‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Episode That Ron Howard Said Moved Him Even As a Child

A scene from 'The Andy Griffith Show'
A scene from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | CBS via Getty Images

As a child actor on the classic television comedy The Andy Griffith Show, Ron Howard appeared in all eight of the series’ seasons. In the role of Opie Taylor, Howard demonstrated throughout those years his increasing maturity as a performer.

The renowned filmmaker stated that, out of the show’s 239 episodes, there was one that was the first to affect him emotionally. Here’s what he had to say.

Ron Howard started on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ at age 6

In 1959, Howard was 5 years old when he appeared on General Electric Theater. It was on this show that he caught future U.S. president Ronald Reagan’s attention.

“I guess I didn’t have much of a credit, but Ronald Reagan had seen the episode and at the end, he just ad-libbed this thing and said, ‘Special thanks to little Ronnie Howard who did a wonderful job as Barnaby’ or something like that,” he told the Archive of American Television in 2006.

“And that led [The Andy Griffith Show producer] Sheldon Leonard to call my agent and say, ‘I’m doing a series with Andy Griffith and we need a son,” Howard said.

His experience then led in the years after the Griffith show to appearances on television westerns, dramas, a guest appearance on the hit M*A*S*H, and another major role, that of Richie Cunningham on ABC’s Happy Days in 1974 at age 20.

Howard had his lines read to him

Father and son Rance (left) and Ron Howard in 2005
Father and son Rance (left) and Ron Howard in 2005 | Kevin Winter/Getty Images

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The director’s father, Rance Howard, who was an accomplished actor, 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,” he told the Archive of American Television.

Ron, because he was so young, couldn’t yet make sense of written words and commit them to memory that way.

It was his father who in the beginning, “taught me my lines. I couldn’t read,” he said.

The episode that touched a young Ron Howard

Ron Howard, left, on the set of the episode "Mr. McBeevee" in 1962
Ron Howard, left, on the set of the episode “Mr. McBeevee” in 1962 | CBS via Getty Images

In his interview, Howard described the first time an episode of the show went from being just another day on the set to his deeply experiencing it emotionally.

“[“Mr. McBeeVee”] was a beautiful episode, I loved that episode,” he said. “I found it really heartbreaking. It was one of the few times that the actual story line of an episode we were working on moved me.

“I remember the actor playing Mr. McBeevee, I thought he was really great. I think that’s probably one of the reasons why I found the episode so moving. Here was this guy, no one believed he existed, and it was so frustrating. I don’t know, I just remember being touched by that one.”

Howard isn’t alone; “Mr. McBeevee,” the first episode of the show’s third season, is one of The Andy Griffith Show‘s most loved for its poignancy and messages of love and trust between a dad and his young son.

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