TV icon Andy Griffith passed away this morning at his home in Manteo, NC. The actor was 86 years old. In a statement to Deadline.com, Griffith's co-star Ron Howard, who portrayed son Opie Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show", commented on the actor's passing:
"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."
"The Andy Griffith" show was set in the fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina. Griffith's portrayal of law enforcer Andy Taylor earned him the title of 'America's Favorite Sheriff.' The show ran from 1960 - 68. He later appeared on "Mayberry R.F.D.," as well as the long-running series "Matlock." He also made numerous guest appearances on "Dawsen's Creek."
Griffith starred in the Broadway musical, Destry Rides Again, and is featured on the show's original Broadway cast recording. He played Tom Destry, a character created for the screen by Jimmy Stewart. He starred opposite Dolores Gray as saloon girl Frenchy.
Griffith was also a Grammy award-winning southern gospel singer. In 2005, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush.