‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard Couldn’t Read His Lines or Sign Autographs While Playing ‘Opie’

by Matthew Wilson
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Director Ron Howard got his start in the entertainment industry early during his life. In fact, the actor couldn’t even read or write when he played Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

Since he was a young kid, Howard hadn’t learned critical reading or writing skills yet. The actor depended on his father Rance Howard to help him learn the lines for the role. Additionally, when Howard started out, he couldn’t even sign autographs for fans of the show that approached him.

Howard actually learned how to write and eventually cursive writing so he could sign a proper autograph.

“In the beginning, my dad taught me my lines. Because I couldn’t read, and I couldn’t write,” Howard told The Television Academy Foundation. “In fact, I first learned to write to sign autographs. Because people were beginning to come up and ask me for autographs after ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ aired. I could print but it just took me forever. I actually learned cursive writing so I could sign autographs. 

Ron Howard on Being a Child Star

Some child actors reflect negatively on being a star so early in life. But for Ron Howard, he greatly enjoyed the experience. It was fun for him to be on set. His parents also watched out for him and never pressured him to act. In fact, they explained what he was signing up for. If he took the part of Opie, Howard would be joining a seven-year contract. They explained to him the importance of the decision. But Howard enjoyed acting, so it wasn’t a difficult decision.

“But I think it was pretty clear at that point I was enjoying it and I was good at it. The only thing I ever recall about it, my parents always said you don’t have to do this,” Howard said.

One of the reasons Howard thinks he had such a good time is because he was never the star. Even as Opie, Howard never had to carry a show on his back like the “Leave It to Beaver” cast did. Without the pressures of being a leading man, Howard could have fun and relax on set as a result.

The actor would eventually land a leading role on the hit sitcom “Happy Days” and transition into a career as a director after his time on the show as well.

Outsider.com