Andy Griffith Show writerAaron Ruben

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Ruben started as a writer for radio shows for such personalities as Dinah Shore, Burns and Allen, Fred Allen, Henry Morgan, and Milton Berle. He directed shows such as The Phil Silvers Show. And, in 1960, he turned to producing, as head writer for The Andy Griffith Show, a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show. Griffith credits Ruben for “setting the tone and style” of the show, which was an instant hit; it was in the Top 10 during its entire 8-year run, and still can be seen in reruns today. “My theory is that the Griffith show is like the grown-ups’ Oz,” he once said. “It’s the land of, ‘Oh, wouldn’t it be wonderful to live in a town with no drugs, no crime, no gangs, no violence. People greet each other. People are kind to each other.’ That’s why grown-ups love that show.” He left the show after five years to launch a new spinoff series, Gomer Pyle, USMC, featuring a Mayberry mechanic who joins the Marines. He later went on to produce other sitcoms, including Sanford and Son and CPO Sharkey. Ruben also had a major effect on another career: he gave “Ronny” Howard (Opie in the Griffith show) a movie camera for his 8th birthday, which “turned out to be really significant because I actually did get into it and started making little movies almost right away,” Howard said. Howard went on to become a top movie director. As for Ruben, the Griffith show “was five of the best years of my life in the business.” He died January 30 from pneumonia at age 95.

From This is True for 7 February 2010