It's undeniable that actor Andy Griffith is one of the most iconic TV stars of all time. Generations of families have enjoyed watching The Andy Griffith Show with Griffith leading the town of Mayberry as Sheriff Andy Taylor. In addition to the popular sitcom, Griffith also starred on Matlock later in life which is also widely beloved and constantly appears in reruns.
Throughout his life, Griffith was married three times to Barbara Bray Edwards, Greek actress Solica Cassuto, and third wife Cindi Knight. Though the beloved actor passed away from a heart attack in 2012, he will always be remembered for his contributions to the TV world.
Though fans are most likely much more familiar with his on-screen son Opie, played by Ron Howard, Griffith was actually a father in real life as well. He had two children -- daughter Dixie Griffith and son Andy Griffith Jr.
Andy Samuel Griffith Jr
Sam Griffith was the first child adopted by the actor and his first wife Barbara Bray Edwards. He worked as a real-estate developer, opting not to follow in the footsteps of his mom (also an actor) and father Andy. But after his parents divorced as a teenager, Sam's personal life suffered and a rift formed between him and his father as he began to suffer from alcoholism.
Tragically, Sam passed away at the age of 38 from liver failure after years of alcohol abuse. His sister Dixie said that her father was just too heartbroken from the loss to actually attend her brother's funeral.
"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."
Dixie Nann Griffith
Dixie, also adopted, was the only daughter of Andy Griffith. Growing up, the family would spend a lot of time up in North Carolina, where the actor was free to live as far from the Hollywood lifestyle as possible. She never grew up thinking of Griffith as an actor. Though she's incredibly proud of all of his accomplishments, he was just her dad and always made time to spend time with her regardless of how much time he spent working on his TV show.
"For the millions of his fans and people who loved him, he represented something else. But he was my dad," Dixie explained to the Denver Post.
"So many people wanted to be a part of him. It goes back to the time when his show was on. It was such a sweet show, representing Americana at its best," she said. "We long for that in a way -- the easier times, the gentler times."
Dixie definitely grew up out of the limelight and doesn't even remember visiting her father's sets as a child. Her father was incredibly protective of his family's private life which is very refreshing to hear. But despite her father's success, Dixie never had any desire to work in show business and currently enjoys her low-key life in Denver, Colorado.
"I could have been on the producers roster. I chose not to. Same goes for growing up. I didn't grow up in the spotlight. Of course," she said, "this was before people hid in the bushes outside your door and there were cameras everywhere. My dad was fiercely protective of us. I respected his privacy all my life. I have kept a pretty low profile, which I still plan on doing."