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."