‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Meet Andy’s Two Children

by Atlanta Northcutt
(Photo by Darlene Hammond/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Andy Griffith’s TV son on The Andy Griffith Show is much more talked about than his two real children, so we’re going to explore Andy’s real-life family.

On The Andy Griffith Show, Ron Howard played “Opie,” the young son of the famous Mayberry Sheriff. The two spent much time together while on set, growing very close over time.

However, his two children are his true beloved ones. Andy Griffith’s son and daughter are adopted. His daughter is Dixie Nann Griffith and his late son is Andy Samuel Griffith Jr.

The actor and his first wife, Barbara Bray Edwards were together for 23 years, from 1949 to 1972. That’s a pretty great accomplishment and a commendable amount of time. While married, Andy and Barbara adopted their two children.

Andy’s Daughter Didn’t Want To Be Famous

Dixie explains why she chose not to be on The Andy Griffith Show.

“I could have been on the producer’s roster. I chose not to. Same goes for growing up. I didn’t grow up in the spotlight,” explains Dixie.

She still has animosity towards the paparazzi, which is completely understandable. They can start to follow celebrities and their children, constantly taking photos, and not respecting their privacy. Dixie claims paparazzi were hiding in her yard to begin snapping photos.

“Of course, this was before people hid in the bushes outside your door and there were cameras everywhere. My dad was fiercely protective of us,” she says. “I respected his privacy all my life. I have kept a pretty low profile, which I still plan on doing.”

Andy Griffith’s Greatest Loss

Andy’s late son, Andy Samuel Griffith Jr. went by Sam. He suffered from alcoholism, and he tragically lost the battle with his addiction at the young age of 38. In 1996, Sam passed away from cirrhosis of the liver, which is a common effect of long-term use of alcohol. It’s reported that he also suffered from other health problems.

“It affected my dad on a very, very deep level,” said Dixie during an interview with Fox News . “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.”

The loss of his son was very hard on Griffith. It especially hurt to learn why Sam passed away. As Dixie previously said, their father was “fiercely protective of them.”

Andy may have felt too much pain in feeling like he couldn’t protect his son from losing his life to alcoholism. Griffith would never admit that Sam had died from his addiction. Up until his death in 2012, the 86-year-old couldn’t and wouldn’t believe it. Sadly, while he was alive, he never came to terms with the reason Sam passed away.

Breaks From ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ & Stardom

Andy Griffith found peace while going to his home state of North Carolina. It was away from all the cameras, paparazzi, and overall noise. To Andy, North Carolina felt like freedom with fresh air, nature, and privacy.

“[North Carolina], that’s where he was free,” Dixie explains. “He would go into stores barefoot or without a shirt. He didn’t embody the Hollywood lifestyle.”

She also recalls great times spent with her father and family in North Carolina.

“During the summers, we’d go back to North Carolina and play volleyball and water ski,” she recalls. “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.”

Andy Griffith may have tragically lost his son, but it’s nice to think about the good and happy times he was able to spend with both his son and daughter. The joy and love he gave them never died, even after Andy passed away.