The comedy legend died on Tuesday (03Jul12) in his native North Carolina at the age of 86, and Howard was among the first few stars to lead the tributes to Griffith, who portrayed his onscreen dad on The Andy Griffith Show in the 1960s.
Now the Apollo 13 director has shared his most treasured memories about Griffith in a piece for the Los Angeles Times, revealing the small screen veteran was always there to show the former child star the tricks of the trade.
He writes, “Andy Griffith entertained us for decades on stage, via our radios, sound systems, TVs and up there on the silver screen. Comedy, drama or music, he brought his love of performing to each creative undertaking.
“He was known for ending shows by looking at the audience and saying, ‘I appreciate it, and good night.’ Perhaps the greatest enduring lesson I learned from eight seasons playing Andy’s son Opie on the show was that he truly understood the meaning of those words, and he meant them, and there was value in that…
“He taught me a great deal through the examples he set and the approach to our work on the set. I learned about comedic timing… and the equal values of both focused rehearsal and, at particular moments, of total chaotic spontaneity.”
Howard is grateful to have worked so closely with Griffith for so long and reveals he always admired the veteran’s ability to balance work and play.
The filmmaker continues, “He led by example and we demonstrated that a cast and company could play practical jokes on one another, laugh ’til they cried and still get 12 pages of the script shot every day while producing a No. 1-rated show.
“And, as I look back today, knowing that Andy’s vision yielded a show that still airs daily all over the country and holds an absolutely unique place in the annals of its medium, I’m reminded of another lesson taught by example. Do all that, and don’t forget to have as many laughs as you can along the way.”