Adoptive Parent Andy Griffith

Andy Griffith: His Life, Career and His Children's Adoption

Freedom Awards Ceremony - November 9, 2005
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Andy Samuel Griffith was born June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina. His parents were Carl Lee Griffith and Geneva Nunn. The family was so poor they had to live with relatives — they could not afford a home of their own until Griffith was 3 years old. 

Griffith was married three times. His first two marriages ended in divorce, then he married Cindi Knight on April 12, 1983. The couple remained married until his death on July 3, 2012. He died at home at the age of 86.

Griffith's Adopted Children 

Andy Griffith's first marriage to Barbara Edwards lasted from August 26, 1949, until October 16, 1972. The couple adopted two children together. Andrew Samuel Griffith, Jr. was born in 1957 and was known as Sam Griffith. A real-estate developer, Sam died in 1996.

The couple also adopted their daughter Dixie Nann. After Griffith's death, Dixie described her father as being "very hands-on" and "a lot of fun." She said he was very protective of both children, keeping them out of the media spotlight as much as possible. After the divorce, she lived with her mother. 

Griffith's Claims to Fame 

Griffith moved to New York City in 1953 with his first wife and started a song and dance act. One of his most famous monologues, "What It Was Was Football," was released commercially that same year. He became the guest monologist on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1954.

Then he won the role of Will Stockdale in the TV version of Levin's play, "No Time for Sergeants." He and was later nominated for a Tony for reprising his role for the Broadway production of "No Time for Sergeants." Griffith also earned a Tony nomination for his performance in the musical "Destry Rides Again." He made his feature film debut in "A Face in the Crowd" in 1957.

But Griffith is best known for his portrayal of small-town sheriff Andy Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show" from 1960 through 1968. He was also known for his portrayal of Southern lawyer Ben Matlock in the series "Matlock" from 1986 through 1995. When Griffith accepted a People's Choice Award for "Matlock" in 1986, he said the role was his favorite of all the characters he'd played. 

Andy Griffith won a Grammy Award for a gospel album in 1996: Best Southern Gospel, Country Gospel or Bluegrass Gospel Album, "I Love to Tell the Story, 25 Timeless Hymns." He was 70 years old at the time. 

Griffith showed up again in a country music video in 2008 for the Brad Paisley song, "Waitin' on a Woman."

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005. 

Fun Facts

  • Andy Griffith shared a birthday with Marilyn Monroe — both the same day and year.
  • Griffith graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1949 with a Bachelor of Music degree.
  • He considered himself a Democrat.
  • He was best friends with Don Knotts until Knotts passed away in 2006.
  • He was known for playing an acoustic guitar and singing gospel or folk-type music.