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Andy Griffith Dead At 86: A Look Back At His Career Highlights

Andy Griffith

It’s a sad day for TV fans: Andy Griffith died in his home in North Carolina this morning at age 86, a close friend of the actor told WITN News. The cause of his death is still unknown, but EMTs were called to his house at around 7 a.m.

Griffith, of course, was most well known for playing Andy Taylor, the sheriff of sleepy NC town Mayberry on The Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968. If you somehow managed to miss the ubiquitous reruns of the beloved show during your childhood, TV Land’s got full episodes and clips ready for your nostalgic streaming pleasure. Not content to rest on his laurels as America’s favorite sheriff, Griffith went on to have a successful career in TV movies before starring as the titular defense lawyer in Matlock, which ran from 1986-1995.

“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,” Andy Griffith’s youngest star, Ron Howard, told Deadline today. “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. … His passing is sad. But he lived and a great rich life.”

In addition to singing on several of his movies and TV shows, Griffith was also gospel recording artist with more than a dozen albums under his belt. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.

Here are photos from a few of his career highlights:

View Photo Gallery

[Photos: Getty Images, CBS, Arista Nashville]

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Ron Howard Embarrasses Himself For Obama With Andy Griffith, The Fonz

Unlike most child stars, Ron Howard hasn’t made a fool of himself by cashing in on America’s affection for Happy Days and The Andy Griffith Show. He has an Oscar. He runs Imagine Enteraintment, a production company that has been behind everything from American Gangster to 24 to Changeling to Arrested Development. He doesn’t have any reason to parade his aging ass around for nostalgia’s sake. Until now.

To show how strongly he feels about supporting Barack Obama in the Funny Or Die clip above, Howard strips his clothes, shaves his beard, dons a wig and picks up a fishing pole so he can chat with TV daddy Andy Griffith in black and white. He then puts on his finest ’50s duds to cavort with Henry Winkler, better known as the Fonz. Seems the Fonz is an Obamacon, and this close to admitting he was wr-wr-wr-wr-WRONG to elect Bush.

Whether or not this will affect anyone’s vote, it’s still surprising to see Howard subject himself to this treatment. After the jump, check out a classic SNL skit from 1982, where Eddie Murphy drives him into a rage by refusing to believe that he’s actually a director—and not a virgin.

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