Beloved actor Andy Griffith, 86, died peacefully this morning at his coastal home in Manteo, North Carolina. No cause of death has been given.
Griffith's career spanned more than a half-century on stage, film and television. But you probably remember him as the wise sheriff in The Andy Griffith Show and/or the rumpled defense lawyer in the TV series Matlock.
But did you know about his political activities?
Back in 1984, Griffith campaigned on behalf of Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt when Hunt challenged arch conservative U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina). Griffith even recorded a 30-second commercial supporting Hunt.
"Do you know what a North Carolina Democrat is?” Griffith said in the ad. "It's somebody that sometimes votes Democratic and sometimes votes Republican – but always votes for the best man."
Griffith, however, declined to run in a June 6, 1989, call to state Sen. Marc Basnight.
"Andy told me, "I'm an actor. That's all I've ever known and all I've ever done,'" Basnight said at the time. By the way, Helms was elected to a fourth term in November 1990.
Griffith was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President George W. Bush in 2005.
Griffith's political activist resurfaced in a big way three years later, when he and actor/director Ron "Opie" Howard reprised their Mayberry roles in an online video Ron Howard’s Call to Action. The two encouraged people to vote and endorsed Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Watch the video:
North Carolina went Democratic for the first time in 32 years and Obama-Biden won the election.
Griffith also recorded TV ads for North Carolina governors Mike Easley (2000/2004) and Bev Perdue (2008) and spoke at the inauguration ceremonies of both.
Here's an ad from actor Andy Griffith endorsing Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beverly Perdue:
Most recently, in 2010, Griffith starred in an ad promoting Medicare and touting Obamacare.
"This year, like always, we'll have our guaranteed benefits and with the new health care law, more good things are coming," Griffith said. "I think you're going to like it."
Watch the video:
Griffth died just five days after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act.
Rest in peace, Andy, rest in peace.