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Andy Griffith dead at 86; NC reacts

READ MORE: Andy Griffith dead at 86; NC reacts

DARE COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Iconic actor Andy Griffith, who made a living upholding his wholesome, southern image, died this morning in his home in Manteo. Now, people across the state are remembering the man and star.

Griffith was known worldwide for his depiction of a true gentleman in a town that anyone would be happy to call home. He was a North Carolina icon. From the fictional "Mayberry" and beyond, Griffith was a household name.

The North Carolina Division of Tourism says Griffith was monumental in helping to improve the state, specifically Hollywood East. In a statement it said: "His hit show 'Matlock,' filmed at Screen Gems Studios in Wilmington as well as many other locations along the North Carolina coast, gave an early boost to the state's film industry."

While shooting the eighth season of the crime drama in 1993, Griffith told WWAY he was growing to love the Port City.

"I've come to like it here in Wilmington more, and more, and more, and more," he said. "So I think the eighth year (of the show) is the best year."

State leaders say Griffith's impact on the Tar Heel State was immense. US Sen. Kay Hagan was in our studio Tuesday morning when she learned of his death.

"He put North Carolina on the map," she said. "Mayberry, NC. So many people have heard about and responded, and although it's a fictional town, Andy Griffith is an iconic figure that I think represents the best in southern hospitality and a southern gentleman."

Later in life Griffith used his celebrity status to help get Bev Perdue elected governor starring alongside her in a 2008 campaign ad, in which he said, "Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina with Bev Perdue as governor."

"North Carolina has lost its favorite son," Perdue said in a statement. "In an increasingly complicated world, we all yearn for the days of Mayberry. We all will miss Andy, and I will dearly miss my friend."

Ron Howard, who played Griffith's son Opie on "The Andy Griffith Show," expressed his condolences on Twitter.

"Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I'm forever grateful RIP Andy," he tweeted.

The Associated Press says Griffith will buried on Roanoke Island. Official details on a funeral have not been released.

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