HomeEntertainment‘Happy Days’: Ron Howard Once Referenced His ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Imaginary Friend

‘Happy Days’: Ron Howard Once Referenced His ‘Andy Griffith Show’ Imaginary Friend

by Josh Lanier
(CBS Photo Archive / ContributorVIa Getty Images)

Ron Howard remembers one of his favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show because of how “heartbreaking” it was. And he isn’t alone. A lot of fans love the episode for its quick turn and showcase of fatherly love.

The episode is the “Mr. McBeevee,” and it was the first show of the third season of The Andy Griffith Show. In it, Opie explains to his dad that he’s met the most interesting man. His name is Mr. McBeevee, and Opie said he can walk on top of the trees, has extra hands on his belt, wears a bright, shiny hat, and jingles with every step. Andy lets it go, figuring the 6-year-old son is just making up stories as kids do. But when Opie came home later with a quarter he said he got from this imaginary friend, Andy decided to put a stop to it.

Andy says if Opie doesn’t stop telling lies, he’ll whip him, but Opie swears by his stories. Finally, Opie talks Andy into going to meet Mr. McBeeVee, who turns out to be a linesman working on the electrical lines in town. Opie was telling the truth all along, but his description was so fanciful that it was just too hard to believe.

Andy apologized to his son, and that’s the part that seemed to have “moved” to Ron Howard.

“[“Mr. McBeeVee”] was a beautiful episode, I loved that episode,” he told Television Academy Foundation. “I found it really heartbreaking. It was one of the few times that the actual storyline of an episode we were working on moved me.

“I remember the actor playing Mr. McBeevee, I thought he was really great. I think that’s probably one of the reasons why I found the episode so moving. Here was this guy, no one believed he existed, and it was so frustrating. I don’t know, I just remember being touched by that one.”

‘Andy Griffith Show’ Also Had Imaginary Horse

Early in the episode, Opie gallops around the backyard of the Taylor’s house on his pretend horse. He even has a name for the invisible steed — Blackie.

At the end of the show, during an in-world commercial for Jell-O, Barney Fife gets angry at the idea that a horse would enjoy the dessert.

After arguing back and forth about what this imaginary horse would or wouldn’t eat, Fife has had enough and turns his back on the whole conversation. That’s when Blackie sticks his head through the window to the shock and dismay of the bumbling deputy. Don Knotts gives one of his great double-takes when the horse head pops through the open kitchen window.

The ad from that episode of The Andy Griffith Show remains one of the more popular from the show.

Happy Days even referenced Blackie years later. Ron Howard’s character is spotted wearing a pair of pajamas that feature a horse that looks an awful lot like his “imaginary one.”

Even The Fonz likes it. “That’s a very cute shirt with the horseys,” the Fonz tells Richie Cunningham. “I had jammies like that.”