‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Before Being a Friend of Opie, One Actress’ First Appearance Was in the Mayberry Jail

by Taylor Cunningham
(Photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)

One of Opie Taylor’s friends spent a little time in the slammer on The Andy Griffith Show.

Surprisingly, The Andy Griffith Show’s 1960 episode titled Christmas Story was the only holiday special the series ever aired. But it was, and still is, one of the most infamous Christmas episodes in television history.

During the episode, a grumpy and rich businessman has a local moonshiner locked up in the Mayberry Jail. And the moonshiner’s family ends up behind bars as well. Of course, the story ends up being a wholesome tale, and the businessman is so overcome with the holiday spirit that, by the end, he asks to be arrested as well. That way, he can join the loving family and spend Christmas with them in jail.

Among the family members in jail is the moonshiner’s little girl, Effie. After Andy frees Effie from the big house, she disappears for seven years. Then, the actress, Joy Ellison, shows up in another episode much later called Opie’s First Love.

In that episode, Opie gets his first taste of heartbreak when his crush, Mary Alice Carter, breaks a date to hang out with one of the “cooler boys.” And Joy Ellison plays the part of Mary Alice’s best friend, Iris.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Why Ron Howard’s Parents Refused to Let Show Make a Line of ‘Opie’ Clothes

Opie Taylor’s Ron Howard got his big Hollywood break when he played Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. Appearing in such a famous series set Howard up to be a classic child star. But his parents refused to let him fall into the trap.

Opie Taylor and Ron Howard were both household names in the 1960s. But Howard’s parents tried their best to give their son a normal childhood. So they avoided the Hollywood lifestyle and made sure that their eldest son, Ron Howard, went to school, joined sports teams, and played with neighborhood kids.

“I wasn’t really a Hollywood kid too much,” Howard told the Washington Post in 1985. “Because I didn’t really know any other Hollywood kids, and my parents didn’t allow my time away from The Andy Griffith Show to be absorbed by promotional things.”

Rance and Jean Howard didn’t want their son traveling the country to meet star-struck fans for those “promotional things,” so they turned down dozens of opportunities to get rich. And one of the opportunities they declined was a clothing line based on Opie’s on-screen style.

“Somebody wanted to do an Opie line of boys’ clothing, and I guess it would have been a fairly lucrative thing,” he continued. “But they wanted me to travel to different department stores. And my parents just said no.”