‘The Andy Griffith Show’: What Were the Four Different Roles Ron Howard’s Father, Rance, Had on Show?

by John Jamison
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These days most would recognize Ron Howard’s daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard, from movies like “Jurassic World” or “The Help.” But back in the days of “The Andy Griffith Show,” it was a different Howard family combination working in the industry together.

When Ronnie Howard first played the role of Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show,” he was only six years old. As a result, his father spent a great deal of time around the set. But Rance Howard was also an actor himself. And he became quite a prolific one in the years following “Griffith,” in fact.

His presence around the set of “The Andy Griffith Show” show turned into a few appearances on the show. Rance Howard popped up in four different episodes, playing a different character each time.

His first appearance came in a 1962 installment titled “Cousin Virgil.” It depicts a visit from Barney’s hapless cousin, who can’t seem to get anything right. Rance Howard can be seen in the role of the bus driver.

Next came an appearance in a different, albeit very similar role. In the 1963 episode titled “Barney and the Governor,” Barney unknowingly tickets the governor’s car. It prompts a visit from the man himself, causing Barney a great deal of stress, thinking he’s in trouble. Throughout the episode, Rance Howard can be seen playing the role of the governor’s chauffeur.

His next appearance came in “A Black Day for Mayberry,” the town catches wind of a gold shipment that will be coming through town en route to Fort Knox. Rance Howard plays a treasury agent in the episode.

Finally, his fourth appearance came during Season 4 of “The Andy Griffith Show.” The episode is titled “The Rumor,” and Rance shows up as a party guest.

The Extremely Busy Career of Rance Howard After ‘The Andy Griffith Show’

Thanks in part to his son’s own success, Rance Howard went on to rack up over 280 acting credits before his death in 2017. It was truly an extremely busy character acting career. Busy to the point where it’s exhausting scrolling through all of the titles.

And beyond the volume, the versatility is impressive to behold. Rance Howard was involved in anything and everything. From parts in blockbuster movies to popping up on an episode of “Workaholics,” the late Howard family patriarch clearly loved working in the industry.

Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” have Rance Howard to thank for the impact the family has made on entertainment. When Rance Howard decided to pursue a career in show business, he made a resounding mark on the history of classic television and movies.

“If my dad was a doctor, I would be a doctor. If he had stayed on the farm, I probably would have been on the farm. He left the farm to chase this dream,” Ron Howard told the Smartless podcast.

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