Ron Howard Pens Tribute To 'Leader, Mentor And Coach' Andy Griffith: [ send to a friend ]
Ron Howard, who played Opie Taylor in 'The Andy Griffith Show', has penned a tribute to his old friend in the New York Daily News. Andy Griffith died at the age of 86 on Tuesday morning.
"We stayed in touch via the phone," begins Howard. "My dad spoke with him about six weeks ago and Andy was upbeat and enjoying his life and hoping to find a part that he could do and be creatively engaged."
"Occasionally I would ask for advice. Andy had a keen sense of story," Howard recalls. "I was beginning to do the adaptations of the Dan Brown mysteries ('Da Vinci Code' and 'Angels & Demons'). I had never been involved in a mystery."
"He had done seasons of “Matlock,” which were all mysteries and I knew he was analytical. I remember calling and talking to him for about an hour or so and talking about the devices and the mechanics of the genre. It was helpful."
"Looking back, I barely remember meeting Andy because I was 5. But I remember that first episode. It was a pilot of a spinoff of 'The Danny Thomas Show.'" The city guy was stuck in a speed trap and made to understand and appreciate the charms of Mayberry. And I was playing the sheriff's son, Opie Taylor."
"I think there was an honesty that Andy demonstrated. He could convey the humor, the foibles, the particulars of rural America without demeaning it."
"Andy didn't try to teach acting lessons. My father was — and is — an actor and he was around to help me. I think Andy observed that my father and I had a great relationship. He saw that my dad was a natural acting coach and modeled the Opie-Andy relationship on what he saw between my dad and me. He later said that."
"I learned so much from the show and the environment he created. It was less about the specifics of comedy timing, although he taught me about that, and professional comportment, which he also taught me about. It was really about the joy of the creative process."
"You could have fun on a set. You could be playful. You could tell jokes. You could laugh at other people's jokes and you could still get your work done at the best-caliber TV show."
"He really helped create and sustain a collaborative, open, creative environment. It felt safe to say what you thought. Good new ideas were celebrated by all. I've tried to carry that tone and that atmosphere with me throughout my life."
"There was also a very unpretentious kind of humility there. He was famous for turning to the audience at the end of a show — or even early on — and saying, 'I appreciate it and good night.'"
"A few years back, I realized that he really understood those words and he meant them. He never expected to be given anyone's respect. He wanted to earn it. And he appreciated the opportunity to earn it. He knew he was a country boy who grew up and was making a great living doing exactly what he wanted to do."
"Also, look at his career. Don't forget about 'Face in the Crowd' or his success on Broadway or his recording career and 'Matlock'. He did so much great work in TV and movies. Over seven decades."
"He was a leader on the set. If I wasn't paying attention, he would say, 'Pay attention, Ronnie'. He was an adult and a mentor in that way. More like a great coach."
Griffith, who had requested he be laid to rest soon after his death, was buried at 11:30 AM on his family farm on Roanoke Island.