Though Andy Taylor had the help of Aunt Bee and the rest of Mayberry in raising his son Opie, the main relationship in the classic TV series The Andy Griffith Show was that between father and son. Rather than the sitcom kids before and after him, Opie Taylor was the picture of respectfulness. He and his father had a warm and loving relationship, and Opie often looked to his father for wisdom and advice.
However, according to the actor behind Opie Taylor, Ron Howard, the original vision for the youngest member of the Taylor family was much different from the Opie we know and love today. “Early on, they wrote Opie a little differently,” Howard explained in an interview with the Television Academy Foundation. “More like the typical sitcom kids who always had the wise-ass comebacks and jokes, punchlines, things like that.”
It was Ron Howard’s father, Rance Howard, who presented Andy Griffith with the idea for a respectful Opie. “Later, I heard that my dad actually was talking to Andy about it and sort of the Andy-Opie relationship,” Howard said. “And Andy was talking to my dad about our relationship.”
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Ron Howard Recounts Conversation Between Andy and His Father
A dedicated father, Rance Howard spent quite a bit of time on the set of the Andy Griffith Show. Though Ron Howard was too young to recall the conversation himself, he’s since been told what happened during the fateful conversation between Rance and Andy.
“Somehow, my dad apparently said, ‘Well, what would happen 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 with that, but… I don’t know, I just thought it might be different.'”
Hilariously, Ron Howard believes Rance stepped in with this suggestion to avoid headaches in his own life. As Ron Howard was only 6 years old when he took the role of Opie, he was extremely impressionable. According to Ron, his father was worried that he would pick up bad habits in real life if he played a disrespectful Opie.
“I don’t know if my dad was thinking that, you know, 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 and that relationship. And I think it was influenced a little bit by my own relationship with my dad.”