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Published:July 6th, 2012 12:51 EST
Andy Griffith: "America's Favorite Sheriff" -- and Lawyer -- Dies at 86

Andy Griffith: "America's Favorite Sheriff" -- and Lawyer -- Dies at 86

By Garrett Godwin

Television lost another beloved icon this day before Independence Day with Andy Griffith, who died Tuesday morning at the age of 86.

He first won our hearts as easygoing Mayberry lawman Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960 to 1968.  The show also launched the career of Ron Howard, who played his son Obie,  and named Griffith as "America`s Favorite Sheriff".  The Andy Griffith Show, which spawned Gomer Pyle, USMC (1964-69) and Mayberry RFD (1968-71), remains popular today through reruns in syndication and DVD releases.

Griffith then made a comeback in the mid-1980s as Matlock, the titular Southern lawyer that became the new Perry Mason; he reprise the role on Diagnosis Murder in 1997, and had a recurring role on Dawson`s Creek.

The actor received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from George W. Bush in 2005.

Griffith is survived by Cindi Knight, his wife of 29 years, and Dixie, his daughter from his previous marriage to Barbara Bray Edwards, with whom he shared an adopted son, Samuel, who died in 1996 after years of alcoholism.