For eight seasons, Americans rarely missed an episode of the Andy Griffith Show and the lovable Sheriff Andy Taylor. Ending in 1986, many might not remember that America’s beloved Andy Taylor was created thanks to an entirely different show, The Danny Thomas Show. During an episode, Danny is caught running a stop sign and is ultimately arrested for it. Full of comedic moments, the sheriff who arrested Danny was none other than Andy Griffith playing Andy Taylor. The small moment led to a defining role in television history. But while most remember Andy Griffith as a prime example of a great person, his daughter, Dixie, recently opened up about her father and the legacy he left behind.
While married to his first wife, Barbara Bray, both she and Andy Griffith decided to adopt children. They ended up adopting two children, Dixie and Sam. Although they had what appeared to be the all-American family, behind closed doors, it was an entirely different picture. Both Andy and Bray argued a great deal and occasionally drank too much. After the children turned into teenagers the couple called it quits, divorcing.
Struggling With The Loss Of A Child
Although their marriage had ended, they continued to be a part of their children’s lives, which led to Andy Griffith doing whatever he could to help his son, Sam, with his alcohol abuse. Sadly, in 1996, at the age of 37, Sam passed away from his addiction, causing a great deal of pain for the family he left behind. Dixie recalled the toll it took on her father, stating, “It affected my dad on a very, very deep level. I went to my brother’s funeral service, but my dad wasn’t able to go. There would be too many magazines and cameras, and it just wasn’t a good place for him to be.”
Not only helming the successful Andy Griffith Show, but the celebrity also starred in Matlock, which ran from 1986 to 1995. And with that, came a great deal of fame. Being a massive celebrity on television can sometimes be hard to handle, but according to Dixie, her father never forgot where he came from and often found solace in the mountains of North Carolina. “[North Carolina], that’s where he was free. He would go into stores barefoot or without a shirt. He didn’t embody the Hollywood lifestyle.”
Andy Griffith Was More Than A Star
Being sure to always remember his family, even while filming, Dixie remembered the great times she had with Andy Griffith and her cherished summer memories. “During the summers, we’d go back to North Carolina and play volleyball and water ski. I would play with him in the pool, and he’d put me up on his shoulders. He’d always stop what he was doing to play with me.”
Passing away in 2012 at 86, Dixie insisted that Andy Griffith “left us with characters that emulate the best of American values. Andy Taylor was a father, leader, a friend and neighbor. Ben Matlock was the defense attorney who would fight to the bitter end.”