‘The Andy Griffith Show’: Ron Howard’s Father Appears in Several Small Roles Throughout the Series

by Josh Lanier
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Ron Howard wasn’t the only person in his family to appear in The Andy Griffith Show. The show was a veritable family affair for the Howards.

Ron Howard famously starred as Opie Taylor, the son of Andy Griffith’s character. His brother, Clint, appeared in the five episodes as a young boy and friend of Opie named Leon. Their father Rance also showed up in the four episodes, but he played several different characters.

“Barney and the Governor” is likely his most memorable role. In the episode, Mayberry’s bumbling deputy Barney Fife sees a car illegally parked and writes them a ticket. He doesn’t realize it’s the Governor of North Carolina’s car. When the governor returns to Mayberry to thank Barney for doing his job, Barney hides, fearing the governor is coming to fire him. Rance Howard plays the governor’s chauffeur who has a run-in with Barney.

The episode is one of the more popular ones with fans. Mostly because it’s the episode where Barney gets drunk to cope with the governor’s impending visit.

Rance Howard also played a party guest in “A Black Day for Mayberry,” a bus driver in “Cousin Virgil,” and was a party guest in “The Rumor.”

Rance Howard had a very long career. He’s appeared in dozens of movies and television shows including Gunsmoke, Bonanza, and even Baywatch. He worked up until his death in 2017.

Ron Howard’s Mom Appeared in Apollo 13

Every member of Ron Howard’s family acted. Even his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard is an actress and director, following in her father’s footsteps. Ron Howard’s mom, Jean Speegle Howard, acted but took a break from show business to raise her boys. She returned to the business when they were older.

Ron cast his mom in the role of astronaut Jim Lovell’s mom in Apollo 13. Though, he made her audition for the role first. He said he wanted to make sure she was up to the role, and she nailed it, he remembered. She’s in the film in a very memorable scene.

“I didn’t want to do (the audition) at the office, so I said I’d come by the house and we’d read through the scene,” Ron recalled in 2014. “So I came by, and she was nervous. She had a little housecoat and was prepared to do it. And we went through it a couple of times and she made me cry just because I was proud of her as a son and also because I knew that she could do it, and this was an opportunity. And it was just one or two takes on the day of shooting, but it was a great moment.”

Jean Speegle Howard continued acting after that. She had dozens of small film and television roles following Apollo 13 until she died in 2000.

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