Andy Griffith, the actor most famous for playing a small-town sheriff on the appropriately titled “The Andy Griffith Show,” died Tuesday at his home on Roanoke Island, N.C. He was 86.
“The Andy Griffth” show ran for eight years, from 1960-1968, and 249 episodes – an almost unthinkable amount by today’s standards. It was a ratings and critical giant, between its viewership of 35 million and ranking as the ninth best show of all-time by TV Guide.
In addition to skyrocketing Griffith, who previously appeared on Broadway and in the 1957 Elia Kazan film “A Face in the Crowd,” to major stardom, “The Andy Griffith Show” also launched Don Knotts and Ron Howard.
Griffith’s second-most famous acting job was as a defense lawyer who specialized not only in exonerating his clients, but also finding the real killer on “Matlock,” which ran from 1986-1995 — nine seasons and 181 episodes.
Griffith had largely remained out of the spotlight in recent years, but he did have a memorable bit part in Adrienne Shelley’s 2007 film “Waitress” and a lead role in 2009’s “Play the Game,” alongside fellow TV veteran Doris Roberts. If you saw him on TV recently, it was likely on a Medicare commercial about healthcare reform.