“The Andy Griffith Show” and “The Waltons” share more than one might initially think. For one, they’re both rural, family-based shows that became iconic. Granted, one is a true comedy, and the other is a compelling Depression-era drama. But both are representative of their respective decades. And they even had a few actors in common, as well.
Grandma Walton actress Ellen Corby appeared in an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” before “The Waltons” was even close to hitting screens. She had the opportunity to play a pretty interesting character, to boot.
In a 1963 episode titled “Barney’s First Car” from the third season of “The Andy Griffith Show,” Ellen Corby plays the role of Myrt “Hubcaps” Lesh. Why “Hubcaps”? You may be asking. Simple. Corby’s character is a hustler dealing in stolen and broken-down cars.
As the title of the episode suggests, Barney Fife is in the market for a new vehicle. He responds to an advertisement regarding a used car. Then, an old widow who claims to have no use for her car anymore shows up. Barney is taken with the woman and wants to buy the car on the spot. What he doesn’t know is that she’s a con woman who’s selling him a hunk of junk.
Barney quickly discovers that the vehicle isn’t all Ellen Corby’s character cracked it up to be. Then, he and Andy get to the bottom of things. They track Hubcaps back to her garage and catch her red-handed.
It’s a fun change of pace seeing her as a villainous type of character. It flies in the face of the famous character she would eventually play. Corby’s role on “The Andy Griffith Show” came nearly a decade before she played her iconic role of Grandma Walton on “The Waltons.”
When Opie from ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Played a Character on ‘The Waltons’
Just as Ellen Corby played a one-off role on “The Andy Griffith Show,” so too did a star from the famous comedy play a small part on “The Waltons.”
This time, however, it came in the form of youthful actor Ron Howard. Fans of “The Andy Griffith Show” know him as Sheriff Andy Taylor’s son, Opie. But in 1974, he played the teenaged friend of Jason and John-Boy’s in an episode of “The Waltons” called “The Gift.”
Judy Norton, who played Mary Ellen Walton on the classic show, recently talked about how cool it was to have Ron Howard on the set.
“I had watched him since the early beginnings of his career on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ and various different other shows. [I] loved him in ‘The Music Man.’ He was just such a talent, right from the beginning of his career,” Norton said in a YouTube video.