In 1973, The Andy Griffith Show star Ron Howard took a slightly more serious guest spot on M*A*S*H. And though he had tried his hand at more than five dozen series and films by that time, he admitted that the two classic TV shows felt uniquely similar to each other.
That year, Howard was five years past his stint in Mayberry. And he was a student at the University of Southern California working towards his dream of becoming a director.
While he was heavily focused on school, M*A*S*H happened to be filming during his spring break. So because Howard had time on his hands, he figured, “why not?”
And when the 19-year-old Howard arrived on set, he felt like he was stepping back into the series that made him famous.
“The M*A*S*H episode was really fun because I was treated as a TV vet on the show. And I was going to college at that time. And it fit into my Easter break,” he told the Archive of American Television.
“It also was kind of comfortable because that was a one-camera show,” he added. ” So it reminded me a little bit of the way The Andy Griffith Show was done.”
Howard also noted how much fun he had joking around with Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers. And he said that he felt honored by the fact that the iconic actors treated him like a star.
While Starring on M*A*S*H, The ‘Andy Griffith’ Actor Played a Love Struck Marine
The actor’s one and only M*A*S*H appearance was in a season one episode titled Sometimes You Hear the Bullet. In it, Howard plays a young marine named Wendell who lied to his parents and went off to war to impress a girl back home who ran off with a soldier.
However, it doesn’t take long for the wise Hawkeye to realize that the naive kid wasn’t old enough to enlist. And after digging around, he also comes to find out that Wendell’s name is in fact, Walter.
But when the Captain confronts the kid, Walter begs him not to send him away.
“I don’t wanna go home,” he says. “Please. I’d rather stay here.”
And aside from sharing similar filming methods, the show also showed the former Opie getting fatherly advice about love and life. But this time, the subject was much more dramatic.
As the story plays out, Hawkeye promises not to turn Walter in. The kid was desperate to earn a heroic medal that he was certain would win the love of his ex.
Hawkeye tried convincing the soldier that the girl wasn’t worth Walter’s efforts. But when the advice failed to convince Walter to leave, Hawkeye made the decision to tell Margaret the secret.
In the end, Walter was furious with the “double-crosser.” But Hawkeye earned back his trust by getting him the medal that he neither earned nor deserved.