Andy Griffith Passes Away, TV Land Schedules Marathon in Late Legend's Honor

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Andy Griffith, a true television legend responsible for a pair of iconic roles, passed away this morning at his residence in North Carolina. He was 86.

The sad news was first reported by WITN-TV through Griffth's close friend, UNC President Bill Friday.

Griffith rose to prominence in the 1960s as Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show and later starred in Mayberry R.F.D., Headmaster and The New Andy Griffith Show. In 1986, a new generation of TV viewers were introduced to the actor through his memorable role on Matlock.

He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by George W. Bush in 2005.

Tweeted former co-star Ron Howard upon hearing the news:

"His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy."

TV Land will pay tribute to the actor by airing a marathon of The Andy Griffith Show episodes on Wednesday, July 4 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST; and again on Saturday and Sunday, July 7 and 8, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Our thoughts go out to Griffith's wife, daughter and loved ones.

Matt Richenthal is the Editor in Chief of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter and on Google+.