Ron Howard wasn't exactly smitten with Opie's girlfriends behind the scenes

Child actor Joy Ellison remembers acting with Howard at that age where "boys and girls kind of hated each other."

From the very first season of The Andy Griffith Show, it’s established that Floyd’s Barber Shop is where the men go to hang out, and it’s uncommon to see any ladies break this barrier.

The first girl to do it wasn’t Ellie Walker or Aunt Bee, though.

In the episode "The Beauty Contest," it was one of Opie’s classmates Mary Wiggins who becomes the first girl seen at Floyd’s Barber Shop, and this might be one reason that The Andy Griffith Show fans remember this relatively unknown child star.

Playing Mary Wiggins was an actor named Joy Ellison who today is a dialect coach on noted TV and movie projects.

Back in the 1960s, she got her start in Hollywood when The Andy Griffith Show pulled her into the first season "Christmas Story" episode.

After that, she appeared on Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Have Gun – Will Travel, but during this time, The Andy Griffith Show pulled her into more episodes than any other TV show.

After "Christmas Story," Ellison featured in five more Mayberry episodes, and she said she has lots of fond memories of being on The Andy Griffith Show.

"It was great," Ellison said. "It was a really warm, happy kind of set."

Especially for a child actor breaking into TV work for the very first time, she said that she felt she fit right in on Andy Griffith’s set.

"It was great for kids because it was such a family kind of feeling," she said. "There was such a great chemistry with everyone that any newcomer was openly embraced."

However, that didn’t mean that she was hanging out with Ron Howard, bonding and becoming one of his best pals. She said there was a simple reason Howard didn’t befriend her behind the scenes over her many appearances.

"Even though Ron Howard and I were usually classmates or boyfriend-girlfriend, he and I were sort of at that age where boys and girls kind of hated each other, so we didn’t really get to hang out or get to be pals."

The childish behavior she describes likely sounds familiar to anyone who ever got a "cootie shot."

Ellison appeared on The Andy Griffith Show from age 7 to 13, and though she never got to know the show’s youngest star the way some fans might’ve expected, that never bothered her. She always enthusiastically said yes any time Mayberry called her to come back.

"It was always just a warm atmosphere, and they were great to kids," Ellison said. "It was a really high point whenever I got called."

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Andybandit 1 month ago
I thought Karen was a cute kid for Opie
Runeshaper 1 month ago
It's great to hear that the set was so good for kid stars. Sounds like Joy had a lot of fun! (-:
bagandwallyfan52 1 month ago
Rest IN Peace
Betty Lynn
Thelma Lou
The Andy Griffith Show
Passed Away 2021
Age 95
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cperrynaples LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Sorry I forgot Donahue and Peterson! Donahue was first season and Peterson only did a few shows BUT did appear in RTM!
Johnny Paul Jason
Arnold
LoveMETV22 cperrynaples 1 month ago
I remember Peterson more. Even though she only did one more episode than Clint, she spoke in her roles. Just makes her more memorable.
Yes- Richard Keith who played Johnny Paul Jason / Johnny Paul / Carter French ( in one episode). As I had said in a previous comment there are probably a few less credited or other characters still with us. But aside from Ron and Elinor- Clint and Maggie stand as memorable characters.
ELEANOR 1 month ago
She came on the show, had fun, and "studied" Acting 101. That set was a child friendly set and they all knew that when a child was not in front of a camera; that it was VERY IMPORTANT to let that child be a child. They had Ronnie Howard's Little League schedule and made sure that he got to all of his games. As to the question about if she looked Ronnie's way and did he look her way? How stupid can you get? She was busy learning about Southern accents, even at that young age.
CoreyC 1 month ago
One of Opie's girlfriends was Suzanne Cupito who changed her name to Morgan Brittany and was Pam Ewing's crazy half sister Katherine of Dallas.
JHP 1 month ago
hate to sound demeaning but if I was stuck with that girl pictured...YUK!

Todd 1 month ago
Gomer couldn't do that nowadays
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
She also played a girl that dates Gomer on Gomer Pyle.
bagandwallyfan52 1 month ago
One girl that Opie liked was
Sharon(Sometimes Karen)
Played by Ronda Jeter.
That’s the one I remember!
harlow1313 1 month ago
Joy Ellison does some fine rug cutting with one PFC Gomer Pyle. Of course, no one can dance like Gomer. I mimic his cool moves at wedding receptions. I have been known to empty the dance floor.
I dance more like Elaine on "Seinfeld". Not as bad, but you get the idea. Now, I do like slow dancing.
Oh, I also incorporate her "little kicks."
JHP harlow1313 1 month ago
Hey guys - I dance like Mr Ed:)
LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Thank you MeTV for that very nice story. Also like the link with the Google doc of "Mayberry Memories", lots of interesting pictures and stories. I wish MeTV did that with stories when they quote a newspaper source, instead of the subscription to view window. Just opinion.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Well the "diamond" in THIS story is about more than Joy Ellison. No doubt every TAGS fan knows about the book offered here in the link. But causal readers are encouraged to check it out as well. Not just about the TV series but a collection of people who, through their own words and examples, demonstrate WHY this Show has been such a success! What fans wouldn't give to see any good expose written about their own favorite, presented in this manner, is a treasure. LoveMETV22 is correct, but my guess is, there are too few retrospectives like this in the public domain. But short and sweet, it reads like an actor or crew member's, personal scrapbook.

MeTV Writers: you've outdone yourself this time, in sharing this brief but valuable TAGS treasure with all of us.

Thank you.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 1 month ago
Thank You Pacificsun, always enjoy your input. I did enjoy the article even more so the link they provided with pictures and commentaries. My point was that if they can put up a google doc from a book, why not do the same when they quote from a news article in their stories, ( If it adds to the main point in the story)
An example story: The popularity war between M*A*S*H writers and rival TV execs had one very public battle which they posted on September 28, 2021.
In the article : " Documenting the great TV debate was The Chicago Tribune, which reported".
That would have been a good story to provide a Google type doc with supporting information.
Not saying that they need to document their sources , but for some stories such as this one it would have been a good addition.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 1 month ago
Yes, that one just read "incompletely" (if that's a word). It was intriguing but we needed more context. And my guess it might've gone to reveal more industry insight in general.

Glad we're keeping the "watch" right! Always fun, and thank you for always being so responsive. The interaction is great!!
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 1 month ago
Yes they don't have to do it for every story, but for stories like that the additional information helps solidify the content. They have done stories and put a link in, but when you click the link it takes you to a pay or subscribe page. Not to be repetitive but I don't want to subscribe to read additional info. I would think it's the same as when you click on a picture and copy and paste. It's not like someone is going to take the info they add and try to sell it. But I may be wrong who knows. Just my two ceents on it LoL.
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