What ever happened to the kids from The Andy Griffith Show?
Catch up with Johnny Paul Jason, Arnold Bailey and more from Mayberry.
Ron Howard is arguably the most successful child star of all time. Following The Andy Griffith Show, he went on to another iconic television role as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, and then, of course, became one of Hollywood's most reliable directors of blockbusters.
We're guessing you already knew what happened to Opie.
But what about Opie's friends, girlfriends, schoolmates and bullies? The Andy Griffith Show featured many memorable young actors. Some, like Ronda Jeter, who portrayed a few of Opie's crushes, were hard to find. In fact, she had no other acting credits outside of Mayberry. But we were able to catch up the following Mayberry kids.
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1. Sheldon Collins, Opie's good pal Arnold
In "Opie's First Love," Opie is crushing hard on Mary Alice Carter. He can barely muster the courage to ask her to Arnold Bailey's 13th birthday part. "Even when I ask her for an eraser, my mouth gets all dry," Opie confesses to his friend. "So what's the difference?" Arnold says. "So you'll have a dry mouth when you ask her." Turns out, Sheldon Collins, real name Dr. Sheldon Golomb, would know a lot about dry mouth. Years after playing Opie's best friend in dozen episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, Golomb became a dentist. He even hung a signed photo from Andy Griffith in his office.
2. Morgan Brittany, "Opie's First Love"
So what about Mary Alice Carter? Well, Morgan Brittany went on to one many recurring role on television, playing Katherine Wentworth in 50-plus episodes of Dallas. More recently, Brittany has become a conservative voice for right-wing women as one of the "PolitiChicks."
Image: The Everett Collection
3. Ronnie Dapo, "The Spoiled Kid"
You might remember Dapo best as Arnold Winkler, the titular kid in the episode "Opie and the Spoiled Kid." He threw a tantrum in the police station when Andy refused to release his $75 bicycle from the impound. In 2016, The Mount Airy News caught up with the retired 64-year-old actor, who reflected on his career and time in Mayberry. After he delivered his famous fit on the set, "The whole place stood up and applauded me," he recalled. "Parts like that were great." He left showbiz at the age of 14 and would go on to work in music, steel and printing.
Image: Terri Flagg / Mt. Airy News
4. Scott McCartor, the bully
McCartor played the bully Steve Quincy in "One Punch Opie." You know, the immortal episode with "Nip it!" This bad influence tried to convince other Mayberry boys to go steal apples. Scandalous! Opie got into a scrap with the more mature brat. McCartor made his final acting appearance in the low-budget 1976 horror film Rattlers. His character, Rick, climbs into a hayloft, where he is bitten on the face by a killer snake. He falls to the barn floor and catches fire.
5. Kay Lenz, fan of Opie's group
"To think that I know a real rock 'n' roll musician!" Kay Lenz's character gushes to Opie on "Opie's Group." The young Taylor is playing guitar in a beat combo called the Sound Committee. Funny enough, Lenz would go on to indeed know a real rock 'n' roll musician — she married David Cassidy in 1977. Lenz went on to acting acclaim in her own right, starring as the lead character in the Clint Eastwood directed Breezy and earning an Emmy nomination for her work in the miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. Here she is a bit later, in the Eighties horror-comedy House.
Image: The Everett Collection
6. Flip Mark, head of the Wildcats
Born Phillip Goldberg, "Flip Mark" made his last acting gig on Streets of San Francisco. You might remember him as the leader of the Wildcats, the secret boys' club that Opie joins in "The Keeper of the Flame." Goldberg also had regular roles on Lassie and Guestward Ho! After leaving the acting profession, Goldberg worked in the travel industry and eventually became a 9-1-1 operator, according to an interview with jewishaz.com. "I’ve been fortunate," he reflected. "I’ve got three very defined stages of my life, each of them with some excitement and some very good memories."
7. Buddy Foster, Mike Jones
In "Opie and Mike," Opie plays mentor to young Mike Jones, played by Buddy Foster. The little brother of Jodie Foster would go on to star in the spin-off, Mayberry R.F.D. In 1997, Foster penned a biography of his famous older sister, titled Foster Child. Jodie Foster was no fan, calling the book "hazy recollections." She added in a statement at the time, "I feel sad for him. Mostly, I feel sad for my 69-year-old mother, who has spent her life struggling to raise four children on her own."
Image: Dutton Books via abebooks
8. Kellie Flanagan, Claudia Campbell
In that episode "Opie and Mike," Opie is hanging around with a girl named Heather Campbell. Little Mike meets Heather's little sister, Claudia, played by Kellie Flanagan. She would go on to land a lead role in the sitcom The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, playing Candice Muir in all 50 episodes. In 2014, Flanagan talked with Madman Entertainment about her role on the show. She told the site she has been busy as a writer and mother, as well as "gardening [and] raising chickens."
9. Richard Keith, Johnny Paul Jason
By the time he landed the recurring role of Johnny Paul Jason on TAGS, young Richard Keith, a.k.a. Keith Thibodeaux, was an old pro at the whole child star thing. He had played Little Ricky on I Love Lucy and The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour. "The Andy Griffith Show was a wonderful experience. The set was more laid back, more country…they (the actors) were basically like they were on the show," Thibodeaux recently recalled. He later played drums in a band called David and the Giants, who were signed to Capitol Records for a time. Their tune "Superlove" was a minor regional hit in the South. Later, Thibodeaux was born again and the group transitioned into Christian rock.
Image: Capitol Records
10. Clint Howard, Leon
Ron's young brother went on to dozens of acting roles as a distinctive character actor. Last year, he could be spotted in both the Star Trek (Discovery) and Star Wars (Solo) universes. Of course, who could forget him as Balok on the original Star Trek? And to think, it all began with eating sandwiches on the streets of Mayberry.
Image: The Everett Collection
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Image: AP Photo/Charles Sykes
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