HONOLULU (AP) — Richard O. Linke, longtime personal manager for Andy Griffith and an associate producer of the TV series "The Andy Griffith Show," has died. He was 98.
Linke died Wednesday at his home in Kona, Hawaii, according to family friend Jack Ellis.
Linke was Griffith's manager for nearly 40 years and the actor's closest adviser for much of his career.
"If it hadn't been for Dick Linke," Griffith once said, "there would be no Andy Griffith."
Linke grew up in Summit, New Jersey, and graduated from Ohio University with a journalism degree. He was a top publicist for Capitol Records in 1953 when he heard Griffith's regional recording "What It Was, Was Football," a comedic monologue about a country boy who sees his first football game. He signed Griffith with Capitol Records, and the recording became a nationwide hit.
In time, Linke became Griffith's personal manager and guided his career through plays, films and television. He eventually established his own management firm, Richard O. Linke and Associates.
When television producer Sheldon Leonard proposed a TV show starring Griffith as a small-town sheriff, Linke became part of the team behind "The Andy Griffith Show," which ran on CBS from 1960 to 1968 and became one of television's most beloved series. Linke was an executive producer for the highly rated reunion show "Return to Mayberry," which aired in 1986.
Linke also managed the careers of other performers, including Jim Nabors, Ken Berry, Forrest Tucker, Frankie Avalon and Bobby Vinton. He was a production consultant for another long-running series starring Griffith, the courtroom drama "Matlock."
Linke is survived by his wife, Bettina, and five children.