‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Explained How Griffith Was the ‘Architect’ of Show Despite Not Writing It

by Joe Rutland

There’s no doubt Andy Griffith is the star of “The Andy Griffith Show,” yet people may not know how involved he was in the show.

Ron Howard, who played Opie Taylor as a child actor, talks about Griffith’s hands-on work during a 2012 interview with “Entertainment Tonight.” Howard spoke with the show just after learning of Griffith’s death on July 3, 2012.

“Andy Griffith was not the producer of the show or the creator,” Howard said. “It wasn’t his original idea. He never wrote any episodes but, without a doubt, he was the architect. It was his. (And) it reflected his sensibility and it was sort of his voice.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Star Said Writers Learned To Capture Actor’s Sense Of Morals

“At work there week in and week out, I think the writers learned early on how to capture that,” he said. “Not just in Andy’s dialogue but in the attitude toward the characters.” Howard points to the nature of the storylines. Also, he speaks of the ways that the sort-of morals and ideas were expressed.

Howard, who goes from “The Andy Griffith Show” to star in “Happy Days,” says accepting people’s foibles was a reflection of Griffith himself. He says it is done in “a very humanistic, kind of non-judgmental way.”

He said that the fact that the show endures “is an absolute testament to the possibility that any medium can be transformed into real art, enduring art.”

Howard Said Griffith Found ‘Platform and Setting’ That Worked On TV Show

“When an individual voice, you know, finds the right sort-of platform and setting,” Howard said. “And I really think that’s what happened with ‘The Andy Griffith Show.'”

He pointed out that the show’s writers, directors, and executive producer Sheldon Leonard had huge hands in the show itself.

Howard said the star’s effort and vision “kept modifying and defining and redefining what Mayberry was and what it was supposed to represent.”

Griffith Gets Show After Appearance On ‘The Danny Thomas Show’

Griffith’s show actually happened after he appeared on an episode of “The Danny Thomas Show” as Sheriff Andy Taylor. Thomas drives through a small town when he gets pulled over for speeding.

Turns out, the person who pulls over Thomas is, in fact, Taylor. That episode acts as a sort-of pilot for Griffith’s show. It goes over so well with viewers that Thomas and his business partner Leonard saw they had a hit.

Leonard, who people see every Christmas as the bartender in the movie “It’s A Wonderful Life,” would simply offer tips and suggestions for scripts. He may have had hands in the show itself, but never made Griffith keep his suggestions. Griffith loved working with Leonard on “The Andy Griffith Show.”