Due to a last-minute work conflict, the actor Clint Howard will not appear today as scheduled at Mayberry Days.
Howard is on location making a movie starring Charlie Sheen. The shoot ran long, interrupting his Mayberry Day plans.
“I didn’t know until last Thursday,” he said in a phone interview. “I was holding out to see if possibly I could have Friday off,” but no such luck for Mayberry Days fans.
“My dad reminded me several years ago that I’m a professional actor, not a professional celebrity, so real acting work comes first,” Howard explained.
“I really feel bad and will make every effort in the world to come back next year.”
Howard portrayed Leon in five episodes of “The Andy Griffith Show,” between 1962 to 1964, always dressed in a cowboy outfit and eating a peanut butter sandwich, touches that made the character that much more memorable.
With older brother Ron Howard starring as Opie in the show, Clint Howard’s connection to the program extended well beyond his five appearances.
Folks were excited about Clint Howard’s first appearance at Mayberry Days last year, and the feeling was apparently mutual.
“Mayberry Days is special and ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ is special,” Howard said. “They don’t do these things for the ‘Beverly Hillbillies.’”
He had been scheduled to discuss his life with the Howard family during the show’s run with Professor Neal Brower’s Lecture at 2 p.m. at The Earle Theatre.
Brower, who has been in contact with Howard as they prepared, will share Howard’s observations today.
“He has been working extensively with Clint on this piece,” said Tanya Jones, Surry Arts Council executive director.
“Clint is a huge fan of Mayberry Days,” Jones continued. “He communicated with us about coming back, he had his plane ticket and kept it,” even as it increasingly seemed as if he could not get away from the set.
Jones said Howard gave her continual updates on whether he’d be able to attend.
“He was emailing me constantly on location,” she said.
“He wanted to come and would be here if he could,” said Jones, noting that Howard has been genuinely supportive of the annual event.
“He and Ron (Howard) did a video clip singing Happy Birthday to Betty Lynn. Clint wore his Mayberry Days t-shirt in the video. It broke the record for anything the Surry Arts Council ever posted,” she said. “We were so touched by it.”
Howard’s film and television career has spanned more than 53 years and is still going strong.
His extensive list of credits include “Arrested Development,” “My Name is Earl,” “Frost/Nixon,” “Austin Powers,” “Star Treck” and “Star Trek: Enterprise” “Austin Powers,” “The Virginian” and “The Odd Couple.”
His biggest role was as the boy with the pet bear in “Gentle Ben,” a TV series than ran for two years (1967-68 and 1968-69).
Of his current gig, “I’m getting to play a real crazy character,” Howard said. “This has turned out to be a fun little job.”
Jones had nothing but positive remarks for the actor.
“We’re really happy for him that he got this opportunity,” she said.
“This is Mayberry Days. We go on with stuff.”
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.