"I dealt with a lot of record personalities," Linke told TV Guide in 1960, "but I just had a feeling that this Griffith kid had a lot more on the ball than most. Fortunately, I was right."
Griffith went on to star on Broadway as a country-bumpkin draftee in the 1955 hit comedy "No Time for Sergeants."
He reprised his Tony-nominated role in the 1958 movie version of the play, a year after making his film debut playing a folksy-yet-cunning Arkansas vagabond singer who becomes a power-hungry national TV sensation in "A Face in the Crowd."
"The Andy Griffith Show" was in the Nielson Top 10 all eight seasons, and when its star voluntarily left the show in 1968 it was ranked No. 1.
He starred in only one post-TV series film - "Angel in My Pocket," a 1969 family comedy that bombed - before attempting to reestablish himself as a TV star. On CBS in 1970, he played the title role in "The Headmaster," a short-lived dramatic series about a private high school.
He struck out again in 1971 with "The New Andy Griffith Show" on CBS, in which he returned to his sitcom roots playing a married father of two children who becomes mayor of a small Southern town.
Over the decade, Griffith co-starred with Jeff Bridges in the movie comedy "Hearts of the West" and appeared in occasional TV movies and miniseries ("Centennial" and "Roots: The Next Generation"), as well as making a few other series comeback attempts.
But, as he later put it, "I fell out of fashion. The phone didn't ring much."
In 1983, two years after receiving an Emmy nomination for his supporting role in the TV movie "Murder in Texas," Griffith was stricken with Guillain-Barre syndrome, a rare disorder in which the body's immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.