HomeAmerican EntertainmentTVClassic TV‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard’s Dad Returned for ‘Return To Mayberry’

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard’s Dad Returned for ‘Return To Mayberry’

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

There were a number of guest stars on the classic TV show The Andy Griffith Show over the years. Ron Howard’s dad shows up. Rance Howard would go on the set with his son Ron, who played Opie, and his other son Clint, who played Little Leon. Years after the show ended its CBS run and became a rerun staple, most of the cast would return for the TV movie Return to Mayberry.

Rance Howard Plays A Preacher In TV Movie Based On ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

In there, Rance played a preacher who married Barney, played by Don Knotts, and Thelma Lou, played by Betty Lynn. According to MeTV, Rance also appeared in episodes titled Barney and the Governor, Cousin Virgil, A Black Day for Mayberry, and The Rumor.

Rance would make a pitch to the show that changed Opie forever. Ron Howard reflected on his dad’s influence around his first major TV role in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation in 2010. “Somehow, my dad apparently said, ‘Well, what if Opie knew that Andy was smarter than him? How about if Opie actually respected his dad? As opposed to the sitcom kids who are always kind of making the dad look bad. I know there are jokes there, but I don’t know, I just thought it might be different.'”

Father of Ron Howard Kind Of Fancied Himself As A Cowboy

“And I don’t know if my dad was really thinking that he dreaded my getting into a pattern of thinking that those comebacks were the right way to deal with a parent or not,” Ron Howard said. “I never asked him. But Andy really took to that, and that’s how they began to write that show relationship.” Griffith was known as a man who had his hand in the writing of the show’s scripts so it’s not a stretch to think this happened.

Did you know that Rance Howard thought about himself as a cowboy? It’s true. Ron Howard would talk about this aspect of his father’s life. “My dad grew up on a farm, but his mother loved horses,” Ron said. “They always did a bit of ranching also. So he kind of fancied himself a cowboy. Still, to this day, he’s a great writer and very comfortable around livestock.”

Rance Howard died in 2017 but lived long enough to see Ron go from TV star to acclaimed movie director. His sons continued to be part of the entertainment industry. They can look back to their dad for being there early on in their careers and lives. A year ago, Ron and Clint wrote a memoir about growing up together in Hollywood.