Andy Griffith's TV kids dated each other on Happy Days
Happy Days brought together Opie from The Andy Griffith Show and Charlene from Matlock.
In Happy Days’ second season, Linda Purl played Richie Cunningham’s girlfriend Gloria across four episodes.
Playing Richie Cunningham was Ron Howard, who TV fans previously had watched grow up on The Andy Griffith Show as Opie Taylor, son of Andy Taylor.
While playing Opie, Howard very much looked up to Andy Griffith as a father figure, telling The Associated Press in 2012 that:
"Andy’s impact on my life and my approach to my work really can’t be measured. The balance that he sustained between focused, creative effort and this overt, playful enjoyment that he got out of working hard with people that he liked, doing a show he loved, was something that I hope I’ll always remember and emulate."
Purl would return to Happy Days eventually to play Fonzie’s great love Ashley Pfister, and after that, she too would get a chance to perform with Andy Griffith playing her father, this time on his hit series Matlock.
Purl was brought into Matlock after the series pilot film performed well, stepping into the role of Ben Matlock’s daughter Charlene Matlock specifically due to her "star power" from Happy Days.
"I did each series for a year, and I enjoyed them both," Purl told Gannett News Service in 1987.
But unlike Howard, who found working with Griffith to be one of the great joys of his lifetime, Purl was under-stimulated when working with writers and producers on Matlock.
She told the Kilgore News Herald in 1987 that she decided to quit the show because: "There wasn’t any unpleasantness, and neither money nor 'creative differences' had anything to do with it. It was simply that my role as Matlock’s daughter changed in almost every way after the pilot that attracted me to the series, and I wasn’t happy with that. The audience seemed to want to see more of Matlock in court and solving mysteries, and less of him as a family man, and that left me with less to do. I asked to be released, and the producers agreed, with no hard feelings."
Although Purl didn’t enjoy her time as Andy’s daughter as much as Howard liked playing Andy’s son, she soon found more gratifying work in gritty TV movies that required more from her than being "blonde and cute."
One thing that both Griffith’s TV kids got from him was a profound sense of appreciation for all the opportunities they were given.
Purl said she never tired of doing Matlock and considered it a "nice, comfortable job."
As for Howard’s time on The Andy Griffith Show, he borrowed the three words Andy Griffith used to say at the end of his shows when summing up how much his time spent acting with Andy had meant to him: "I appreciate it."