in , ,

The Troubled Life & Death of Andy Griffith’s Son

The late Sam Griffith was the adopted son of America’s favorite dad and iconic Hollywood actor, Andy Griffith. Despite Andy’s insistence to keep his two children (both adopted) out of the limelight, Sam was constantly making headlines. But for all the wrong reasons. From his idyllic childhood to troubled teens and addiction-riddled adult years, Sam Griffith always felt he was a disappointment to his seemingly perfect father. Even his sister Dixie had difficulty connecting with him, right up until his death from alcoholism-related illness at the young age of 38. But despite his apparent flaws, Sam Griffith was an undeniably charismatic and complicated figure. Watch on to find out what his childhood as a TV star’s son was like and what led him to his ultimately fatal troubles with addiction.

Andy Griffith Jr., Known As Sam Griffith, Was Adopted

Andy Griffith married his first wife, Barbara Edwards, also an actor, in 1949, and from there, they embarked on a marriage that would last 23 years. Early on, the couple found out they couldn’t have children, so they decided to adopt. They eventually found two infants born just a year apart: a boy and a girl. They named their beautiful new children Andrew Samual Griffith, Jr. (later known as Sam Griffith) and Dixie Nann Griffith. Andrew was, of course, proudly named after Andy himself. Andy and Barbara were hands-on parents and “a lot of fun,” Dixie later said. They worked hard to protect their children and keep them out of the spotlight, especially given that they were adopted. When the couple divorced when Dixie was just 12 years old, both siblings lived with their mother.

Sam Griffith and His Sister, Dixie, Had an Idyllic Childhood

Being the son of one of America’s most beloved actors has its perks. Andy Griffith was what many would describe as the perfect dad, both on and off-screen. While daughter Dixie Griffith would describe her dad as “a very strict disciplinarian,” in the same breath, she would say he was a “very moral man and had high standards of what was right and wrong.” While the Griffith family lived in California when Andy was filming, they packed up and headed back to their estate on Roanoke Sound in North Carolina as soon as the summer rolled around. There, the children went boating, picnicked, played sports, and went fishing. Due to their star-studded family ties, the siblings once even landed parts in a historical outdoor drama, The Lost Colony, put on by the community. They sang in the choir and handed out flyers.

Are you on the hunt for more videos that delve into the wild lives of your favorite Hollywood families? Like this video and share it with your friends and family so that YouTube knows what you want to see more of. And don’t forget to subscribe to our channel and ring that little bell to get new video upload notifications.

But He Went Off the Rails Despite the Support

Sam was the first to admit that he was a wild child, especially in his adolescent years. He was the quintessential rebellious teenager–a far cry from the kinds of sons you saw in popular culture in the 1950s and 1960s. “I caused my dad a lot of heartache,” he once told the media. “My dad was a good father, but for a while, I was out of control.” Despite being a model father on the TV and at home, Andy, it was said, simply didn’t know how to control his wayward son. He quickly gave up on him. Later, Sam admitted that his father didn’t love him because he wasn’t the same as Opie, the fictional perfect son on The Andy Griffith Show, played by Ron Howard.

His Sister, Dixie, Had a Very Different View of their Father

While Sam’s relationship with his father was troubled, to say the least, the opposite was true of the love between Andy Griffith and his adopted daughter, Dixie. In later years, Dixie would recall fond memories of family holidays. She remembers him, for example, making her wear one of his old-timey caps while sitting in the rumble seat of his antique car. Despite the less-than-perfect picture painted by her brother Sam, Dixie continually insisted that their father was an excellent caregiver. He typically worked early mornings to be home by the afternoon to spend time with his family. And while so many people wanted to be near Andy Griffith, to her, he was just Dad. Dixie was never in awe of him as an actor. “I didn’t grow up in the spotlight,” she often repeated in interviews. “My dad was fiercely protective of us.”

Andy Griffith’s Son Was Addicted to Alcohol

While Sam idolized his father, he chafed at the strict discipline Andy Griffith was known for. Andy was a dominant character, and most of the time, Sam felt pressured to live up to an ideal he felt was unachievable. Then, in 1972, Andy and his wife Barbara divorced, with Barbara getting custody of Dixie. Sam, who was 14 at the time, was in the custody of his father. Being forced to live under Andy’s rules, Sam began to drink more and more alcohol. Eventually, Sam couldn’t live without a drink, and his addiction to the strong stuff–both alcohol and drugs–would plague him throughout most of his adult life.

He Was Jailed in 1992 for Domestic Abuse

Fast forward to 1992, and years of a troublesome lifestyle finally caught up with now 34-year-old Sam Griffith. He was sentenced to three years of unsupervised probation after violently assaulting his wife, Renee, mere weeks after getting married. She suffered a broken finger and, to make matters worse, she was pregnant at the time, and the assault caused a miscarriage. As well as being placed on unsupervised probation for three years, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge James M. Coleman also handed him a 90-day jail sentence which Sam had already served while waiting for the case to go to trial. At the time, Sam worked as a North Hollywood real estate developer, and it’s this high-flying profession might have fueled his drug habit–which had become so uncontrollable that he’d “wake up in the morning wanting coke,” he told the media.

He Also Had Firearm Charges

According to Renee, this was not the first violent fight between her and Sam Griffith. When Renee reported the assault, she also told police that Sam Griffith threatened her with a gun and even fired it. But prosecutors had doubts whether a jury would believe Renee’s testimony. So the accompanying charges of assault with a deadly weapon and negligently discharging a firearm were dismissed in exchange for a plea of no-contest from Sam. His attorney at the time said that “Mr. Griffith is looking forward to the opportunity to tell his side of the story to the judge,” though given the final sentence, it seems the judge erred on the side of the law in this case.

Sam Griffith Had a Falling Out With His Father

Following Sam’s sentencing, his father Andy stopped all contact with his son. It was so serious that he even told the press that he had “emotionally disinherited” him. “You’re an embarrassment,” Andy reportedly said to Sam. “You’re on your own now.” Isn’t it ironic that Andy Griffith could not connect with his adoptive son despite being one of the most legendary fictional dads in history? In fact, his son’s brush with the law was the final straw for Andy, on the back of Sam’s years of drug abuse. Instead of a son, he could only see a stranger hell-bent on self-destruction. After all, he’d already shelled out a whopping $15,000 to send him to rehab. But after Sam’s death, a close friend called Suzi Manners told reporters that Sam felt his father was ashamed of him, and he cushioned that pain with substance abuse. Sam even once admitted that he had pushed Andy too far. Their relationship was beyond the point of no return.

Before He Died, Sam Wrote a Letter to Andy Griffith

Shortly before Sam Griffith tragically passed away, sources say that he wrote a heartfelt letter to his father, Andy Griffith, explaining how much he’d changed and how he wanted to make amends for all the years of trauma and separation. In the letter, it’s claimed he wrote: “Please, Dad, just give me one more chance. I’m your son. I want to be your friend.” Sadly, however, the letter never reached his father’s hands. Even in his final moments, he wasn’t able to get the fatherly love and friendship he had wished for all his life.

Sam Griffith Died Early and Tragically

On the night of his death in January 1996, Sam Griffith left a party early because he wasn’t feeling well. Later that evening, a friend visited to find him slumped over a desk in his North Hollywood home. They tried to resuscitate him and called 911, but it was to no avail. Sam was just 38 years old. His years of alcohol abuse had, it seems, caught up to him. Tragically, right before his death, Sam’s close friends said he had recently gone clean, had a more positive outlook on life, and was looking to move into a new career field doing “something he enjoyed.”

Andy Griffith Didn’t Attend His Own Son’s Funeral

Andy Griffith decided not to attend his son’s funeral, with a friend stating that any chance of reconciliation between the two estranged family members went to the grave with Sam. It wasn’t until years later, in 2012, when Andy died at the ripe old age of 86, that he said the sorrow of the unmended relationship still weighed on his heart and mind. In fact, at the time, insiders said that Sam’s death devastated his father. “It was very, very painful,” he reportedly confessed to a friend upon hearing the news of Sam’s passing. He admitted to questioning how good of a father he was.

Do you think Andy Griffith and his son, Sam Griffith, should have made more effort to repair their relationship? Or do you believe Andy Griffith did the right thing by cutting his son out of his life? Share your thoughts, feelings, and opinions on this controversial topic in the comment section down below. And don’t forget to like and share this video and subscribe to the Facts Verse channel for more celebrity insights.

The Scene That Took Mash off the Air

Desi Arnaz Refused to Film This I Love Lucy Scene