Howard was hired to play Opie because of this television show
Young actor Ronny Howard became part of The Andy Griffith Show at the age of 6 in the role of Opie Taylor. When he started, the future director wasn’t even yet able to read his scripts, but he knew erratic behavior when he saw it.
Particularly that of actor Don Knotts who, when he got into the rhythm of his portrayal of Barney Fife, used his face, his limbs, and his whole self to bring the personality of the deputy sheriff to life.
Here’s Howard’s first impression of the Barney Fife actor.
Ron Howard, Jim Nabors, Andy Griffith, and Don Knotts of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ | Silver Screen Collection/Getty ImagesHoward was hired to play Opie because of this television show
In his conversation with the Television Academy Foundation, Howard noted that it was his appearance on the 1950s television program General Electric Theater that got him noticed by actor Ronald Reagan, who then put in a good word for the young actor: “It was a pilot for a TV series. And Ronald Reagan was then hosting that show.”
Unknown to Howard, his small, uncredited role on the episode did not escape the attention of the future U.S. president.
Andy Griffith, Ronny Howard, and Frances Bavier of ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, 1960 | CBS via Getty Images
“I guess I didn’t have much of a credit, but Ronald Reagan had seen the episode and at the end, he just ad-libbed this thing and said, ‘Special thanks to little Ronnie Howard who did a wonderful job as Barnaby’ or something like that,” he recalled.
“And that led [The Andy Griffith Show producer] Sheldon Leonard to call my agent and say, ‘I’m doing a series with Andy Griffith and we need a son,’” he said.
Don Knotts said at times ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ exhausted him
For Knotts, working on The Andy Griffith Show was a delight. He was dismayed to leave the show when he did in 1965, but did so upon Griffith’s stated desire to end the show in its fifth season.
There was, however, one side to playing Barney Fife that literally wore him out and that was the role’s strenuousness.
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Source:: Showbiz Cheat Sheet