Former UNC President Bill Friday says The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock actor died at his home in Dare County, North Carolina around 7 a.m.
Friday, who is a close friend of the actor, confirmed the news to WITN News.
Emergency medical crews responded to Griffith's home this morning, Dare County Sheriff J.D. Doughtie told WAVY.com.
Griffith, who was born in Mt. Airy, N.C., was launched to fame as Sheriff Andy Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show for the CBS from 1960-1968. On the show, Ron Howard played his son, Opie. He starred on other shows and in films, but found his greatest success again with legal drama Matlock, from 1986 to 1995. He played the title character, Ben Matlock.
In 2000, Griffith underwent quadruple heart-bypass surgery and in 2007 had hip surgery after a fall.
Griffith and his first wife, Barbara Bray Edwards, married in 1949. They were divorced in 1972 and she got custody of their daughter Dixie and he got custody of son Sam, who died in 1996 after years of alcoholism. His second marriage, to Greek actress Solica Cassuto, lasted eight years, from 1973 to 1981.
He and Cindi Knight were married on April 12, 1983, when she was 27 and he was 56. A private man, he told the Virginian-Pilot in 2008 in a lengthy profile by Mal Vincent that he's friendly and outgoing to a point, but has been known to turn down requests for autographs.
"When my wife, Cindi, and I go somewhere and we don't want to be recognized. She says, 'Don't talk.' "
By Ann Oldenburg, USA TODAY