Ron Howard’s parents wanted him to be a normal kid. So when he was starring as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, they said no to some lucrative endorsement deals.
Rance and Jean Howard wanted to make sure their oldest son went to all his classes. They wanted him to play Little League baseball. But they said no to a deal of putting their son’s name on a line of Opie clothes from The Andy Griffith Show.
“I wasn’t really a Hollywood kid too much,” Howard told the Washington Post in 1985. “Because I didn’t really know any other Hollywood kids, and my parents didn’t allow my time away from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ to be absorbed by promotional things.
“Somebody wanted to do an Opie line of boys’ clothing, and I guess it would have been a fairly lucrative thing, but they wanted me to travel to different department stores. And my parents just said no.”
Howard said his parents often called themselves “sophisticated hicks.” They both were from small town Oklahoma. Rance grew up in Newkirk, his wife, Jean, lived in Duncan. And they met while drama students at the University of Oklahoma. Fellow Sooner Dennis Weaver introduced the two. Weaver went on to play Chester on Gunsmoke and then star in McCloud. Rance and Jean Howard had acting careers, as did son, Clint. But Ron was the star of the family.
Howard Earned Role on Andy Griffith Show After Shout Out from Ronald Reagan
Howard landed his role as Opie when a producer of the Andy Griffith Show heard Ronald Reagan talk about the youngster. This was in early 1960, after Howard played Barnaby on an edition of the TV show General Electric Theater, which was hosted by Reagan. The producer called Howard’s agent and told him they were making The Andy Griffith Show. They needed to cast Andy’s young son and six-year-old Ronnie looked perfect for the part.
Howard said it finally hit him that being on shows series like The Andy Griffith Show could be very lucrative. He needed baseball, and the contract negotiations with two-star pitchers for the Los Angeles Dodgers, to bring it home for him. He told the Post:
“In ’66 when (Sandy) Koufax and (Don) Drysdale were holding out for $100,000, I remember reading that — it was headlines in the sports page every day,” Howard said. “And (he) sat down and figured out what my salary was going to be for the 34 shows we were going to do that year. And it came to $105,000.
“When it occurred to me that at 12 I was making the same money that Koufax was, that was the first time that I put in perspective what the money was.”
To think, it could’ve been more if only his parents would’ve allowed the Opie clothing line.