‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Here’s How Don Knotts and Ron Howard Are Actually Related in Real Life

by Matthew Wilson

Ron Howard and Don Knotts may have starred on “The Andy Griffith Show.” But they actually share a real-life connection as well. They’re actually distantly related.

Both Howard and Knotts were sixth cousins, according to IMDB. While they may not have gone to any family reunions together, both Knotts and Howard shared a common ancestor. Both Howard and Knotts trace their lineage to Lucinda Knotts. In a strange bit of coincidence, the two distant cousins starred in one of America’s most beloved classics together.

Of course, neither Howard nor Knotts knew of each other before appearing on the show. At the time, Howard was just a young boy when he was cast as Opie on the show. Watching Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife, Howard asked his father if the actor was crazy the first time he saw him.

“No, no, no,” his father told him. “He’s a very funny actor.”

Ron Howard and Don Knotts

Ron Howard soon began to appreciate Knotts and his comedy act himself. Howard starred on eight seasons of the show where he gained knowledge of Knotts’ comedy routine and how he slipped into the role of Fife.

“Well, I have such great memories of the show in general. And Don was, you know, an amazing guy in that — and I’ve worked with a lot of very, very funny people over the years,” Howard said, according to Cheat Sheet. “And they all have different styles. But one remarkable thing about Don is that I wasn’t aware of any neurosis or anything, you know.” 

In real life, Howard said Fife couldn’t be more different than Fife.

“I mean he wasn’t — he wasn’t like his character at all,” Howard continued. “Even as a kid, you know, I could see that he was a really great comic actor who knew how to create this character and knew how to be very funny but, you know, he wasn’t — he wasn’t Barney Fife. He was a very calm, very kind, very relaxed, very creative guy.”

After “Andy Griffith,” both Howard and Knotts would have successful careers out in Hollywood. Knotts starred in a range of popular comedy movies. Meanwhile, Howard went forward to have a highly successful career as a director after starring in the sitcom “Happy Days.”