One might think someone from “The Andy Griffith Show” would only play good characters. Well, this episode of “Bonanza” proves them wrong.
Ron Howard, who played Opie Taylor on the CBS sitcom, appears in a 1972 episode called “The Initiation.” Howard plays Ted Hoag, president of an elite club where initiation rites prove fatal. Jamie Cartwright, played by Mitch Vogel, joins the group and goes through the initiation.
But trouble brews when a classmate of his dies. Hoag gets blamed and, pretty soon, he’s a wanted young man. In order to cover for Hoag, Jamie speaks up and says he and the others are responsible for the death, too.
‘Bonanza’ Role Pretty Much Against Type Howard Played On ‘Griffith Show’
Yes, the role is pretty much anything one would associate with Opie. Howard appeared on “Bonanza” after his run on “The Andy Griffith Show” ended after eight seasons in 1968. It would not be far off, though, from his appearance in George Lucas’ film “American Graffiti” in 1973.
What do you think would follow that iconic role? Howard was cast in Garry Marshall’s new sitcom for ABC called “Happy Days.” Obviously, he played Richie Cunningham on the show.
Howard stayed on the show for seven seasons as he would become of Hollywood’s most prestigious movie directors.
Henry Winkler Understood Why Howard Left ‘Happy Days’ Role
This had been a lifelong dream for Howard. While some “Happy Days” costars might have not fully understood his reasoning, one sure did.
“No. I never thought of leaving,” Winkler said. “I thought, ‘If I sign my name to the paper, I’m going to honor my commitment.’ Ron’s choice was completely different.
“He knew from a very early age, maybe 15, that directing was going to be his path,” he said. “So after his commitment of 5 years was over, he left to pursue his passion. And luckily for us, he did, because he is truly one of the most successful directors in the world. And truly great at what he does.”
“Bonanza” was simply a role and job for Howard that, ultimately, led him to other shows and his dream.