The Mysterious Life and Death of Samuel James Griffith- Son of Andy Griffith

In our ongoing quest in the story of Andy Griffith, today we look at the troubled life of his son, Samuel James Griffith who died in 1996 of alcoholism at the age of 38 (see the story below). The photo above is of Andy and his first wife Barbara- who was the adopted mother of both Sam and their daughter Dixie Griffith. We searched and searched and could find no picture of Andy and his son or just Sam. Strange.
Our upcoming book, The Life and Times of Andy Griffith, will be the first comprehensive biography of his life. In the book, we will include many interviews with writers, actors, producers and family to try to paint the first accurate biography of this television and American icon.
This story, from the National Enquirer today, tells about his troubled son, Samuel James Griffith, their rocky relationship and Sam’s death from alcoholism. We also include a couple stories about Sam from the Los Angeles Times.
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The horrible irony of the TV legend’s life was despite his role as one of the most revered dads in television history, he couldn’t save his beloved son, who was hell-bent on self-destruction! “Andy and his son, Sam, had a falling out over Sam’s drug use,” a Hollywood insider tells The National ENQUIRER. “Andy just couldn’t understand Sam as time went along, and his son got in and out of trouble — and Andy finally just threw up his hands.”
“Sam always felt like a black sheep. He felt like Andy didn’t love him because he wasn’t his TV son “Opie”, the lovable character played by Ron Howard on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ in the 1960s,” added the insider. They finally, and sadly, reached an impasse in the 1990s — and then Sam died tragically of an overdose before Andy could patch things up. Sam — adopted by Andy and his first wife,Barbara, in 1957 and named Andy Samuel Griffith Jr. — admitted that he was “a wild kid. I caused my dad a lot of heartaches. My dad was a good father, but for a while I was out of control.”  Sam went off the rails as a teenager and was busted for drugs, battery, soliciting prostitutes and theft — and was jailed in 1992 for beating his pregnant wife, Renee. He says his drug habit became so bad, “I’d wake up in the morning wanting coke.”
Andy — who also adopted a daughter, Dixie — had tried to help Sam, twice shelling out at least $15,000 to send him to rehab. But after Sam’s attack on Renee, Andy cut him off, telling him, “You’re an embarrassment. You’re on your own now.” After serving 60 days in jail for abusing his wife, Sam continued to tumble into trouble. He was busted for driving under the influence, drug possession, shoplifting, assault with a deadly weapon and negligently firing a gun. “Toward the end, he was full of remorse” over his life and crimes, says his pal Suzi Manners.
“Sam admitted that he had pushed his dad way past the point of no return.”His sister, Dixie, however, had a far more functional relationship with their father. “So many people wanted to be a part of him, but he was just my dad,” she says, adding that she has happy memories from her childhood with her parents and brother, especially summers in North Carolina, where Andy had a home on Roanoke Sound. “He’d make us wear one of his old-timey caps in the rumble seat of his antique car,” she says. Dixie insists that their father took excellent care of the family. “I didn’t grow up in the spotlight,” she says. “My dad was fiercely protective of us.” Yet Suzi believes, “In Sam’s eyes it was like Andy was ashamed of his son. He cushioned the pain with substance abuse.”
“Sam admitted that he had pushed his dad way past the point of no return.”His sister, Dixie, however, had a far more functional relationship with their father. “So many people wanted to be a part of him, but he was just my dad,” she says, adding that she has happy memories from her childhood with her parents and brother, especially summers in North Carolina, where Andy had a home on Roanoke Sound. “He’d make us wear one of his old-timey caps in the rumble seat of his antique car,” she says. Dixie insists that their father took excellent care of the family. “I didn’t grow up in the spotlight,” she says. “My dad was fiercely protective of us.” Yet Suzi believes, “In Sam’s eyes it was like Andy was ashamed of his son. He cushioned the pain with substance abuse.”
Shortly before he died on Jan. 17, 1996, Sam intended to reach out to Andy one last time. He wrote him a letter saying, “Please, Dad, just give it one more chance. I’m your son. I want to be your friend.” But the letter went unsent, and Sam was found slumped over a desk at his Hollywood home. He was dead at 38. Andy did not attend the funeral.“Any last chance of reconciliation ended when Sam suddenly died,” says a friend. The “Matlock” star passed years later, on July 3, 2012, at the age of 86 — with the sorrow of their broken relationship still weighing down his heart.

ANDY GRIFFITH’S SON DIES AFTER BATTLING ALCOHOLISM.

Byline: Jaxon Van Derbeken Daily News Staff Writer
Sam Griffith, the son of actor Andy Griffith, was found dead Wednesday in his North Hollywood home. He was 38.

His attorney said Griffith died after a long battle with alcoholism.

“He had suffered some severe medical problems in the past, (including) cirrhosis of the liver,” said his lawyer, James Blatt. “Quite honestly, I think his body just gave out on him, after all the years of abuse. The years caught up with him.”

Griffith, 38, a real estate developer, was found dead by his roommate at their Ellington Drive home about 4:20 a.m.

Blatt said Griffith had been out of work but was looking to find something new at the time of his death.

“He had been looking to go back to find something he enjoyed – he was getting along much better with his friends, because he was not drinking,” Blatt said.

Blatt said Andy Griffith “is taking it hard and is quite upset” at the news.

The death appeared to be of natural causes, but the official cause is pending an autopsy, said coroner’s spokesman Scott Carrier.

Griffith was sentenced to three years’ probation in 1992 after pleading no contest to reduced, misdemeanor assault charges in the January beating of his pregnant wife.

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge James M. Coleman gave Griffith credit for 60 days jail time already served.

Griffith had been charged with felonies including spousal abuse, assault with a deadly weapon and negligently firing a weapon.

Griffith had left a gathering early on Tuesday night because he was feeling ill, Blatt said.

“When his friend – who owns the house – returned, he found him sitting on a chair, slumped over on a desk,” Blatt said. “He first thought he was just sleeping and tried to wake him.”

The unidentified roommate then attempted to resuscitate Griffith and called 911 early Wednesday morning.

Blatt, who represented Sam Griffith in the case involving his wife, said that he had spoken to the family and Griffith’s roommate in the aftermath of the death.

“I don’t think it’s any secret that Sam suffered from alcoholism,” Blatt said. “But he seemed to be getting alcoholism under control.”

Andy Griffith’s Son Held in Wife-Beating

January 23, 1992
Sam Griffith,  the son of actor Andy Griffith was arrested in North Hollywood on Wednesday on charges of beating his wife and causing her to have a miscarriage, Los Angeles police said.

Sam Griffith, 34, of North Hollywood turned himself in at the local police station accompanied by his attorney, James E. Blatt of Encino, Detective Mike Coffey said.

According to a complaint filed by Sam Griffith’s wife, Renee Denise Griffith, 28, the beating occurred Jan. 6 after the couple got into an argument. Griffith, a real estate developer, allegedly hit his wife, who was two months pregnant, in the face several times with his fist, then kicked her several times in the stomach.

She suffered a broken finger and a miscarriage, Deputy District Atty. Jeffrey S. Gootman said.

She has also alleged that during other fights, her husband threatened her with a gun and fired it, Gootman said.

On Wednesday, Gootman filed four felony counts against Sam Griffith, including spousal abuse causing great bodily injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and negligently discharging a firearm.

Griffith was being held at the North Hollywood Jail in lieu of $100,000 bail. He was scheduled for arraignment today in Van Nuys Municipal Court.

 Actor’s Son Gets Probation in Assault : Courts: Sam Griffith of North Hollywood pleads no contest to abusing wife. Two felony charges are dismissed.

September 25, 1992|JAMES QUINN | TIMES STAFF WRITER
The 34-year-old son of actor Andy Griffith was placed on probation Thursday after he admitted in court that he beat his pregnant wife.

Sam Griffith, a North Hollywood real estate investor, pleaded no contest–the equivalent of a guilty plea in criminal proceedings–to two misdemeanor counts of assault.

In addition to placing Griffith on three years unsupervised probation, Van Nuys Superior Court Judge James M. Coleman sentenced him to the 90 days he had already served in jail awaiting trial in the case.

Prosecutors, saying they had doubts about whether a jury would believe Griffith’s estranged wife, Renee, dismissed felony charges of assault with a deadly weapon and negligently discharging a firearm in exchange for the no-contest plea