‘The Andy Griffith Show’s Ron Howard Revealed What the Show Was Actually About
The Andy Griffith Show ran for eight seasons on CBS starting in 1960.
During that time, actor Ron Howard grew from a kindergarten-aged youngster to a young man by the series’ end.
The end of the classic comedy was very much the end of an era for the future filmmaker who opened up about what he realized the show was about all along.
Ron Howard got noticed by a future U.S. president
Young Ron Howard had been a busy child actor even before The Andy Griffith Show. He appeared in several television programs in the late 1950s and in 1960, including Playhouse 90, The Twilight Zone, and Dennis the Menace, among others.
In 1959, 5-year-old Howard appeared on the television program General Electric Theater. Hosted by future U.S. president Ronald Reagan, his appearance on that program directly led him to the role of Opie Taylor the following year, as Howard told the Archive of American Television.
“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 recalled.
“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.
Howard didn’t audition for the role of Opie Taylor
Howard’s recollection of his years on and before Andy Griffith are still sharp as he shared with the Archive of American Television.
“I don’t remember anything like an audition for The Andy Griffith Show,” the former Happy Days star said.
“I just remember doing the first pilot episode. That was done in front of an audience and that was the first time that I ever remember being in front of an audience.”
What ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ was really about
In his interview, Howard chatted about the various show’s actors and his memory of life on the set. At one point, he shared a true gem of revelation regarding what the show was always about, from the beginning.
“I’ve come to realize that, in a greater sense, the show is about a community as family,” he said. “Because, ironically, none of the characters in the show have a traditional family.
“Andy’s wife passed away, which is dealt with in the Danny Thomas pilot. A new family is constructed when Andy’s Aunt Bee comes to the role of mother of the household. But it’s not a traditional family.”
Howard went on to name other characters who also were not part of a traditional family.
“Don [Knotts’ character] is a bachelor. The other characters are bachelors. Otis the drunk has a wife but you never see her. Ironically, it’s thought of as one of the ultimate family shows. But, ironically, what it’s really saying is a community can be a family. The town of Mayberry is a big family.
“There’s never ever been a show like it.”