How Did Andy Griffith Die? What to Know About 'The Andy Griffith Show' and 'Matlock' Star's Death

It's been nearly eight years since legendary actor Andy Griffith died, and there may be some details that fans don't know about The Andy Griffith Show and Matlock star's death. Griffith died on July 3, 2012, at around 7 a.m. He was 86 years old. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the actor had suffered a heart attack just 24 hours prior to his death. This was ultimately ruled as his cause of death.

Interestingly, Griffith's burial took place less than five hours after his death, in the Griffith family cemetery at his coastal home on Manteo, Roanoke Island, in Dare County, North Carolina. At the time, a spokesperson for the family stated, "It had been planned for some time. This was the wish of his family." The outlet noted that Griffith's body was lowered into his grave at around 11:30 AM. Regarding the non-traditional process, Larry F. Stegall — executive director of the state’s Funeral Directors Association — said, "It’s not very common. I don’t recall having heard of it, and I’ve been here 32 years." However, Stegall added that, "the family’s wishes are always abided by."

Griffith was most well-known for two iconic TV roles: as Sheriff Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show (1960–1968), and defense attorney Ben Matlock on Matlock (1986–1995). He also reprised the roles in various made-for-TV movies and reunions. Griffiths final television appearance is cited as 2003's The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back To Mayberry. After this, Griffith would go on to appear in a handful of films, such as 2007's Waitress, until his death in 2012.

Notably, Griffiths life almost went a completely different direction, as the beloved actor almost became a musical pastor when he was young. "When I was in high school, I was not athletic, we didn’t have money, and I was not a good student," Griffith told American Profile. "But when music came into my life, with the trombone and the singing, I became somebody. That is, I became an individual, where an athlete is a real individual, or a fine student is a real individual."

He then explained that while attending the University of North Carolina he considered switching his major from sociology to music, which eventually led him down the path to stardom. "I went to the bishop and said, 'Can I major in music and still be a minister?' and he said no," Griffith recalled. "I went back and prayed over it for a couple of weeks, and I went back to the bishop and said, 'I’m going to major in music.' So that was it."