‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Explained How Griffith ‘Set the Tone’ with Show’s Creators

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)

Andy Griffith knew what it was like to grow up in the South. Ron Howard gives him credit for setting the tone of “The Andy Griffith Show.”

The sitcom “more kind of reflected his memory of the South that he grew up in,” Howard said in an interview with the Archive of American Television. “Andy really set the tone for the show.”

Howard, who played Opie Taylor on the popular sitcom, also gave producer Aaron Rubin a lot of credit, too.

“Aaron Rubin worked closely with Andy and developed the stories and understood the characters,” he said. Rubin also knew how to make a great television show, Howard said, as did “The Andy Griffith Show” executive producer Sheldon Leonard.

“But the tone very much reflected Andy and his sensibility and his sense of humor,” Howard said.

‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Was Reflective Of Star’s Life In North Carolina

In talking about the series itself, Howard said “The Andy Griffith Show” was centered around Griffith as a Southerner from North Carolina. Griffith actually was born in Mount Airy, N.C., so that’s not a stretch at all.

“It was a very naturalistic, not broad, farcical look at the bucolic South,” Howard said. “Small-town, southern America.”

The actor-director adds that “Andy used to say, ‘Even though we are making a show in the ’60s, Mayberry is the town I grew up in in the ’40s.’

“So there was something nostalgic about it already,” Howard said. “It wasn’t trying to be current.”

Show Was On CBS For Eight Seasons, Then Retitiled As ‘Mayberry, R.F.D.’

“The Andy Griffith Show” spent eight seasons on CBS, a few more than Griffith’s original plan to do just five. Its 249 episodes spanned from 1960 to 1968. Howard was part of the cast for its entire run. Besides Griffith and Howard, other cast members included Don Knotts, Frances Bavier, Jim Nabors, and George Lindsey.

The show produced one spinoff series. “Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C” featured Nabors as Pyle, who worked at the Mayberry gas station, going in the Marine Corps. “Mayberry, R.F.D.” was the new name given to “The Andy Griffith Show” after its star left the show. Ken Berry, who earlier starred in “F Troop,” was the show’s main star and the show ran for three seasons.

Griffith would go on to star in another hit TV series later in life. “Matlock” featured him as defense attorney Ben Matlock for nine seasons. On July 3, 2012, he died at 86 years old in Manteo, N.C.

But classic TV fans love watching Andy, Opie, Barney, Aunt Bee, Gomer, Goober, and the other characters. “The Andy Griffith Show” lives on in reruns around the world.