Andy Griffith Dies of Heart Attack - His Long-Lasting Legacy

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When Hollywood icon Andy Griffith passed away from a heart attack earlier this week at the age of 86, the country lost one of its most beloved stars. Griffith represented a time when things were a little simpler, and he represented the American values of privacy, kindness, hard work and charity. The country fell in love with him as a small-town TV sheriff and did it all over again as a brilliant but simple TV lawyer. It seemed like no matter what Andy did, his public just adored him.

Griffith was a showbiz veteran when he first made a splash with the American public on "The Danny Thomas Show." He played the sheriff of a small, slightly bizarre town and was so memorable and funny, they spun that character off onto his own series. "The Andy Griffith Show" debuted in 1960 and featured Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Don Knotts as his deputy Barney Fife, and a young Ron Howard as his son, Opie.

For eight years, audiences tuned in every week to see what kind of crazy things would be going on in Mayberry. Everything about the show was infectious, from the whistling theme song to the cast of characters in the small town that included Floyd the Barber and the Pyle brothers, Gomer and Goober. Gomer Pyle was such a popular character that he got his own spin-off, "Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C." that fared pretty well in the ratings too.

Then in 1986 Griffith struck TV-gold again. Starring as the wise but sort of folksy country lawyer in "Matlock," Andy would bring his southern charm into living rooms on a weekly basis yet again. This time, there was always some sort of mystery that had to be solved, and it was always up to Matlock and his team to not only save a falsely accused person but also expose who the real criminal was. Audiences enjoyed the series and several TV movies until the last one aired in 1995.

Andy was also a top-selling gospel and folk singer. He appeared on over fifteen albums over his career, selling thousands of copies of each album. In fact, in 1996, "I Love to Tell The Story: 25 Timeless Hymns" actually was certified platinum. Andy had two records sell to gold status as well. With his passing, the country loses another icon of a bygone era, but given that his two most successful shows are on in constant syndication, he'll never be completely forgotten.

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