Ron Howard Is ‘Forever Grateful’ to ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Andy

More than 50 years after The Andy Griffith Show ended, its impact is still felt worldwide. The wholesome, kindhearted portrayal of the life of a small-town sheriff named Andy Taylor and his son Opie resonated with audiences of its time, and it still has a special place in people’s hearts years later. Now one of the most successful filmmakers in Hollywood, Ron Howard, who played Opie starting at just 6 years old, reminisced about the impact the show’s late star had on him. 

Opie (Ron Howard) and Andy (Andy Griffith)
Opie (Ron Howard) and Andy (Andy Griffith) | CBS via Getty Images

What was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’? 

The Andy Griffith Show was one of television’s first attempts to make a comedy that was less about outrageous laughs and more about the humor of everyday life. While the show was filled to the brim with outlandish characters like Gomer Pyle and Barney Fife, at its heart it was a touching look at Taylor and his impact on the people of the fictional Mayberry. 

The series showed that comedy did not have to rely on pratfalls and one-liners. The comedy could come from everyday life. While Griffith was an up-and-coming star at the time of its premiere, it cemented his legacy as royalty and is still his defining role years after the actor’s death. The show has had a remarkably long shelf life, and it’s one of the few shows of its era to appear on Netflix’s streaming service. 

The Andy Griffith Show thrived for many different reasons. For one, it had a leading man who knew how to play both the straight character and the comedic lead. It also showed a single father raising his son in a way that was both funny and touching.

Most of all, it worked because the father and son who led the series had such great chemistry. Since Griffith died in 2012, Howard has kept his memory alive by paying tribute to his former co-star in more ways than one. 

RELATED: ‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Said Andy Made His Work a ‘Learning Experience’

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was just the start of Ron Howard’s success

Howard was only a toddler when he started acting, and at just 6 years old he landed the role of Opie. After eight years on the show, he had more success with Happy Days, and he started getting interested in directing around that same time. 

Now, he’s arguably more famous behind the scenes than he ever was on Andy Griffith. Howard has proven to be one of Hollywood’s best directors, with films including Apollo 13, Willow, and The Da Vinci Code under his belt. However, whether he is making a movie in the Star Wars universe, returning to television on Arrested Development, or portraying a grittier look at rural life in Hillbilly Elegy, Griffith’s legacy lives through Howard’s work. 

Ron Howard pays tribute to Andy Griffith

Griffith died in 2012. At the time, Howard took to Twitter to pay tribute to the man who helped make his career as an actor and director. 

“Andy Griffith,” he wrote. “His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy.”

Not long after, he elaborated on the late star’s impact in The Hollywood Reporter.

“He treated me really well, but he made it a learning experience, not in a stern, taskmaster kind of a way, but I was really allowed a real insight into creativity and how things work and why some scenes were funny and others weren’t,” he said. “That insight has served me really well over the years. Andy was really kind to me, always playful and fun, but, by the same token, he wanted to get the work done.”

Griffith’s place in television history cannot be understated. However, his impact goes far beyond the small town of Mayberry. Howard is still one of Hollywood’s greatest success stories. And had he not learned from such a legend early on, all of this might have been different.