Iconic Film and Television Star Andy Griffith Has Passed Away at 86
Sad news arrives just before Independence Day as one of Hollywood's most beloved and iconic actors of film and television has passed away. WITN in North Carolina (via EW) reports that Andy Griffith has passed away at 86-years old. Former UNC President Bill Friday, a close friend of the actor confirmed the actor's passing to a local news network after the actor died at his home earlier this morning. Griffith became a television staple thanks to classic series like "The Andy Griffith Show" and "Matlock" not to mention being a staple of Ed Sullivan's show in the 50's, but he also had a presence on the big screen throughout his career.
In addition to guest appearances on shows like "The Bionic Woman," "The Love Boat" and more recently "Dawson's Creek," Griffith took time to take small, amusing roles in films like the spoof Spy Hard starring the late, great Leslie Nielsen and the indie Waitress starring Keri Russell. Of course, in his early film days, his roles were a little more substantial as in Elia Kazan’s critically acclaimed A Face in the Crowd and a film version of No Time for Sergeants, which also featured his TV co-star Don Knotts. Throughout his early years, Griffith also helped shape the mind and career of a very young Ron Howard, as the child star grew up on the classic TV program. Howard took the time to react to Griffith's passing (via Deadline):
"His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around. The spirit he created on the set of The Andy Griffith Show was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment. And I think it was a reflection of the way he felt about having the opportunity to create something that people could enjoy. It was always with respect and passion for the opportunity and really what it could offer people in a very unpretentious and earthy way. He felt he was always working in service of an audience he really respected and cared about. He was a great influence on me. His passing is sad. But he lived and a great rich life."
Andy Griffith was an American treasure, and leaves behind a legacy that will last well beyond his years. Griffith even ventured into music, something which was in his blood, by winning a Grammy for his 1997 album, I Love to Tell the Story: 25 Timeless Hymns. To further honor the actor, President George W. Bush bestowed upon Griffith the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. Hollywood has lost a true legend today, and our thoughts go out to Griffith's friends and family in this hard time. Rest in peace.