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“There is no doubt in my mind why Andy Griffith and the shows he starred in and produced were so beloved by Americans and people around the world,” Norman Brokaw, who had been his agent for more than 50 years, said in a statement. “Behind his immense talent was simply a wonderful person.”

Griffith’s television series resumed in 1986 with “Matlock,” which aired through 1995.

On this light-hearted legal drama, Griffith played a cagey Harvard-educated attorney who was Southern-bred and -mannered with a leisurely law practice in Atlanta.

Decked out in his seersucker suit in a steamy courtroom (air conditioning would have spoiled the mood), Matlock could toy with a witness and tease out a confession like a folksy Perry Mason.

This character _ law-abiding, fatherly and lovable _ was like a latter-day homage to Sheriff Andy Taylor, updated with silver hair and a shingle.

In short, Griffith would always be best known as Sheriff Taylor from the television show set in a North Carolina town not too different from Griffith’s own hometown of Mount Airy, which is located near the state line with Virginia, about 120 miles northwest of Raleigh.

In 2007, Griffith said “The Andy Griffith Show,” which initially aired from 1960 to 1968, had never really left and was seen somewhere in the world every day. A reunion movie, “Return to Mayberry,” was the top-rated TV movie of the 1985-86 season.

Griffith set the show in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., where Sheriff Taylor was the dutiful nephew who ate pickles that tasted like kerosene because they were made by his loving Aunt Bee, played by the late Frances Bavier. His character was a widowed father who offered gentle guidance to son Opie, played by little Ron Howard, who grew up to become the Oscar-winning director of “A Beautiful Mind.”

“His love of creating, the joy he took in it whether it was drama or comedy or his music, was inspiring to grow up around,” Howard said in a statement. “The spirit he created on the set of `The Andy Griffith Show’ was joyful and professional all at once. It was an amazing environment.”

Don Knotts was the goofy Deputy Barney Fife, while Jim Nabors joined the show as Gomer Pyle, the cornpone gas pumper. George Lindsey, who played the beanie-wearing Goober, died in May.

Griffith and Knotts had become friends while performing in “No Time for Sergeants,” and remained so until Knotts’ death in 2006 at 81.

Knotts’ widow, Francey Yarborough Knotts, said in a statement Griffith was in good spirits when she spoke with him June 1, his birthday.

“Don and I loved Andy very much,” she said. “Andy and Don had a great friendship and a great creative partnership. Throughout their lives, they continued to have fun together and discuss the art of comedy and acting.”

Nabors said he saddened to hear the news at his home in Honolulu.

“I talked to Andy a couple of weeks ago,” he said. “I really don’t know what to say. It’s very personal.”

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