Andy Griffith, America's Favorite Sheriff, Dies at 86

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Andy Griffith, the award-winning actor who will always be known as "American's Favorite Sheriff" for his turn on "The Andy Griffith Show", died today (June 3) after an ambulance was called to his home on Roanoke Island. His long-time friend, former UNC President Bill Friday, confirmed the actor/musician's passing with WITN.

Griffith, who was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina in June of 1926, earned a bachelor of music degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Following graduation, he taught for a few years Goldsboro High School in Goldsboro, North Carolina, during which time he began to experiment with writing. One of his first major contributions, "What it Was, Was Football", was released as a single in 1953. The monologue, which was performed by Griffith, was told from the perspective of a backwoodsman who was attempting to figure out the game of football. It reached number nine on the charts in 1954, and helped cement the actor's place as a comedian.

After spreading his talents throughout a handful of television programs and plays, Griffith enjoyed his feature film debut in the 1957 picture "A Face in the Crowd", which allowed the actor to stretch his dramatic legs. The film, which was directed by Elia Kazan, also featured performances from Patricia Neal, Walter Matthau, Tony Franciosa, and Lee Remick.

However, in 1960, Andy Griffith landed a television program that would introduce his comedic chops to those who had yet to experience them. "The Andy Griffith Show," which featured Griffith as Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor, was an instant hit with television audiences, thank in part to the participation of Don Knotts. Although Griffith never received a writing credit for the program, he reportedly contributed greatly to each episode's development. The show ran for eight years, though Griffith left during the last season to pursue other opportunities. The surviving cast reunited in 1986 for the made-for-television movie "Return to Mayberry", which was followed up by two more reunions in 1993 and 2003.

In addition to his numerous television appearance -- he would later star in the popular mystery series "Matlock" -- Griffith also recorded a few gospel and country albums. His 1996 effort, "I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns", was certified platinum by the RIAA. In 2008, Griffith made an appearance in music video for Brad Paisley's "Waitin' on a Woman".

Andy Griffith's death has made an impact on those folks who fondly remember watching the gifted comedian/actor in his numerous film and television roles. You can experience some of their condolences by investigating the Twitter posts you see positioned below. And if you find yourself mindlessly whistling the theme from "The Andy Griffith Show" today, I seriously doubt anyone is going to mind. In fact, carve out some time and enjoy the episode below.

For more information, stop by Famous Dead.

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