Andy Griffith, a well-known actor, wanted his oceanfront home in North Carolina renovated into a museum to house all of his professional memories. Nonetheless, months after his death, his third wife secured demolition permission, a decision that many of the actor’s friends decried.
Griffith and his daughter Dixie had always been close, but their relationship started to deteriorate once Griffith married his third wife. During his dying days, he spoke with his daughter on the phone one more time.
Dixie recalls his asking her whether she was at peace with specific areas of her life and sharing the peace and tranquility he’d discovered with her. Dixie describes the conversation as feeling like the “Dad” star was passing on her knowledge.
“Because of the nature and the context of the discussion, I just knew it was the last time I was going to talk to him,” she says. He said he loved me, and I said I loved him.
Griffith became critically ill on July 2, 2012, but elected not to go to the hospital. He gathered his closest friends and family and said his final farewell. The actor passed away early the next morning at his house on Roanoke Island.
Prior to his death, the “Matlock” actor left precise requests for his burial, which his family executed. He was buried four and a half hours after he died, so the paparazzi missed out on filming his dying moments.
The question of his money remained unclear at the time of his death. Unfortunately, because of the hurried burial arrangements, many of his family and close friends did not learn of his death until after he was buried, and therefore many did not attend his funeral. Unfortunately, Dixie was one of them.
While expressing her disappointment at not being able to attend her father’s burial, Dixie recognized Griffith as a pretty quiet person who, despite being a movie star, despised the media’s attention. She’d remember:
“It appears that was his wish.” He refused to have a funeral. He was not interested in a circus. He didn’t want the media to go crazy.
“How do I assemble the females and board a plane?” “But I understand if that was his intention, and I have to honor his wishes.” She went on.
Following his untimely death, Griffith’s third wife, Cindi Knight, stated that she knew Griffith to be a man of strong Christian faith who was prepared for the day the Lord would call him home.
Griffith, she said, was her love, her constant companion, her lover, and her greatest friend. They had been together for over three decades, having met while the actor was performing in summer theater in 1983.
Griffith had often shown his affection for his actress and dancer wife, claiming that he had found happiness with her after his two previous marriages had failed. He would admit:
“She and I are more than just married.” We work together. “She is a huge assistance to me.”
Even though Griffith had a great relationship with his daughter throughout her youth, things changed once he married Knight. As the actor’s marriage and busy schedule on “Matlock” took up more of his time, they saw each other less and less.
Following the death of the actor’s only son, Sam, in 1996, the actor’s fortune was divided evenly between Dixie and Knight, with each receiving a sizable $30 million.
No one questioned the distribution of his fortune between his surviving child and his wife. However, the actor’s friends were concerned about his riverfront home in Carolina, where he had resided for most of his adult life, after his death.
Griffith’s will, written two months before his death, made no mention of the property. But before he died, the actor talked to his friend, Tony Award-winning costume designer William Ivey Long, a lot about it. He told Long that he wanted to keep the mansion as a museum.
Griffith envisioned the museum housing mementos from his musical and television acting careers. Long said that Griffith and Long had not addressed whether Griffith wanted his museum to compete with the Andy Griffith Museum in Griffith’s hometown of Mount Airy.
Even yet, the idea was to turn the house into a museum, so when Knight acquired a permit to demolish it in March 2013, only months after Griffith died, many of the actor’s friends were outraged.
Ira David Wood III, an executive producer on “The Lost Colony,” remembers visiting Griffith’s house, taking a pontoon boat to a sandbar, and playing volleyball for hours.
He was taken aback when he learned of Knight’s plans to destroy the house that carried so many memories for him and many other Griffith friends. He’d say something like:
“I always imagined the site would be maintained and available to the public at some point.”
He did, however, admit that he was certain Knight had her reasons for dismantling the home but hoped she wasn’t acting too quickly and making a mistake.
Della Basnight of Manteo, whose family had known Griffith since she was a child, said that while she was disappointed by the news that the house would be demolished, she knew that Knight had every right to do whatever she wanted with the land.
However, dismantling it did not sit well with her, and she reflected, “I don’t believe he expected her to want to do that when he granted her the power to do anything.”
Basnight recalls Griffith purchasing the beachside property when he first made considerable money and raising his two children there. It came as a surprise since she had assumed it would be a permanent fixture that would last for decades.