• Actor, NC native Andy Griffith dies at 86


    DARE COUNTY, N.C. - Television star and North Carolina native Andy Griffith died on Tuesday morning.

    Griffith died about 7 a.m. at his coastal home in Dare County, Sheriff Doug Doughtie said in a statement.

    Griffith was 86 years old, and was born and raised in Mount Airy. Many of the characters and businesses in the fictional Mayberry of “The Andy Griffith Show,” which ran from 1960-1968, are based on real locations in Mount Airy.

    When asked in 2007 to name his favorite episodes, the ones atop Griffith's list were the shows that emphasized Don Knotts' character as Deputy Barney Fife. Griffith and Knotts had become friends while performing in "No Time for Sergeants," and remained so until Knotts' death in 2006 at 81.

    "The second episode that we shot, I knew Don should be funny and I should play straight for him," Griffith said. "That opened up the whole series because I could play straight for everybody else. And I didn't have to be funny. I just let them be funny."

    There is now an Andy Griffith Museum located in the old school where Griffith used to be a student, and Mount Airy still hosts a yearly festival known as Mayberry Days.

    Another of Griffith’s famous roles was as the title character in the law show "Matlock," which aired from 1986 through 1995.

    Griffith's career also included stints on Broadway, notably "No Time for Sergeants;" movies such as Elia Kazan's "A Face in the Crowd;" and records. He was inducted into the Academy of Television Arts Hall of Fame in 1992 and in 2005, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, one of the country's highest civilian honors.

    Griffith’s family released the following statement on Tuesday: “Andy Griffith passed away, after an illness, during the early morning on July 3 at his home in Manteo, N.C., with his wife Cindi at his side. He was 86 years old. Mr. Griffith has been laid to rest on his beloved Roanoke Island. His favorite causes were Outer Banks Conservationists and the Griffith Scholarship Fund at UNC-Chapel Hill.”

    Griffith’s wife, Cindi, also released a statement, saying: "Andy was a person of incredibly strong Christian faith and was prepared for the day he would be called Home to his Lord. He is the love of my life, my constant companion, my partner, and my best friend. I cannot imagine life without Andy, but I take comfort and strength in God's Grace and in the knowledge that Andy is at peace and with God."

    --The Associated Press contributed

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