His acting career began with the role of Sir Walter Raleigh in Paul Green's outdoor pageant, "The Lost Colony," in Manteo. The pageant was about Raleigh's failed attempt to establish an English colony on Roanoke Island, where Manteo is located.
Griffith helped Long's father build the house where the family lived in a community of bohemian artists with little money, sharing quart jars of homemade vegetable soup with each other.
He and his first wife, Barbara Edwards, had two children, Sam, who died in 1996, and Dixie. His second wife was Solica Cassuto. Both marriages ended in divorce. He married his third wife, Cindi Knight Griffith, in 1983.
"She and I are not only married, we're partners," Griffith said in 2007. "And she helps me very much with everything."
Griffith also suffered over the years with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare neurological disorder that can cause sudden paralysis. In 1987, he told the Associated Press that he wore plastic leg braces during the making of "Return to Mayberry."
"I've stopped wearing the braces," he said then. "They squeaked and the soundmen could hear them. I took them off and never put them back on. I have pain, but I'm 100 percent OK. But the pain's been with me so long I almost don't notice it."
He had suffered a heart attack and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2000.
AP Television Writer Frazier Moore and Entertainment Writer Jake Coyle, both in New York, contributed to this report.
Martha Waggoner can be reached at —http://twitter.com/mjwaggonernc
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