Andy Griffith Dies at Age 86

Andy Griffith 1929 - 2012. While he is probably best remembered as Sheriff Andy Taylor on the "Andy Griffith Show" or as Lawyer Ben Matlock on the hit series "Matlock." In-between those two shows he had a long and prestigious career with other series and very successful TV movies. One of those series was "Salvage-1" which was created by Mike Lloyd Ross and produced by Star Trek Producer Harve Bennett who Andy met while guest starring on another one of Bennett's shows, "The Bionic Woman" with Lindsay Wagner. The show ran for 2 seasons on ABC. Most of the second season never aired due to an interruption by the Iran Contra affair. Andy was joined in the series by Joel Higgins, Trish Stewart, Richard Jackel and J.J. Saunders.
 This show meant  a lot to me because when it came out I was in the 9th grade and just discovering that I wanted to become an actor. So, I wrote Mr. Griffith a very long winded seven page letter in which I talked about watching the "Andy Griffith Show" every day after school. And how I tuned in each week for "Salvage-1." What he must have thought about this rambling letter from a 15 year old kid. But instead of throwing it out or in a pile with the other fan mail, he wrote me back and encouraged me to pursue my love of acting. The only other actor I ever wrote was Johnny Carson and I was so sad to have received back a form letter with a pre-printed autographed picture. Mr. Griffith responded with a hand written letter and an autograph picture signed with a ball point pen. A picture that I still have today.
 In later years I began working at Universal Studios where Viacom was filming "Matlock." I got to meet Mr. Griffith and told him the story of the letter to which he replied "You're the kid who wrote me that manifesto?" I thanked him for his kindness in the letter and for his advise to which he replied. "Well, I guess it's working out for ya."
Thank you Andy. I am not sad but rather joyous at the full and happy life he lived. And the memories that he has left us all with.

Many Thanks,
Paul-Dean Martin

Update: Andy Griffith Cause of Death Heart Attack

RALEIGH, N.C. — The death certificate for Andy Griffith says the actor's death earlier this week was caused by a heart attack.

The certificate says the 86-year-old had suffered the attack 24 hours before he died at 7 a.m. Tuesday July 3rd. It also says he had suffered for years from other illnesses, including coronary artery disease, hypertension and hyperlipidemia, which can be a form of high cholesterol or high triglycerides.

Griffith's death certificate was filed Thursday July 5th with the vital records office in Dare County. It says he's buried in the Griffith Family Cemetery in Manteo. Dr. Johnny Farrow of Manteo signed the certificate.

Griffith was best known for playing Sheriff Andy Taylor in "The Andy Griffith Show," which aired from 1960 to 1968. He was born in Mount Airy and lived in Manteo. Griffith is survived by family members including his third wife, Cindi Knight, and daughter from his first marriage, Dixie Nan Griffith.

Andy Griffith, the legendary entertainer who became a household name to millions of TV viewers on "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock."

Dare County, N.C., Sheriff Doug Doughtie confirmed Griffith's death to ABC News, saying that the actor passed away at his home on Roanoke Island, N.C., at approximately 7 a.m. ET July 3rd. A cause of death has not yet been determined.

In a statement, Griffith's family said the actor passed away "after an illness" with his wife by his side.

Griffith began acting and singing at an early age, starring in productions at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he attended college. He debuted on Broadway in the 1950s and soon moved into TV and film.

He garnered Hollywood's attention with his starring role in 1957's "A Face in the Crowd," playing a country boy who schemes his way into TV and politics. In 1960, Griffith landed "The Andy Griffith Show" on CBS, in which he played Sheriff Andy Taylor, a widower and a wise man who kept the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina in check. He starred alongside his friend Don Knotts for five years. Ron Howard also starred as the only child of Sheriff Taylor, Opie.

Howard was one of the first celebrities to tweet a tribute to Griffith. "His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life," he wrote. "I'm forever grateful."

"The Andy Griffith Show" was a hit, and while Knotts won multiple Emmys for his role as Deputy Barney Fife, Griffith was never honored with that award. He left the show in 1968 but returned for the 1986 reunion TV film, "Return to Mayberry," as well as two more reunion specials in 1993 and 2003.

Meanwhile, Griffith dabbled in other TV and music projects including the 1979 ABC adventure series "Salvage-1" . In 1986, he landed the title role on the legal drama "Matlock." Matlock's Southern drawl and uncanny ability to win his cases made the show a ratings winner until its finale in 1995.

In 1997, Griffith won a Grammy for Best Southern, Country of Bluegrass Gospel Album for "I Love to Tell the Story -- 25 Timeless Hymns."

More recently, Griffith took on small roles in such films as 2007's "Waitress" and 2009's "Play The Game." He also made an appearance on a 2001 episode of the TV drama "Dawson's Creek."