‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard’s ‘Greatest Enduring Lesson’ From 8 Seasons Came From On-Screen Dad

The Andy Griffith Show has become more popular than ever in recent months, even though the series has been off the air for decades. People looking for an escape from the harsh realities of the coronavirus pandemic have found solace in The Andy Griffith Show, a series that espouses the virtues of kindness and understanding, as well as the importance of family.

Several major stars rose to fame in the series, including the now-acclaimed director Ron Howard. As Opie Taylor, Howard starred on the show for all eight seasons of the fan-favorite show. And when Griffith passed away in 2012, he had a lot to say about the way that the folksy performer influenced his life. 

How did Ron Howard get started in show business?

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Howard was born in 1954 to show business parents. His father, Rance Howard, was a director and actor, while his mother, Jean Howard, was an actress.

Ron Howard began acting when he was just a toddler, attending school on the lot of Desilu Studios in Hollywood. By the time he was five years old, Howard had already appeared in several high-profile television shows, including The DuPont Show with June Allyson and The Twilight Zone.

In 1960, when Howard was only six years old, he landed the role of Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, Opie Taylor, in the new series The Andy Griffith Show. As Opie, Howard was involved in many of the show’s more serious plotlines, working alongside experienced performers such as Don Knotts and Andy Griffith.

Howard became beloved by viewers everywhere, many of whom had a difficult time distinguishing the actor from the character that he portrayed on television. 

Ron Howard went on to become a famous director

Ron Howard appeared on all eight seasons of The Andy Griffith Show, growing up in front of viewers’ eyes.

After The Andy Griffith Show ended, Howard went on to become one of the lead stars in the cult-classic series Happy Days. He also appeared in a number of films during the sixties and seventies — however, Howard left Happy Days in 1980 in order to focus on directing, rather than acting.

In the decades since he made the switch to directing, Howard has worked on dozens of popular movies, including Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, Frost/Nixon, The Da Vinci Code, and Solo: A Star Wars Story. Howard is widely considered to be one of the most influential creators in Hollywood, and has received numerous awards and accolades. 

What did Ron Howard say about lessons learned from Andy Griffith?

American actor Ronnie Howard appears as Opie Taylor in an episode of 'The Andy Griffith Show.'
Ron Howard as Opie Taylor in ‘The Andy Griffith Show.’ | CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images

Even though it has been decades since Howard said his goodbyes on the set of The Andy Griffith Show, the series, and the lessons that he learned from showrunner Andy Griffith, have remained with him. In 2012, after Griffith passed away, Howard wrote a touching tribute in the Los Angeles Times.

“Andy Griffith entertained us for decades on stage, via our radios, sound systems, TVs and up there on the silver screen. Comedy, drama or music, he brought his love of performing to each creative undertaking. He was known for ending shows by looking at the audience and saying “I appreciate it, and good night,” Howard wrote.

He went on to describe: “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. Respect. At every turn he demonstrated his honest respect for people and he never seemed to expect theirs in return, but wanted to earn it. He taught me a great deal through the examples he set and the approach to our work on the set. I learned about comedic timing, paying off characters in the third act of a story line, and the equal values of both focused rehearsal and, at particular moments, of total chaotic spontaneity.”