Andy Griffith dies at 86

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Beloved TV star Andy Griffith died at his home in Manteo, North Carolina, on Tuesday morning. He was 86.

Former University of North Carolina President Bill Friday confirmed the passing of his close friend to WITN News.

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Griffith became a household name for his portrayal of a small-town sheriff on "The Andy Griffith Show," which aired from 1960 to 1968. His character, Andy Taylor, was a widower in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., which was thought to be modeled after Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, N.C. His character encountered daily drama from his sidekick Deputy Barney Fife (Don Knotts) as well as his young son, Opie (Ron Howard).

The actor went on to star in another long-running TV series: "Matlock." He played Ben Matlock, a no frills criminal defense lawyer who used his smarts to get people to confess in dramatic courtroom scenes. The show aired from 1986 to 1995.

Griffith also appeared in other TV shows — including the original "Hawaii Five-O," "The Bionic Woman," "Fantasy Island," and "Dawson's Creek" — as well as films.

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Outside of acting, Griffith was an accomplished gospel singer who won a Grammy Award in 1997 for his album I Love to Tell the Story — 25 Timeless Hymns.

The actor had health issues through the years. In the 1980s he was diagnosed with Guillain–Barré syndrome, a disorder of the nervous system which caused him to be paralyzed for seven months. In 2000, he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery. In 2007, he had hip surgery after a fall.

Griffith is survived by his wife Cindi Knight, whom he married in 1983. He was married twice previously, first to Barbara Bray Edwards — the mother of his two children, Dixie Griffith and the late Sam Griffith — and then Greek actress Solica Cassuto.

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