Andy Griffith Revealed Ron Howard Never Considered Him a Father Figure Despite On-Screen Relationship

by Clayton Edwards
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

 Today, Ron Howard is one of the top directors in Hollywood. His directorial credits include Apollo 13, Backdraft, The Da Vinci Code, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and many more. However, his journey to stardom started on the small screen. He and the cast and crew of Happy Days made huge waves in the television world. The show was so popular that its theme song topped the charts and it spawned several spinoff shows, including Mork and Mindy which launched Robin Williams’ career. Additionally, it gave us the phrase, “Jumping the shark.”

Ron Howard’s truly started in Mayberry. He starred as Opie Taylor alongside Andy Griffith’s Sheriff Andy Taylor. On-screen, the two were a loving father and son duo. Their chemistry was such that audiences could almost believe that Griffith had fathered the boy he raised on the show. So, it would be fair to assume that Ron looked up to Andy as a father figure. Surprisingly, though, that wasn’t the case.

According to Amomama, Andy Griffith once revealed the nature of their behind-the-scenes relationship. Griffith said, “Ronny never considered me a father figure – he considered me his friend.”

Ron Howard and Andy Griffith remained friends until Griffith’s death in 2012. The pair worked together on the set of The Andy Griffith Show for eight years. In those years, Howard spent much of his time around adults in the entertainment industry. As a result, he matured much faster than most kids. At the same time, he soaked up all the knowledge he could from those around him. Griffith taught him about hard work, collaboration, and taking ownership of your art. Additionally, Howard learned that hard work and having a good time didn’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Ron Howard on Working with Andy Griffith

Ron Howard sat down with The Archive of American Television before Andy Griffith’s death. During the interview, he called Griffith a “natural entertainer,” and said that he was the solid foundation upon which The Andy Griffith Show was built. Howard also said that Griffith was a natural leader even though he wasn’t formally a producer or writer on the series. Additionally, he talked about one of the major things that Griffith taught him about working in film and television.

According to Ron Howard, Andy “set the tone” for the set of their show. That tone was “Playful when it was appropriate to be having fun. But, when the time came to make the show, to do the shot, to get the joke, that was pretty serious. I’ve always felt that that was another thing that I really took away from the show was a sense that it could be a lot of fun but we have a responsibility to what we’re doing here.”