‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Actor Credited Two People for Ron Howard’s Success

by Megan Molseed
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The Andy Griffith Show” premiered in 1960. For nearly a decade, the wholesome sitcom remained an American household mainstay.

Even 53 years after the show’s final episode, it remains a popular fan favorite. The series revolved around Mayberry sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith). With the sheriff was a cast of characters that joined Andy in both his professional and personal lives.

While serving the (mostly) peaceful town of Mayberry as sheriff, Taylor is also raising his young son, Opie (Ron Howard). While a widower, Taylor does have his hands full with the rambunctious kiddo, he has plenty of assistance from live-in help. 

“The Andy Griffith Show’s” Ron Howard Had A Lot of Support As A Young Actor

Since the show’s end, Ron Howard went on to continue a successful acting career. He played Richie Cunningham in the popular show “Happy Days.” Ron Howard later tried his hand in directing and found great success, becoming one of the most successful men in Hollywood. 

In a 2015 interview, one of Howard’s very first co-stars discussed the young actor. At the time, Howard went by “Ronnie Howard.” 

“I credit his parents,” said Elinor Donahue in an interview with the American Archive of Television. 

“They were wonderful parents,”  the actress added. “They kept Ronnie a little boy. Just a wonderful child.” 

Elinor Donahue was a key player in the first season of the popular sitcom. For the first 12 episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” the actress played the role of the Mayberry pharmacist, Ellie Walker. 

The former “Andy Griffith Show” actress noted that she remembers seeing the young star’s father on set with him quite often. 

“Rance would come to the set with Ron and taught him his lines,” Donahue said. 

Both of Ron Howard’s parents were also in the acting business. 

Howard’s mother, Jean Speegle Howard spent much of her career making small appearances on television and in film. 

Howard’s father, Rance Howard was an actor who found fame in the late 1940s. One of his biggest early roles came in 1950. The role was opposite Henry Fonda as part of a “Mister Roberts” play touring company. Rance Howard even guest-starred in a few episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show.” 

As his son, Ron, started developing his career behind the film camera, Rance became a regular face in many of his movies. Rance Howard appeared in many of Ron Howard’s film productions including “Splash” and “A Beautiful Mind.”

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