Former UNC President Bill Friday shared the news that close friend actor Andy Griffith the star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock died at his home in Dare County, North Carolina this morning.
Griffith, who was born in Mt. Airy, N.C., was launched to fame as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS from 1960-1968. On the show, Ron Howard played his son, Opie. He starred on other shows and in films, but found his greatest success again with legal drama Matlock, from 1986 to 1995. He played the title character, Ben Matlock.
Here is Sheriff Andy teaching Opie about the 4th amendment and the due process of law after Opie eavesdrops on a private conversation…how times have changed.
He earned the ire of many conservative fans when he did this commercial in favor of Obamacare:
Some reaction on Twitter:
Ron Howard: “Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy”
Rodney Atkins: “Rest In Peace Andy Griffith. Praying for his family, friends and fans.”
SouthernLiving: “Rest in peace Andy Griffith. Mayberry will always have a special place in our hearts.”
Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott: “Heaven gained a talented man today. Mr. Andy Griffith, thanks for giving me amazing memories with my family growing up watching your show!”
Amy Grant: “From Team Amy – Go Rest High on that Mountain, Andy Griffith.”
Dave Coulier: “RIP Andy Griffith. Thank you for all the laughs. I love Mayberry, and never knew that R.F.D. was for Rural Free Delivery. #AndyGriffith”
If you had any doubt just how popular Andy Griffith was in NC, this Tweet by Chuck Todd reminds us how much sway he had. Jesse Helms was popular (not just because of his conservatism, but he was excellent at constituent services overall), but the left-leaning Griffith toasted him in the polls. Too bad he never took a crack at it and ran.
UPDATE: The White House released this statement from the President:
Michelle and I were saddened to hear about the passing of Andy Griffith this morning. A performer of extraordinary talent, Andy was beloved by generations of fans and revered by entertainers who followed in his footsteps. He brought us characters from Sheriff Andy Taylor to Ben Matlock, and in the process, warmed the hearts of Americans everywhere. Our thoughts and prayers are with Andy’s family.