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

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.”

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