‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Writer Danny Thomas Played Richie’s Grandpa on ‘Happy Days’

by Joe Rutland
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Danny Thomas played an integral part in The Andy Griffith Show coming to TV but he’d also appear on Happy Days years later. It’s funny when looking back on classic TV shows that there could be a connection between shows and stars. Thomas, who played entertainer Danny Williams in his show that ran on ABC and CBS, helped bring Griffith’s show alive by airing the pilot. Thomas’ show also was known as Make Room for Daddy in its first three seasons. Thomas, though, also was a co-creator of Griffith’s show. And that he ends up playing opposite Ron Howard on Happy Days is quite a story indeed.

He also played an integral role as a producer of eight episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. Among those episodes were The Great Filling Station Robbery and The Darlings Are Coming. Thomas also appeared in other classic TV shows in his career. They included The Dick Van Dyke Show, Get Smart, The Mod Squad, Here’s Lucy, and daughter Marlo’s sitcom That Girl.

Danny Thomas Had Connection With Ron Howard From ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Yet Thomas would play the father of Howard Cunningham, played by Tom Bosley, on Happy Days. That makes him Richie’s grandpa. The episode in which Thomas appears is titled Grandpa’s Visit. He would demand that “sonny” give him a kiss upon arriving on the show’s set, per MeTV. The fact that Thomas shows up on the ABC sitcom is pretty cool. After all, Thomas and Howard had known each other for many years. Having him play the grandfather kind of puts a bow on their connection.

If Thomas’ name sounds familiar beyond the world of American entertainment, then you’d be right. He was the founder of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. After his death, Marlo Thomas has remained a vital person who helps the hospital in many ways. Griffith would play Sheriff Andy Taylor for eight seasons. In Thomas’ sitcom, sometimes there would be guest stars that were part of the showbiz world at that time. They included Tony Bennett and Annette Funicello.

One time, Howard managed to look back on his time working with Griffith. He said the sitcom’s star “shaped” his life. Upon Griffith’s death in 2012, the actor-director shared a sweet thought about him. “Andy Griffith His pursuit of excellence and the joy he took in creating served generations & shaped my life I’m forever grateful RIP Andy,” Howard said in a post on Twitter. Thinking back to his time with Griffith, it was a time when young Ronny Howard (as he was billed on the show as a child) would be focused on his work.

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