Andy Griffith, star of The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock and an American television and film icon, died this morning in his Dare County, North Carolina home at the age of 86, confirned his close friend Bill Friday, former University of North Carolina President, to a local NBC affiliate.

Griffith, who was born in North Carolina, was best known for his role as Mayberry Sheriff Andy Taylor on CBS's The Andy Griffith Show, which aired from 1960-1968 and also launched the careers of Ron Howard, who played Opie Taylor as a child star, and Don Knotts, Deputy Barney Fife.

Howard chimed in on Twitter as a reaction to his previous mentor's death. "Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy," Howard wrote.

U.S. Senator Kay Hagan from North Carolina also acknowledged Griffith's contribution to American culture and the state of North Carolina. "His show was known not only in our nation, but around the world," she said when she visited Eastern Carolina this morning, reports WITN News. "My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

Just two months ago, Griffith remarked on the death of his longtime friend, George Lindsey, who played Goober Pyle on The Andy Griffith Show. "I had great respect for his talent and his human spirit," Griffith wrote of Lindsey at the time. "In recent years, we spoke often by telephone. Our last conversation was a few days ago … I am happy to say that as we found ourselves in our eighties, we were not afraid to say 'I love you." That was the last thing George and I had to say to each other. 'I love you.'"

Griffith received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President George W. Bush.

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