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June 6

What Happened To Andy Griffith’s Children: Sam Griffith and Dixie Griffith

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Andy Griffith starred in one of television’s most iconic and warmly remembered comedies, The Andy Griffith Show. He played as Sheriff Andy Taylor – a father we all wanted and the father we would love to be. 

He was hilarious, clever, disciplined, caring, and modest. With his relaxed attitude and friendly smile, Andy Griffith gave many generations of young men a model of what a good and awesome father should look like. Now, this makes us wonder, what is Andy Griffith to his two children: his daughter Dixie Griffith and his late son Andy Samuel Griffith Jr.

In 1949, Andy Griffith married Mayberry actress Barbara Bray Edwards who he met in college at the University of North Carolina, where they both studied music. However, during their marriage, the couple found out that they can’t have children. So, they agreed to adopt instead and took home two infants a year apart from each other.

RELATED: “Fishin’ Hole:” The Song that Lit The Andy Griffith Show

Andy Samuel Griffith Jr.

Andy was more recognized as Sam Griffith and was a real-estate developer.

Sadly, Sam died on January 17, 1996, from cirrhosis of the liver and other health problems which he had developed after years of alcoholism and drug use. He was only 38.

According to The National Enquirer, Sam got in and out of trouble, and Andy had a hard time understanding his son that he started giving up in despair. It is said that Sam admired his famous father so much but was bothered by the pressure that came with being his son. He also often thought like a black sheep and believed his father hated him for the reason that he wasn’t his TV son, “Opie” – the character played by Ron Howard.

Things got worse for Sam when he was accused of hitting his expecting wife, Reese Denise, which in the end prompted her to have a miscarriage. Reese was only two months pregnant then – in addition to losing her baby, she also got serious injuries with a broken finger.

Sam admitted to his crimes on the court that had him placed for a total of three years of unsupervised probation. Unfortunately, after serving sixty days in jail, Sam went on tumbling into trouble again. 

Andy stopped communicating with Sam in the long run, stating that he had “emotionally disinherited” him. 

But just before Sam passed away, he tried reaching out to his father for the last time. He wrote his father a letter filled with sorrow and repentance – literally begging for one last chance to be his son and friend. But, unfortunately, his desperate plea was left unheard as the letter was never sent.

Sam was found dead with the letter dropped along his fallen body atop a desk at his home.

Andy was quite upset to receive the sad news and took his son’s death very hard. However, the actor was not able to attend his son’s funeral as “there would be too many magazines and cameras, and it just wasn’t a good place for him to be.”

Dixie Nann Griffith

According to sources, Dixie was born in North America and was raised in an orphanage home before Andy and Barbara adopted her into their family.

Unlike her brother, Dixie had a far more functional relationship with Andy. With so many people wanting to be a part of the famous actor’s life, Dixie said he was just a father to her. She insisted that Andy took excellent care of the family and was fiercely protective of them.

Despite having a celebrity as her father, Dixie chose to lead a quiet life away from the cameras. She said she could have been on the producer’s roster, but she decided not to. Instead, she tried to grow up away from the spotlight despite people hiding in the bushes outside their door and with cameras everywhere. “I have kept a pretty low profile, which I still plan on doing,” she said.

The Life With The Griffiths

Although Dixie grew up with The Andy Griffith Show, she said she was so young to visit the set. Still, she remembered enjoying it on the TV as she grew older.

In fact, she would often relate to the show. Whenever Opie ended up getting in trouble in some episodes, even if it were very naïve and harmless, Sheriff Taylor would bring Opie to his room and give him some good lectures.

“I could almost relate to [Opie’s] fear of punishment because my dad was a very strict disciplinarian,” Dixie said. “He was a very moral man and had high standards of what was right and wrong.”

Andy and his family lived in California – where the show was filmed – but the Griffiths find time to visit their home in North Carolina, especially during summers.

Dixie described their time in North Carolina at her father’s estate on Roanoke Sound as “superior and fantastic.” They would enjoy the glorious summer days having a picnic, boating, water skiing, and playing volleyball.

In the late 1940s, Barbara played the lead female role in the longest-running outdoor symphonic drama, “The Lost Colony,” while Andy played the role of Sir Walter Raleigh. Later, Dixie and Sam took minor roles as well.

Dixie remembered starting out as a “colonist child” in 1972, wherein she earned $10 a week. Their parents were fully supportive and thrilled that they were in the show.

Unfortunately, Andy and Barbara got divorced in 1972. Sam was only 14 while Dixie was 12 at that time. They went on to live with their mother, who was granted custody.

In 1973, Andy married Greek actress Solica Cassuto – a marriage that would only last eight years. Andy and Solica divorced in 1981. Two years later, the comedian married his third wife, Cindi Knight. The two lived happily until his death.

Born on June 1, 1926, in Mount Airy, North Carolina, Andy Griffith’s life was anything but a fairytale. It was marked by uncertainty and poverty.

His mother and father were extremely poor. They were forced to live with relatives and friends until his father was hired as a carpenter when he was three and was finally able to get a house.

Though he was a shy boy, his unique ability to make his friends laugh was undeniable. When Andy started to appreciate it, he began being confident with himself and gently came out of his shell. He knew early on that he was fated to be a stage performer, so he persisted in exploring his musical and theatrical talents. He also attended the school’s drama program.

Andy got his first breakthrough in the mid-1950s until he landed a part in the series that would essentially characterize Andy’s life: The Andy Griffith Show

On July 3, 2012, Andy died in his coastal home located in Manteo, North Carolina, at the age of 86 years. In a statement released by Andy’s family, it was said that the actor had suffered a heart attack. He was swiftly buried in the family gravesite just five hours after his demise. 

Before his death, Andy Griffith has accumulated a net worth of $60 million which Dixie Griffith and Cindi Knight have inherited.


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Andy Griffith, Dixie Griffith, Sam Griffith


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