Elinor Donahue admits that Ron Howard was the best child actor she ever worked with
Little Ron Howard made a big impact on her during that first season of The Andy Griffith Show.
Elinor Donahue has had such a storied career, you can only be impressed when she makes special mention of particular actors that she’s worked with who moved her. It’s well known that Donahue left The Andy Griffith Show after a mere 11 episodes, but there was one actor that she particularly loved working with.
In an interview with the American Archive of Television, Donahue revealed that little Ron Howard was "the best child actor I have ever worked with up to that point." Considering she herself was a sitcom kid, having played eldest child Betty Anderson on Father Knows Best, that was no faint praise.
Donahue admitted that she's had the pleasure of working with plenty of child actors over the course of her career, and reassured the interviewer that many of them were lovely. However, when it came to young Howard, there was something special about him.
The credit, she claims, goes directly to his parents.
"They were wonderful parents," she said. "They kept Ronnie a little boy, and that’s hard to do. He was just a great child." Donahue recalled seeing Howard’s folks around the set often, especially his father, Rance Howard.
A successful character actor himself, Rance was often seen on set with his son, helping him get into character and prepare for scenes. "Rance would come to the set with Ron and taught him his lines."
Donahue said, "He just had something. He was not acting – he was right there, you were those people. It was thrilling! Always knew his lines — knew your lines as well."
In the entertainment field, coworkers may come and go, but there’s something to be said about having such a positive experience with someone so young. How would Donahue sum up her experience with little Ronnie Howard?
"And a nice little boy, not the least bit bratty or know-ot-all-or anything. Just adorable! I loved him!"