reports state that, "The Andy Griffith Show" was one of only three series in history to end its run at the top of the ratings. "I Love Lucy" and "Seinfeld" also bowed out on top.
Griffith was born June 1, 1926, in the small town of Mt. Airy, N.C. He was brought up in the church where he sang and played slide trombone in the band at Grace Moravian Church. He got break an actor when he played the role of Sir Walter Raleigh in Paul Green's outdoor pageant, "The Lost Colony," in Manteo, N.C.
Griffith graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1949 with a degree in music, and years later in 1972, he began his own production company.
Griffith returned to TV in 1986, playing the lead role in "Matlock," a courtroom-based drama, which aired until 1995.