Ron Howard

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Ron Howard
Ron Howard 2011 Shankbone 3.JPG
Howard in 2011
Born Ronald William Howard
(1954-03-01) March 1, 1954 (age 61)
Duncan, Oklahoma, U.S.
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Actor, director, producer
Years active 1956–present
Spouse(s) Cheryl Alley (m. 1975)
Children 4; including Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard
Parent(s) Jean Speegle Howard
Rance Howard

Ronald William "Ron" Howard (born March 1, 1954) is an American film director, producer, and actor, best known for playing two high-profile roles in television sitcoms in his childhood and early adulthood, and for directing a number of successful feature films later in his career.

He first came to prominence playing young Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later teenager Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days for six years.[1] Meanwhile, he appeared in the musical film The Music Man (1962), the coming of age film American Graffiti (1973), the western The Shootist (1976), and the comedy Grand Theft Auto (1977), which he also directed.

In 1980 he left Happy Days to focus on directing. His films include the science-fiction/fantasy film Cocoon (1985), the historical docudrama Apollo 13 (1995), the biographical drama A Beautiful Mind (2001) (which earned him the Academy Award for Best Director), and the thriller The Da Vinci Code (2006). In 2002, Howard conceived the Fox/Netflix comedy series Arrested Development, on which he would also serve as producer and narrator, and play a semi-fictionalized version of himself.

In 2003, Howard was awarded the National Medal of Arts.[2] Asteroid 12561 Howard is named after him. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013.

Early life[edit]

Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, the son of Jean Speegle Howard, an actress, and Rance Howard, a director, writer, and actor.[3] He has Dutch, Scottish, English, Irish, German, and Cherokee[citation needed] ancestry.[4][5][6][7][8][9] His father was born with the surname "Beckenholdt", and had taken the stage name "Howard" by 1948, for his acting career.[10][11] Rance Howard was serving three years in the United States Air Force at the time of Ron's birth.[12][13] The family moved to Hollywood in 1958, the year before the birth of his younger brother, Clint Howard. They rented a house on the block south of the Desilu Studios, where The Andy Griffith Show would later be filmed. They lived in Hollywood for at least three years, before moving to Burbank.

Howard was tutored at Desilu Studios in his younger years, and graduated from John Burroughs High School. He later attended the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts but did not graduate.[14][15]

Howard has said he knew from a young age he might want to go into directing thanks to his early experience as an actor.[16]


Early acting roles and The Andy Griffith Show[edit]

Andy Griffith and Howard in The Andy Griffith Show, circa 1961

In 1959, Howard had his first credited film role, in The Journey. He appeared in June Allyson's CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson in the episode "Child Lost"; in the The Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance"; a few episodes of the first season of the sitcom Dennis the Menace, as Stewart, one of Dennis's friends; and several first and second season episodes of The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Howard played "Timmy" (uncredited) in "Counterfeit Gun", Season 4, Episode 2 (1960) of the TV series, "The Cheyenne Show."

In 1960, Howard was cast as Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. Credited as "Ronny Howard", he portrayed the son of the title character (played by Andy Griffith) for all eight seasons of the show. He and Griffith remained close until Griffith's death nearly 45 years later.

In the 1962 film version of The Music Man, Howard played Winthrop Paroo, the child with the lisp; the film starred Robert Preston and Shirley Jones. He also starred in the 1963 film The Courtship of Eddie's Father, with Glenn Ford.

He appeared as Barry Stewart on The Eleventh Hour, in the episode "Is Mr. Martian Coming Back?" in 1965; on I Spy, in the episode "Little Boy Lost", in 1966; as Henry Fonda's son in an ABC series, The Smith Family, in 1969 as a boy who's father was shot on the TV show "Daniel Boone", in 1971–72; and as an underage Marine on M*A*S*H in the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", in 1973. In the 1970s, he appeared in at least one episode of The Bold Ones, as a teenage tennis player with an illness.

Howard appeared on the 1969 Disneyland Records album The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion. It featured the story of two teenagers, Mike (Howard) and Karen (Robie Lester), who get trapped inside the Haunted Mansion. Thurl Ravenscroft plays the Narrator, Pete Reneday plays the Ghost Host, and Eleanor Audley plays Madame Leota. Some of the effects and ideas that were planned but never permanently made it to the attraction are mentioned here: the Raven speaks in the Stretching Room, and the Hatbox Ghost is mentioned during the Attic scene. It was reissued in 1998 as a cassette tape titled A Spooky Night in Disney's Haunted Mansion and on CD in 2009.

In 1974 Howard guest starred as Seth Turner, the best friend of Jason Walton (Jon Walmsley), in The Waltons, "The Gift". In the episode, Seth wants to learn to play an instrument in his father's band, but it looks as if he will not have the time; he has been diagnosed with leukemia. The concept of death — and the unfairness of it all — is an extremely difficult one for Jason to accept, and it is up to Grandpa to help the boy through this crisis. Featured in the cast as Dr. McIvers is Ron Howard's father Rance Howard.[17]

Film roles and Happy Days[edit]

Richie (Ron Howard) takes a turn on Fonzie's motorcycle in a scene from Happy Days

Howard played Steve Bolander in George Lucas's coming-of-age film American Graffiti in 1973.[1] A role in an installment of series Love, American Style, titled "Love and the Television Set",[18] led to his being cast as Richie Cunningham in the TV series Happy Days (for syndication, the segment was re-titled "Love and the Happy Days"). Beginning in 1974, he played the likeable "buttoned-down" boy, in contrast to Henry Winkler's "greaser" Arthur "Fonzie"/"The Fonz" Fonzarelli. On the Happy Days set, he developed an on- and off-screen chemistry with series leads Winkler and Tom Bosley. The three remained friends until Bosley's death in October 2010.

In 1976, Howard played Gillom Rogers in the movie The Shootist, with John Wayne. Howard's last significant on-screen role was a reprisal of his famous role as Opie Taylor in the 1986 TV movie Return to Mayberry, an Andy Griffith Show reunion reuniting him with Griffith, Don Knotts, and most of the cast. He also appeared in two Happy Days TV reunions: 1992's The Happy Days Reunion Special, a retrospective hosted by Winkler that aired on ABC; and 2005's The Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion, where he was reunited with most of the surviving cast.


Before leaving Happy Days in 1980, Howard made his directing debut with the 1977 low-budget comedy/action film Grand Theft Auto.[1] This came after cutting a deal with Roger Corman, wherein Corman would let Howard direct a film in exchange for Howard starring in Eat My Dust!, with Christopher Norris.[1] Howard went on to direct several TV movies.[1] His big theatrical break came in 1982, with Night Shift, featuring Michael Keaton, Shelley Long, and Henry Winkler.[1]

He has since directed a number of high-visibility films, including Splash, Cocoon, Willow, Parenthood, Backdraft, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind (for which he won the Academy Award for Best Director), Cinderella Man, The Da Vinci Code, Angels & Demons, and Rush.

Howard showcased the world premiere of his film Frost/Nixon at the 2008 London Film Festival in October 2008.[19]

Howard was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's 2009 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award. Michael Keaton presented him with the Award.

Imagine Entertainment[edit]

Howard in June 2008 during the filming of Angels & Demons in Rome

Howard is the co-chairman, with Brian Grazer, of Imagine Entertainment, a film and television production company. Imagine has produced several films including Friday Night Lights, 8 Mile, and Inside Deep Throat, as well as the television series 24, Felicity, and Arrested Development. Howard also narrated Arrested Development.

In July 2012 it was announced Imagine had put in development Conquest for Showtime. A period drama based on the 16th century conquest of the Aztecs by Spanish Conquistadors. To be directed by Howard, the series was originally planned as a feature film before it being decided that the project was more suited to television.[20]

As part of Imagine Entertainment, he appeared in a 1997 print ad for Milk – Where's your mustache?, in which he wore a cap for Imagine Entertainment and sported a milk mustache. Earlier versions show a younger Ronny Howard on the other side.

In 2009, He appeared in Jamie Foxx music video "Blame It."

Personal life[edit]

Howard married Cheryl Alley on June 7, 1975.[21] They have four children: daughters Bryce Dallas Howard (b. 1981), twins Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige Howard (b. 1985), and son Reed Cross (b. 1987).



  1. ^ a b c d e f Stated on Inside the Actors Studio, 1999
  2. ^ Lifetime Honors – National Medal of Arts
  3. ^ "Ron Howard Biography (1954–)". Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon...and Beyond". 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "Ron Howard". 
  8. ^ "Clint Howard". 
  9. ^ "Pals Of The Saddle- Ron Howard [Archive] – JWMB – The Original John Wayne Message Board!". 
  10. ^ "Actress keeps name of her famous family". The Vindicator. Scripps Howard. August 3, 2004. p. B7. Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  11. ^ Gray, Beverly (2003). Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon—and Beyond. Thomas Nelson. p. 6. ISBN 1-55853-970-0. 
  12. ^ Gray, pp. 7–8.
  13. ^ Estrin, Eric (Feb 22, 2010). "Ron Howard's 'Breakthrough'?: Ronald Reagan". The Wrap. Retrieved May 6, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Notable Alumni". Retrieved September 18, 2012. 
  15. ^ Devine, Mary (1998). International Dictionary of University Histories. Taylor & Francis. p. 621. ISBN 1-884964-23-0. 
  16. ^ "Ron Howard: On Filmmaking". Bafta Guru. 2 July 2013. Retrieved 18 August 2015. 
  17. ^ MSN Entertainment The Waltons: The Gift
  18. ^ fmsteinberg (21 September 2009). ""Love, American Style" Love and the Happy Days/Love and the Newscasters (TV Episode 1972)". IMDb. 
  19. ^ "London Film Festival". September 24, 2008. Retrieved March 5, 2010. 
  20. ^ Nellie Andreeva. "Showtime & Imagine Team For Aztec Drama Directed By Ron Howard & Penned By Jose Rivera". Deadline. 
  21. ^ Gray, p. 58

External links[edit]