Ron Howard: Andy Griffith ''didn't like The Beverly Hillbillies''

He also wasn't a fan of Petticoat Junction!

Prime Entertainment Group

Andy Griffith was a creator and performer with discerning taste. So while he didn't write every episode of The Andy Griffith Show, his sensibility guided and molded the series. 

Most importantly, Griffith had a singular vision of character-based comedy. While some shows are written for the joke, The Andy Griffith Show was written with believable characters, first and foremost. Situations are funny because we know enough about Barney to know he won't do well in crisis.

That was the fundamental difference between his show and others, at least according to co-star Ron Howard. All grown up now, in 2024, Howard appeared as a guest on the podcast "Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend." The interview allowed Howard the chance to speak on his first big acting role, and what separated that show from the rest of TV history. 

"They were always stressing character. And Andy used to kill jokes if they were too broad. And he just kept saying, 'The South is plenty funny on its own, without having to reach for it, and do slapstick.'"

That's one of the fundamental changes the series underwent as it grew through its first season. While there are classics in each of the show's first couple of years, The Andy Griffith Show really found its footing as it pushed through its first thirty or so episodes, allowing Griffith to breathe and not be the focal point of every laugh.

"He didn't like Petticoat Junction and Hillbilly Ele- no, not Hillbilly Elegy, that's a movie I directed. He didn't like Beverly Hillbillies. Because they were doing sketch, basically. He didn't like Li'l Abner. As a result, I don't know that there have been other single-camera shows that held that tone. Maybe Real McCoys, you know, but they didn't have Don Knotts."

Watch The Andy Griffith Show on MeTV!

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10 Comments

DeborahRoberts 1 month ago
I'm with Andy, though I enjoyed Petticoat Junction. The best comedies are subtle, using the South as the source for material rather than making it the butt of the joke.
top_cat_james_1 1 month ago
"He didn't like Petticoat Junction and...[H]e didn't like Beverly Hillbillies. Because they were doing sketch, basically. He didn't like Li'l Abner."

Yet he had no problem portraying an exaggerated bucolic dumbbell in "No Time for Sergeants".

That was a role he played on Broadway in 1955. He played it in the movie version in 1958. He had no say in the character he was portraying. That was TWO YEARS before The Andy Griffith Show made him a household name.
Griffith actually performed the part 3 times--in an episode of the anthology TV series, "The United States Steel Hour" that aired before the Broadway adaption. So, again, why would he portray this character in THREE different mediums if he had any issues? Griffith didn't have to accept the part--Someone held a gun to his head and forced him to depict Stockdale for all those years? Your "had no say" argument therefore holds no water.

Finally, Andy was a "household name" long before TAGS debuted. That's the reason he received a starring vehicle in the first place. Try again.
He received a starring vehicle because Danny Thomas put him on his show. He was famous for his album and he had a breakout role in "A Face In The Crowd" but nothing serious on TV until his appearance on The Danny Thomas Show.
If you had bothered to read the comment you're replying to, you would know that Griffith originated his NTfS role on TV, which led to the stage and film versions. I'd call that "serious". And he certainly wouldn't have been considered for that "backdoor pilot" that led to the series if not for his rising popularity as a performer.
Runeshaper 1 month ago
That's interesting to read and find out.
LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Wouldnt it be cool if Weigel could get a plug from Ron Howard. I'm sure Mr. Howard is very busy,however the network has had plugs from Jamie Farr,Betty White,and others over the years. Just a thought.
deltadart 1 month ago
The Beverly Hillbillies is a great comedy show!

After Don Knotts left "Mayberry" in 1965 the Griffith show was not the same caliber of quality, sorry but that is a reality!
Coldnorth deltadart 1 month ago
Totally agree
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