Television Icon Andy Griffith Dead at 86

Image634769020824346948Emergency medical crews responded to Andy Griffith's home in Dare County, North Carolina this morning around 7am according to a local law enforcement spokesman.  Griffith, who introduced countless millions to bluegrass and a simple way of life through his 1960’s TV show and subsequent reruns for more than 4 decades was dead at age 86.

Griffith was born in Mount Airy, North Carolina, a city often mentioned in the dialogue spoken by the characters on the Andy Griffith show about live in the slow-moving fictional town of Mayberry, North Carolina, which was widely believed to have been based on Griffith's own hometown.  The show ran on the CBS Television network from 1960 to 1968 and featured a recurring role of a fictitious mountain family band “The Darlings,” played by The Dillards,  with actor Denver Pyle as their jug-playing, mountain wisdom spewing, father and actress Maggie Peterson as sister Charlene.  The Dillards' roots sank deep into the mainstream of popular music.

The Grascals Terry Eldredge on Andy Griffith
Andy Griffith became more than an icon.  He represented American family values and has given comfort and hope in these uncertain times.  He gave The Dillards (The Darlings) an opportunity to be part of this.  Andy was kind, generous and patient with an inexperienced group of pickers from the Ozark Mountains.  Andy Griffith’s impact on the world will last forever,” -Rodney Dillard.  (Rodney appeared in six episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (1963-1966), Return to Mayberry TV movie (1986) and composer of the Andy Griffith Show Reunion TV special (1993). 

Maggie Peterson, who played the role of Charlene Dillard on The Andy Griffith Show (1963-1968) kept in contact with Andy throughout the years.  Today in a tearful statement, she said “The passing of Andy leaves me so saddened.  It feels like the presence that kept us steady in life is now gone.   The Darling family was treated with such respect on the show.  These could have been ridiculous characters without Andy’s respectful reaction to us.  Everyone will truly miss him.  Thank God we have those beautiful episodes to keep us company.   He enhanced my life and I will miss him so.”

More information The Dillards (The Darlings)

In 1962, The Dillards, who had a new recording contract with Elektra Records, were asked by the producers of The Andy Griffith Show to play a bluegrass-playing family (The Darlings), whose patriarch was to played by popular Hollywood actor Denver Pyle… and to this day The Dillards are seen nearly every day somewhere in the world thanks to the still enormous popularity of The Andy Griffith Show re-runs.  Rodney Dillard wrote and collaborated with others to write such classic songs as “There Is A Time”, “The Darlin’ Boys”, “Ebo Walker”, and “Dooley.”

Griffith created another memorable character, the folksy defense lawyer in "Matlock" in the 1980s and '90s.

Griffith underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery In 2000 and in 2007 had hip surgery after a fall.

Among his many honors, Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005.


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