A friend close to Andy Griffith is reporting that the star, best known for his role as "Andy Taylor" from 1960 to 1968, passed away this morning on Roanoke Island.
According to NBC's WITN News, "former UNC President Bill Friday, said that Andy Griffith died this morning in Dare County." He was 86 years old.
Dare County Sheriff Doug Doughtie, also confirmed to the news station that an ambulance was sent to Andy Griffith's home on Roanoke Island at 7 a.m. this morning.
Andrew Samuel "Andy" Griffith was born June 1 1926 in Mount Airy, North Carolina. The actor, director, producer, Grammy Award-winning Southern-gospel singer and writer, first gained prominence in director Elia Kazan's epic 1957 film, A Face in the Crowd.
But Griffith was best known for his television roles and as the lead character in the 1960–68 situation comedy, The Andy Griffith Show, plus the legal drama, Matlock. On Nov 9, 2005, Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former US President George W. Bush.
Griffith also performed as a cast member in The Lost Colony, a play still performed today on Roanoke Island where he lives.
Friday, a "close friend of the actor" said WITN News, confirmed his death a short while ago. The Dare County, N.C. sheriff later confirmed Griffith died at approximately 7 a.m. Judy Panitch, a rep for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to where the actor donated a great deal of time and funds, also confirmed Griffith's death to Fox411 Tuesday.
Twitter tributes have been pouring in:
Scotty McCreery @ScottyMcCreery
RIP Andy Griffith.. We lost a legend today that provided me and my family some great quality time around the tv filled with some good laughs.
Phillip Phillips @Phillips
Cant believe Andy Griffith passed away today. Loved his show. Prayers go out to the family. Use to watch it all the time with my papa.
We are so saddened to hear about the loss of Andy Griffith, a cherished member of our @tvland family. He will be greatly missed :( #RIP.
Ralph Macchio @ralphmacchio
Take a moment and whistle "The Andy Griffith Show" theme today - finger snap optional - RIP Andy Griffith.
Ron Howard @RealRonHoward
Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy.