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.

Andy Griffith mourners place flowers and other heartfelt tributes at the base of the TV Land statue dedicated to 'The Andy Griffith Show' at the Andy Griffith Museum. (Grant Halverson/Getty Images for TV Land)

Linke died Wednesday at his home in Hawaii, according to the university communications department at Ohio University, Linke's alma mater and where he had taught as a visiting professor.

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, who grew up in Summit, New Jersey, 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.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


Sign up for the Newsletter

Get the best of delivered to your inbox every day.