Here's how one of Ron Howard's childhood bullies became one of his best friends

Howard was Opie, through and through.

One of the real reasons that The Andy Griffith Show made such an impact was because the characters were so familiar to the audience. It was as if they were actual people. This was a conscious effort from people like Andy Griffith, who had a hand in both the on-screen and off-screen elements of the series and who intentionally based the town of Mayberry on his rural Southern upbringing.

The casting of little Ronnie Howard was also a seemingly intuitional choice. While Howard himself came from parents who were immersed in show business as actors, they were also careful to ensure that their son was still given a traditional childhood, unlike many child stars in Hollywood who missed out on adolescence in favor of stardom. While Howard's Hollywood life was far different than the life of Opie Taylor, the young Howard was still able to see himself in the character. In an interview with The Lima Citizen, a young Howard explained, "It isn't acting." He explained, "I sound like Opie and I do in real life the things that he does. I'm playing myself more or less." 

Howard also told the Hartford Courant, "I'm in the business for myself" when pressed as to whether he had become an actor for his own enjoyment or for the sake of his parents.

In fact, Rance Howard, Ron's father, seemed to go out of his way for his son's benefit, even making decisions for the family because they would benefit his children. Ron once revealed, "Dad just bought our first new home — right on the same street where we've been renting." He asked. "You know why? So I wouldn't lose my friends."

If Howard still isn't Opie enough for you, here's another fun tidbit. Howard revealed that one of his closest friends as a child actually started out as an enemy. "One of my best friends is a boy, bigger than me, who wanted to fight." Howard pragmatically stated, "I figured my best chance with him was wrassling, so he said okay, but he beat me anyway." Like an episode out of The Andy Griffith Show, Howard stated that after that, the two boys grew to be friends. He reasoned, "I guess he just wanted to measure me."

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

Weeknights at 8 & 8:30, Sundays at 6 & 6:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

15 Comments

djfone 1 month ago
If you watch the classic movie "Chinatown", there's a powerful early scene where Jack Nicholson's J. J. Gittes is attending a boring City Hall meeting about a proposed dam to alleviate the L. A. water supply issues. Just then an enraged farmer leads his goats into City Hall to protest what's been going on with farmers in the San Fernando Valley. That farmer is Ron's father, Rance Howard.
djfone 1 month ago
"The casting of little Ronnie Howard was also a seemingly intuitional choice." Intuitional? I guess "intuitive" was already checked out of the library.

Ron and Clint Howard co-authored a book just a couple years ago about their childhood, titled "The Boys".
WVsassy 2 months ago
MeTV staff…. It’s spelled “wrestling”, not “wrassling”. 😂😂. Or, I guess it could be “wrassling”, if you’re using Hooked on Phonics. 😂
dodger13 WVsassy 2 months ago
Wrassling is the present participle of wrassle, which means to struggle or fight. It is often used in the context of wrestling, a sport or entertainment involving physical contact and grappling.
djfone WVsassy 1 month ago
I've also seen, in its colloquial sense, " 'rasslin' " In St. Louis in the '70s there was a guy who placed classified ads every day titled "Wanna Rassle?". It turned out he was based at Kerpan's Spa and gym, and he was trying to lure teenage jocks into a lot more than just 'rasslin'.
Rob 2 months ago
So who was it? Who was the friend?
BenSobeleone Rob 2 months ago
Kurt Russell? Jeff Bridges?
Coldnorth BenSobeleone 30 days ago
Maybe it was the kid who always had the peanut butter and jelly sammiches
seltaeb 2 months ago
Wonder if his real life friend's name was Johnny Paul Jason or Hodie Snitch. He also had a friend named Arnold in the later color episodes.
CarolKelley seltaeb 2 months ago
Ronnie Dapo played Arnold. He was in the Music Man with Ron and also in the original version of Ocean's 11.
JHP seltaeb 2 months ago
arnold was the "spoiled kid" in an episode
Opie duked it out with a few kids - could have been the apple stealer and tomato thrower (wonder if his voice ever changed)
BenSobeleone JHP 2 months ago
Oh, that kid! "Just knock this off my shoulder. I dare ya!"
JHP BenSobeleone 2 months ago
Yep

"just step inside this lyyyyyyyyne"
Runeshaper 2 months ago
That's an interesting story. It's good that Ron maintained some form of a traditional childhood.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?