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One of the most successful single parent shows in the history of television has got to be the Andy Griffth Show. In that show, single parent Sheriff Andy Taylor attempts to raise his son Opie with the help of his Aunt Bee.
While the show is filled with great lessons about family, life, and love the issue of Opie’s missing Mom, also Andy’s wife, is seldom addressed. Many of us who are fans of the show have often wondered what happened to her?
Well here are the only clues we have about the existence of Opie’s Mom. We know she gave birth to Opie. However, she must have left the family shortly after that happened. That’s because in an episode of The Danny Thomas Show where Opie loses his pet turtle because it was stepped on Andy reveals that he lost Opie’s mom when he was “the least little speck of a baby”.
Opie’s Mom was also mentioned in a later episode of the Andy Griffith Show entitled Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee. In that episode, Andy is explaining to Opie about love and he tells the boy that he and his mother had a special kind of love.
So, about all we can do in the case of Opie’s Mom is make assumptions.
We have to assume she died because what woman would leave a man as good as Sheriff Taylor? We might assume she died at childbirth because Opie seems to have no memory of his mother.
The scriptwriters never revealed her name either nor did we ever visit a grave, which would actually play into the small town Mayberry plot but alas we are still left with more questions than answers.
50 years and counting from the end of The Andy Griffith Show, the program is still a treasured classic. With a large following and a timeless story, it only makes sense.
Besides being a smash-hit, the program is thought to be one of the most influential shows in history. Watching Andy Taylor and his adventures around Mayberry is something that just hasn’t gotten stale. Further, one can see the program’s influence in television today.
A key relationship in the legendary show is obviously between Andy Taylor and his son, Opie. Like Taylor, Opie has his own adventures and developments. Unlike his father, Opie is typically causing trouble by just being the eager child he is.
The two, played by Andy Griffith and Ron Howard respectively, develop an iconic father-son relationship over the show’s eight seasons. However, there has always been a notable missing link in the show: the fate of Opie’s mother.
It’s a very rarely mentioned aspect of the characters, with the program bringing it up hardly ever except for memorable moments like in the episode, “Wedding Bells for Aunt Bee.”
The Andy Griffith Show Talks About Opie’s Mother
During the episode, Andy Taylor calls back upon his memories of Opie’s mother. As Aunt Bee prepares for her own wedding, Andy explains to Opie that he loved his mother very much.
It’s a very short moment, with the two moving on. In fact, the episode carries onward with no further details. However, one clue exists in the show’s predecessor.
The Danny Thomas Show had a “back-door” pilot of sorts in an episode titled “Danny Thomas Meets Andy Griffith.”
The episode premiered about half a year before the spinoff hit the scene.
In the program, Taylor says that Opie’s mother died when he was very, very young. However, like in The Andy Griffith Show, it’s a brief discussion that never goes further.
‘The Andy Griffith Show’: The 1 and Only Time Opies Mother Is Mentioned on the Show
If you watch The Andy Griffith Show, you’re familiar with the show’s characters of Andy Taylor, who is the town sheriff and his son, little Opie Taylor.
Hardly any mention is made of the boy’s deceased mother and no photos are seen throughout their home of her. However, she was brought up in one point in conversation.
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Andy raised Opie but Ron Howard’s father showed him how
In a conversation with the Archive of American Television, Ron Howard opened up about about how the character of Opie was originally written to mind his manners a lot less than the young boy viewers came to know and love.
“Early on, they wrote Opie a little differently,” Howard explained. “More like the typical sitcom kids who were always kind of the wise-ass comebacks. Later I heard that my dad actually was talking to Andy about it.”
The renowned filmmaker revealed that his father, Rance Howard, who was by Ron’s side during filming on the Griffith Show set, approached the show’s star about the way Opie engaged with his fictional father.
“My dad apparently said [to Andy Griffith], ‘What would happen if Opie knew that Andy was smarter than him? How about if Opie actually respected his dad? As opposed to sitcom kids who are always kind of making the dad look bad.’ Andy really took to that and that’s how they began to write that,” Ron said.
‘The Danny Thomas Show’ helped launch Andy Griffith’s show
Andy Griffith’s show was given a pilot episode on The Danny Thomas Show, starring singer, actor, and producer Danny Thomas. Thomas’ show ran from 1953 to 1964 but was soon eclipsed by The Andy Griffith Show‘s success.
It was on this pilot episode that viewers met not only Andy Griffith, but little Ronny Howard as well, playing Opie Taylor.
Griffith told author Richard Kelly in the latter’s 1981 book, The Andy Griffith Show, about the jitters he experienced working with Danny Thomas.
“I came out [to Los Angeles], did the pilot – and I remember a lot of that, too, because Danny Thomas made me very nervous,” Griffith recalled. “So when we started the show a lot of people were talking and wondering why they had me out here. Because I was wooden, very wooden. And as the show progressed I got looser and looser and when they brought the audience in, I was on top of it. And the show, in fact, did sell.”
Opie’s mother is apparently never to be named
In the show’s pilot episode on The Danny Thomas Show, we learn all we are ever going to learn about Opie’s mom: that she once was and that she is no more.
In a scene ten minutes into the episode, Opie runs into his father’s place of business, the Mayberry jail, to tell his father that a town resident, Mrs. Balford, has accidentally stepped on his pet turtle Wilford and that he wants his father to arrest her.
Andy in turn tells his son, “She didn’t mean it. I s’pect it was just Wilford’s turn to go. And we have to learn to live with our sorrows, boy. I learned that when you were just a little speck of a baby, when I lost your ma, just like you lost Wilford here.”
Since the show is a comedy, Opie doesn’t get too choked up. He replies to his father, “You did? Who stepped on Ma?”