A beloved TV legend has died at the age of 86. Andy Griffith, best know for his roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock, passed this morning around 7am at his home in Dare County, North Carolina. Close friend and former University of North Carolina President Bill Friday confirmed the death.
Born in Mount Airy, North Carolina (supposedly the inspiration for the fictional town of Mayberry), Griffith began acting while in grade school. He attended UNC in Chapel Hill, played roles in several student operettas and graduated with a bachelor degree in music. He taught English for a few years and began to write and perform monologues, giving voice to rural backwoods characters. That led to a monologue record release which became number nine on the charts in 1954.
In 1955, he starred in a a one-hour teleplay version of No Time for Sergeants — the tale of a good-natured and over-sized country boy who joins the Air Force. That became a full-length Broadway play (where he met future co-star Don Knotts) and a feature film. Griffith followed that up with the 1957 musical, Destry Rides Again.