There are many fond memories of Andy Griffith. He was the model father on television for many years. His starring roles in The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock became his legacy.
What many people don’t know is that in 1983, Griffith was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. This disease is an incredibly uncommon occurrence. There are only about 3,000 to 6,000 people who develop this disease every year, according to the CDC.
Nonetheless, the star of The Andy Griffith Show was one of the people who was diagnosed with it. In his own words, Griffith said, “in a matter of hours, my legs were paralyzed.”
However, Griffith did his best not to let the disorder slow him down. After six months of intensive therapy, he was able to recover from the disorder.
Then, in 1986, he was able to start a new show. Matlock began airing in 1986. Griffith remained at the helm for the entire length of the show until 1995.
His daughter, Dixie Griffith, said that the Guillain-Barré syndrome took a toll on him, though. In an interview with Closer Weekly in 2018, she noted that her father was never able to get back to being himself. During the interview, she talked about how the nerve disorder really affected her father.
“That was very crippling,” Dixie recalled. “He was hospitalized for a while, and I don’t believe he ever fully recovered.”
How ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Fell in Love With His First Wife, According to Dixie
The star of The Andy Griffith Show had two children – Andy Griffith Jr. and Dixie Griffith. Both of his children were from his first marriage with Barbara Griffith.
Andy Griffith met his first wife while they were both performing at the Carolina Playmakers Repertory Theater in UNC-Chapel Hill. According to Dixie, her father immediately took to Barbara Edwards – her maiden name.
Dixie remembered that “my dad was quite taken by my mom’s operatic soprano voice.”
Andy Griffith and Barbara got married in 1949, shortly after he graduated from the University of North Carolina. The two immediately began trying to get into show business. But it wasn’t working out for Andy in New York. So, the two moved back to North Carolina, where they traveled around as a performing duo.
During an interview with The Pilot in 2017, his daughter Dixie talked about the relationship she had with her father. She said that she grew up with him being famous so that it was never an oddity in her life.
“I never was in awe of him as an actor,” Dixie said. “He was just my dad. He was usually gone in the morning when I woke up, but typically he would be home in the afternoon.”