Elinor Donahue admits that Ron Howard was the best child actor she ever worked with

Little Ron Howard made a big impact on her during that first season of The Andy Griffith Show.

Elinor Donahue has had such a storied career, you can only be impressed when she makes special mention of particular actors that she’s worked with who moved her. It’s well known that Donahue left The Andy Griffith Show after a mere 11 episodes, but there was one actor that she particularly loved working with. 

In an interview with the American Archive of Television, Donahue revealed that little Ron Howard was "the best child actor I have ever worked with up to that point." Considering she herself was a sitcom kid, having played eldest child Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, that was no faint praise.

Donahue admitted that she's had the pleasure of working with plenty of child actors over the course of her career, and reassured the interviewer that many of them were lovely. However, when it came to young Howard, there was something special about him.

The credit, she claims, goes directly to his parents.

"They were wonderful parents," she said. "They kept Ronnie a little boy, and that’s hard to do. He was just a great child." Donahue recalled seeing Howard’s folks around the set often, especially his father, Rance Howard.

A successful character actor himself, Rance was often seen on set with his son, helping him get into character and prepare for scenes. "Rance would come to the set with Ron and taught him his lines."

Ron Howard and Elinhor Donahue in season 1, episode 4 of The Andy Griffith Show.
This kind of attention not only produced a delightful child to be around, but a budding performer as well.

Donahue said, "He just had something. He was not acting – he was right there, you were those people. It was thrilling! Always knew his lines — knew your lines as well."

In the entertainment field, coworkers may come and go, but there’s something to be said about having such a positive experience with someone so young. How would Donahue sum up her experience with little Ronnie Howard?

"And a nice little boy, not the least bit bratty or know-ot-all-or anything. Just adorable! I loved him!"

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Fuming 18 days ago
Peggy was my favorite of Andy's various girlfriends, I remember her singing a nice duet with Andy (down in the valley) while sitting on the porch steps. Angry Helen was the worst, even the "fun" girls from Mt Pilot would have been better.
Ceecee 22 days ago
Yes helen was a jeolous and insecure woman. Andy couldn even glance at another woman.
Rick 22 days ago
*12* episodes. Ellie was in TWELVE episodes in the first season. And as far as I'm concerned, she's the one that got away. No other woman Andy courted measured up to Ellie Walker. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053479/fullcredits?ref_=tt_cl_sm#cast
daDoctah 22 days ago
And years later she got to play the TV mom of a grown man-child, Chris Elliot on "Get a Life". (Chris's real father played his dad.)
Ceecee 22 days ago
I agree, I would take ellie, or miss peggy over helen anytime. Never was a fan of hers. She could be mean and very jealous.
Tlor Ceecee 22 days ago
I loved Peggy!!! wasn't she the one that played Annie Oakley too? loved her
CouchPotato19 Ceecee 21 days ago
What. Is Andy just supposed to be flirtin' around on her and she should just accept it?
Tony Tlor 2 days ago
No. That was Gail Davis. She played Thelma Lou's friend Karen that beat Andy in a skeet shooting contest.
Joanna Moore was Peggy. She was married to Ryan O'Neal and is Tatum's mother. She had major substance abuse issues.
SheriHeffner 24 days ago
I have always loved Ron Howard too.
KathyMcKinny 24 days ago
You all notice she said NOTHING about his BIZARRE brother Clint
Were they ever in an episode together? I can't remember...
Tlor jholton30062 22 days ago
I knew he was the kid that used to have jelly sandwiches and offered to share :-)
Tlor jholton30062 22 days ago
I had dig around and found his name was Leon on the show. Wore cowboy outfit and always eating his peanut butter and jam sandwiches.. then he went on to Gentle Ben? didn't know that either
jholton30062 Tlor 1 day ago
Duh... of course! Don't know where my head was that day...
RichardPniewski 24 days ago
Give me Miss Ellie over Helen Crump any day!
Characters YES, but Ellie and Andy had NO chemistry AT ALL, it was like watching siblings act together. Whereas Helen and Andy had ALOT of chemistry.......it even spilled over into real life!
Tlor KathyMcKinny 22 days ago
ugh to think of Andy even remotely liking Helen is gross
Tlor RichardPniewski 22 days ago
Ellie was a jealous little snit too.. only Peggy was sweet.
ETristanBooth Tlor 22 days ago
Nurse Mary Simpson was sweet as well.
RobCertSDSCascap 24 days ago
OF COURSE he behaved himself! His father was always close by to whip his ass
if he didn't.
I read somewhere that Rance once spanked Ron right on a set for being uncooperative with the directors. I don't remember on which show's set that happened. And I think I read that in a Bathroom Reader book.
Wow!
Also, I love the Bathroom Readers and have more than 25 volumes.
πŸ™‚You've got more editions than me. I know you have the TV one. That's a must-have for MeTV fans.
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