On "Matlock," which aired from 1986 through 1995, Griffith played a cagey Harvard-educated defense attorney who was Southern-bred and -mannered with a practice in Atlanta.
Although Griffith never did seek public office, a Wisconsin man changed his name to Andy Griffith and ran for sheriff in 2006, in an ode to Griffith’s character Sheriff Andy Taylor of the fictional Mayberry, N.C.
However, for the real Andy Griffith, mimicry wasn’t the greatest form of flattery, and he sued the Wisconsin man for violating trademark, copyright and privacy laws. A federal judge sided in favor of the impostor, saying his actions were a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment.
Griffith had history of supporting Democratic causes and candidates, most recently in 2010, when he starred in a $700,000 ad campaign selling President Obama’s contentious health care reform law and changes in Medicare.
As the sheriff of the fictional town known as Mayberry, Griffith became one of TV's most beloved characters in the show that carried his name, which ran from 1960-1968. Future film director Ron Howard played Griffith's young son, Opie.
He made his debut as the avuncular sheriff in early 1960 during a guest spot on CBS' "The Danny Thomas Show," in which Sheriff Taylor picked up nightclub entertainer Danny for speeding through Mayberry on his way to Miami
His chance came in 1960, when Sheldon Leonard, the producer of "The Danny Thomas Show," developed an idea that would exploit the actor's homespun image: Griffith would play Andy Taylor, the sheriff in a series set in a mythical North Carolina town called Mayberry.
Before his television career, Griffith made his screen acting debut in Elia Kazan's 1957 classic, A Face in the Crowd, in which he portrayed a country boy who schemes his way onto television and into politics.
In college he majored in music, and as a young man, he set off for New York to audition for roles in operettas and jobs in choirs. But Griffith said the auditions failed to yield him a single offer.
In a career that spanned half a century, actor and comedian Andy Griffith starred in five different television series, made more than 30 movies and even recorded a Grammy Award-winning gospel album.
In a 2007 interview with The Associated Press, Griffith said "The Andy Griffith Show," which initially aired from 1960 to 1968, was seen somewhere in the world every day. A reunion movie, "Return to Mayberry," was the top-rated TV movie of the 1985-86 season.