When Ron Howard, who played Opie, started on “The Andy Griffith Show,” he was just 5 years old. He couldn’t even read yet. But the adults around him were instantly impressed by his acting abilities.
That included Don Knotts. Knotts played Deputy Barney Fife on the show. And he said Howard was a very nice little boy whose talent blew them all away.
“Ron was a natural actor,” Knotts told the Television Academy Foundation in 1999. “To be as good as he was at the age of 5 was incredible. I couldn’t believe it when I saw him act. I mean, he could do a cheerful scene or a funny scene or… Whatever you gave him, he just instinctively knew how to do it. Amazing.”
“Andy and he had a very good relationship,” Knotts added. He said the two stars “got along great.”
Watch Knotts’ comments here:
After ‘The Andy Griffith Show,’ Ron Howard Went on to Direct
After he appeared on “The Andy Griffith Show,” Howard starred in the TV classic “Happy Days.” But from the time he was in high school on, he developed a fascination with directing. And luckily for Howard, he got an up-close education in the technical aspects of directing from the various productions he acted in.
In the mid-1970s, Howard made a deal with producer Roger Corman, according to Biography.com. In exchange for Howard starring in Corman’s 1976 film “Eat My Dust,” Corman would help Howard get something he wanted: his first directing experience. That deal produced the 1977 film “Grand Theft Auto,” Howard’s first major motion picture.
In 1986, Howard co-founded Imagine Films Entertainment with Brian Grazer. He then went on to direct such films as “Parenthood,” “Apollo 13,” “Ransom” and “The Da Vinci Code.” Howard later won Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture for “A Beautiful Mind” in 2002.
Howard and His Brother Have a Memoir Coming Out
Howard and his brother Clint have a memoir coming out on Oct. 12. Clint was also a child actor. The book is titled “The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family.” It describes the experiences of their close-knit nuclear family set against the backdrop of an often harsh town.
“As Ron and Clint came of age in the ’60s and ’70s as actors, America grew up with them. More than an exploration of the cultural touchstones of their TV and film work, though, these pages also convey a profound sense of brotherhood and the importance of family, all told with a self-deprecating humor and candor that completely wins you over,” executive editor Mauro DiPreta said in a statement, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The impetus for the book was the passing of the Howard brothers’ father Rance in 2017. The Howards feel that their parents achieved a remarkable feat in raising two well-adjusted adults who started out as child stars. And the memoir details how they did it.
As Knotts himself acknowledged, Howard’s father was always with him on the set of “The Andy Griffith Show.” So despite their decision to let their boys work at an early age, perhaps the Howard parents were a bit more protective than most.