March 1, 2021

Ron Howard on How His ‘M*A*S*H’ Role Was Like ‘The Andy Griffith Show’


Ron Howard became famous for his role on The Andy Griffith Show, however, he also  had guest roles on a number of other classic TV shows. For example, he appeared in an episode of the seminal comedy-drama M*A*S*H. Here’s how he compared the experience of working on The Andy Griffith Show to working on M*A*S*H.

Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier at a table
Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, and Frances Bavier | CBS via Getty Images

How Ron Howard felt when he appeared on an episode of ‘M*A*S*H’

Firstly, a little background. Howard appeared in a 1973 episode of M*A*S*H called “Sometimes You Hear a Bullet.” The episode premiered five years after the ending of The Andy Griffith Show and before the premiere of Happy Days. The episode centers on Howard playing a soldier named Wendell who lies about his age to enter the army. Only Hawkeye sees through his rouse.

So how did acting on The Andy Griffith Show compare to acting on M*A*S*H? According to MeTV, Howard said “The M*A*S*H episode was really fun because I was treated as a TV vet on the show, and I was going to college at that time and it fit into my Easter break.” He added “It also was kind of comfortable, because that was a one-camera show, so it reminded me a little bit of the way The Andy Griffith Show was done.”

The Andy Griffith theme

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How Ron Howard felt the show would perform

Howard had a prediction for M*A*S*H. “It did have some drama in addition to the comedy, so I kind of felt like it would be successful,” Howard said. Howard was correct. M*A*S*H was on television for much of the Vietnam War, so it may have resonated because it was set during the Korean War, another American war centered around communism in East Asia.

Was ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ more or less successful than ‘M*A*SH’?

M*A*S*H was indeed successful. This raises an interesting question: Was it more or less successful than The Andy Griffith Show? The Andy Griffith Show lasted eight seasons. In addition, its spin-offs, Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. and Mayberry R.F.D. lasted for five seasons and three seasons, respectively. That’s a total of sixteen seasons of television across the entire franchise.

M*A*S*H cast wearing jeans
M*A*S*H cast | Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images

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On the other hand, M*A*S*H ran for 11 seasons. Famously the show lasted longer than the Korean War, the war which served as the show’s setting. In addition, the show’s spin-offs, Trapper John, M.D., AfterMASH, and W*A*L*T*E*R, lasted for sevens seasons, two seasons, and one season respectively. Altogether, that’s a staggering 21 seasons of television. 

Before the M*A*S*H franchise made it to television, there was a M*A*S*H theatrical film. Box Office Mojo reports the movie earned $81.6 million against a budget of $3.6 million. In addition, the film garnered Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Director. While The Andy Griffith Show spawned a successful franchise, it never made it to the big screen — and Gomer Pyle and company never got anywhere near the Oscars. While the public embraced The Andy Griffith Show, it embraced M*A*S*H more.



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