Ron Howard Said His 1st Real Acting Lesson Came From a Can Hanging From a Broomstick

Sheldon Golomb as Arnold, left, and Ron Howard as Opie in a scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Sheldon Collins as Arnold, left, and Ron Howard as Opie in a scene
from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

For former The Andy Griffith Show star Ron Howard, his first acting experience was as a young child.

His talent and charm were apparent even at his young age. The filmmaker and director explained in an interview that one of his first acting lessons oddly involved a can and a broomstick. And it worked.

Ron Howard couldn’t read his own script when he started

Ron Howard was just 6 years old when he joined the Andy Griffith Show cast. He couldn’t read his lines and memorize them like his adult costars.

It was his father Rance Howard who, in the beginning, “taught me my lines. I couldn’t read,” he told the Archive of American Television in 2006.

His father was also an actor and would “teach me the dialogue. The great thing he did was he was teaching me good, solid fundamentals about acting. My dad was teaching me to act.”

Howard explained his 1st acting lesson

Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier of 'The Andy Griffith Show'
Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

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Ron Howard recalled an experience in which his father took him to audition for an MGM casting director. The casting director liked the way the child actor performed a scene but wanted him to do a screen test. Howard remembered how his dad prepped him to act in front of a camera.

“I do remember learning this scene,” he said. “And they said they wanted to do a test. I remember my dad and a friend of his, another actor, I remember practicing for this test.

“My dad had his friend hang a can from a broomstick, so it was like a boom mic, and move it around. And the idea was, my dad was trying to teach me to concentrate on the other actor.”

Howard said the lesson stayed with him throughout his career.

“That’s one of the first things that I ever remember learning, was to concentrate and really listen to the other actor,” he said. “Really, really listen to what they’re saying and your next line will make sense.”

The ‘Opie’ actor’s remembrance of Andy Griffith

After the 2012 death of the man he called “Pa” for so many years, Ron Howard reminisced in an Op-Ed for The Los Angeles Times about what he learned by Andy Griffith’s side.

“He was known for ending shows by looking at the audience and saying ‘I appreciate it, and good night.’ Perhaps the greatest enduring lesson I learned from eight seasons playing Andy’s son Opie on the show was that he truly understood the meaning of those words, and he meant them, and there was value in that,” Howard wrote.

In a heartfelt tweet at that time, the former child actor wrote, “Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy.”