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TV legend Andy Griffith dies

Found fame with Andy Griffith Show, Matlock

In recent years, Andy Griffith's big and small screen appearances had been sporadic, with Keri Russell's Waitress movie in 2007 being one of his last projects. While more out of sight than in prior decades, the man America loved from Mayberry was hardly out of mind.

Famous names from former castmate and director Ron Howard to singer Amy Grant are tweeting their condolences and memories of Andy Griffith.

The veteran actor appeared in around 70 Hollywood projects over the course of his more than five decades in the biz.

Griffith died at his home in North Carolina on the morning of Tuesday, July 3. He was 86.

Director Ron Howard, who starred alongside the TV legend in The Andy Griffith Show tweeted: "His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful."

Paul Begala tweeted a similarly suitable sentiment, given Griffith's beloved role as heaven-on-earth Mayberry's sheriff: "With the passing of Andy Griffith, heaven just became a little more neighborly."

Country and Christian music hit-maker Amy Grant retweeted this statement: "Go Rest High on that Mountain, Andy Griffith."

Fox's Greta Van Susteren encouraged followers to share their memories of the acting legend. Within minutes of posting, nearly 20 people had weighed in. Most alluded to the theme song (that iconic whistle) and memories from the show that shared the TV vet's name.

Though Griffith shot to fame for his role in the 1960s series, he would become known to younger generations in later years. He played a lawyer in Matlock for nearly a decade during the 1980s and 1990s.

In the 1980s, several newspapers reported Griffith suffered from Guillain-Barre syndrome, an infection of the nerves. A hospital spokeswoman at St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, Calif., reported at the time that the disease attacked "some persons who were immunized for the swine flu several years ago." It also was reported that the viral infection caused so much damage that Griffith was paralyzed from the knees down. He couldn't walk for seven months.

In 2007, the same year Waitress came out, Griffith fell. The accident required hip surgery. Seven years prior, the actor underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery.

Griffith was married to third wife, Cindi Knight, for nearly 30 years.

Photo credit: WENN.com
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