Ronald William Howard (born March 1, 1954) is an American actor and filmmaker. Howard is best known for playing two high-profile roles in television sitcoms in his youth and directing a number of successful feature films later in his career.
Howard first came to prominence playing young Opie Taylor, the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor (played by Andy Griffith) in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 through 1968. During this time he also appeared in the musical film The Music Man (1962), and the comedy film The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). In 1974, he played Steve Bolander in the classic coming of age film American Graffiti (1973). In 1974 Howard became a household name playing teenager Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days, continuing for seven years. Howard continued making films during this time, appearing in the western film The Shootist (1976), and the comedy film Grand Theft Auto (1977), which he also directed.
In 1980, Howard left Happy Days to focus on directing. His films include: the science-fiction/fantasy film Cocoon (1985), the historical docudrama Apollo 13 (1995) (earning him the Directors Guild of America award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures), the biographical drama A Beautiful Mind (2001) (earning him the Academy Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture), the thriller The Da Vinci Code (2006), the historical drama Frost/Nixon (2008) (nominated for Best Director and Best Picture Academy Awards) and Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).
In 2003, Howard was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Asteroid 12561 Howard is named after him. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013. Howard has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions in the television and motion pictures industries.
Howard in 2011
Ronald William Howard|
March 1, 1954
Duncan, Oklahoma, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Southern California|
|Spouse(s)||Cheryl Alley (m. 1975)|
|Children||4; including Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard|
Rance Howard |
Jean Speegle Howard
|Relatives||Clint Howard (brother)|
Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1954, the elder son of Jean Speegle Howard (1927-2000), an actress, and Rance Howard (1928-2017), a director, writer, and actor. He has German, English, Scottish, Irish, and Dutch ancestry. His father was born with the surname "Beckenholdt", and had taken the stage name "Howard" by 1948, for his acting career. Rance Howard was serving three years in the United States Air Force at the time of Ron's birth. 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 was later 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.
Howard has said he knew from a young age he might want to go into directing thanks to his early experience as an actor.
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 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. Recalling his experiences as a child actor on set, he commented
I was five years old. And I was preoccupied with the prop that was in my hand, because it was a toy turtle. But I had to pretend it was a real turtle that the audience just wasn't seeing, and it was dead, so I was supposed to be crying and very emotional, and I remember him looking at that little turtle and talking to me about how it was kind of funny to have to pretend that was dead. So I recall just a very relaxed first impression.
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 1968 as Jodah, in "Land of the Giants", in 1969 as a boy whose 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.
Howard played Steve Bolander in George Lucas's coming-of-age film American Graffiti in 1973. A role in an installment of series Love, American Style, titled "Love and the Television Set", 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 reprise 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. This came after cutting a deal with Roger Corman, wherein Corman let Howard direct a film in exchange for Howard starring in Eat My Dust!, with Christopher Norris. Howard went on to direct several TV movies. His big theatrical break came in 1982, with Night Shift, featuring Michael Keaton, Shelley Long, and Henry Winkler.
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, Rush, In the Heart of the Sea and Inferno.
Howard was the recipient of the Austin Film Festival's 2009 Extraordinary Contribution to Filmmaking Award. Michael Keaton presented him with the Award.
Howard took over directing duties on Solo: A Star Wars Story, a film featuring Star Wars character Han Solo in his younger years. The film was released on May 23, 2018. Howard officially replaced directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller on June 22, 2017; they were let go from their position two days earlier, reportedly due to their refusal to compromise with Lucasfilm over the direction of the film, trying to make it more of a comedy. At the time, the film was nearly completed, with three and a half weeks left to film and another five weeks of reshoots scheduled. Howard posted on Twitter, "I'm beyond grateful to add my voice to the Star Wars Universe after being a fan since 5/25/77. I hope to honor the great work already done & help deliver on the promise of a Han Solo film."
In November 2017, Howard announced that he would be teaching his first directing class.
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 which Howard also narrated.
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.
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.
Howard married writer Cheryl Alley (b. 1953) on June 7, 1975. They have four children: daughters Bryce Dallas Howard (b. 1981) (who has earned her own acting status in films), twins Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige Howard (b. 1985) (like her father and older sister Bryce, Paige is also an actress), and son Reed Cross (b. 1987).
|1956||Frontier Woman||Yes||No||No||No||Bit Part||Uncredited|
|1959||The Journey||Yes||No||No||No||Billy Rhinelander|
|1961||Five Minutes to Live||Yes||No||No||No||Bobby||Credited as Ronnie Howard|
|1962||The Music Man||Yes||No||No||No||Winthrop Paroo|
|1963||The Courtship of Eddie's Father||Yes||No||No||No||Eddie|
|1965||Village of the Giants||Yes||No||No||No||Genius|
|1969||Old Paint||No||Yes||No||No||Short films; credited as Ronny Howard|
|Deed of Derring-Do||No||Yes||No||No|
|Cards, Cads, Guns, Gore and Death||No||Yes||No||No|
|1970||The Wild Country||Yes||No||No||No||Virgil Tanner|
|1973||American Graffiti||Yes||No||No||No||Steve Bolander|
|Happy Mother's Day, Love George||Yes||No||No||No||Johnny|
|1974||The Spikes Gang||Yes||No||No||No||Les Richter|
|1976||The First Nudie Musical||Yes||No||No||No||Auditioning actor||Uncredited|
|Eat My Dust!||Yes||No||No||No||Hoover Niebold|
|The Shootist||Yes||No||No||No||Gillom Rogers|
|1977||Grand Theft Auto||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||Sam Freeman|
|1978||Cotton Candy||No||Yes||Yes||No||Co-writer with Clint Howard|
|1979||More American Graffiti||Yes||No||No||No||Steve Bolander|
|1980||Leo and Loree||No||No||No||Executive|
|1982||Night Shift||Yes||Yes||No||No||Annoying Sax Player / Boy Making out with Girlfriend||Uncredited cameos|
|1987||No Man's Land||No||No||No||Executive|
|Clean and Sober||No||No||No||Yes|
|1992||Far and Away||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|The Magical World of Chuck Jones||Yes||Yes||No||No||Himself||Documentary|
|1997||Inventing the Abbotts||No||No||No||Yes|
|Welcome to Hollywood||Yes||No||No||No||Himself|
|Beyond the Mat||No||No||No||Yes||Documentary|
|How the Grinch Stole Christmas||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Whoville Townsperson||Uncredited|
|2001||Osmosis Jones||Yes||No||No||No||Tom Colonic||Voice role|
|A Beautiful Mind||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Man at Governor's Ball||Uncredited|
|Tell Them Who You Are||Yes||No||No||No||Himself||Documentary|
|2005||Inside Deep Throat||No||No||No||Yes||Uncredited; Documentary|
|The Da Vinci Code||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2007||In the Shadow of the Moon||Yes||No||No||No||Himself||Documentary|
|2009||Angels & Demons||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2010||Curious George 2: Follow That Monkey!||No||No||No||Executive|
|The Death and Return of Superman||Yes||No||No||No||Max's Son||Short|
|Cowboys & Aliens||No||No||No||Yes|
|When You Find Me||No||No||No||Yes||Short film|
|2012||Katy Perry: Part of Me||No||No||No||Yes||Documentary|
|2013||From Up on Poppy Hill||Yes||No||No||No||Philosophy Club's president||Voice role|
|Made in America||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2014||The Good Lie||No||No||No||Yes|
|2015||Curious George 3: Back to the Jungle||No||No||No||Executive|
|In the Heart of the Sea||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|2016||Donald Trump's The Art of the Deal: The Movie||Yes||No||No||No||Himself|
|The Beatles: Eight Days a Week||No||Yes||No||Yes||Documentary|
|2017||The Dark Tower||No||No||No||Yes|
|2018||Solo: A Star Wars Story||No||Yes||No||No||Replaced directors|
Phil Lord and Christopher Miller
|TBA||The Perfect Wife||No||Yes||No||Yes|
|1959||Johnny Ringo||Ricky Parrot||Episode: "The Accused"|
|Five Fingers||Episode: "Station Break"|
|The Twilight Zone||Wilcox Boy||Episode: "Walking Distance"|
|The DuPont Show with June Allyson||Wim Wegless||Episode: "Child Lost"|
|Dennis the Menace||Stewart||6 episodes|
|The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis||Dan Adams/Georgie/Little Boy with Ray Gun||4 episodes|
|General Electric Theater||Barnaby Baxter/Randy||2 episodes:|
|Hennesey with Jackie Cooper||Walker||Episode: "The Baby Sitter"|
|1960||The Danny Thomas Show||Opie Taylor||Episode: "Danny Meets Andy Griffith"|
|Cheyenne||Timmy||Episode: "Counterfeit Gun"; uncredited|
|Pete and Gladys||Tommy||Episode: "The Goat Story"|
|1960–1968||The Andy Griffith Show||Opie Taylor||209 episodes|
|1962||Route 66||Chet Duncan||Episode: "Poor Little Kangaroo Rat"|
|The New Breed||Tommy Simms||Episode: "So Dark the Night"|
|1963||The Eleventh Hour||Barry Stewart||Episode: "Is Mr. Martian Coming Back?"|
|1964||The Great Adventure||Daniel Waterhouse||Episode: "Plague"|
|Dr. Kildare||Jerry Prentice||Episode: "A Candle in the Window"|
|The Fugitive||Gus||Episode: "Cry Uncle"|
|1965||The Big Valley||Tommy||Episode: "Night of the Wolf"|
|1966||Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.||Opie Taylor||Episode: "Opie Joins the Marines"|
|I Spy||Alan Loden||Episode: "Little Boy Lost"|
|1967||The Monroes||Timothy Prescott||Episode: "Teaching the Tiger to Purr"|
|Gentle Ben||Jody Cutler||Episode: "Green-Eyed Bear"|
|1968||Mayberry R.F.D.||Opie Taylor||Episode: "Andy and Helen Get Married"|
|The Archie Show||Archie Andrews||Early Pilot Cartoon|
|Lancer||Turk Caudle/Willy||2 episodes|
|1969||Judd for the Defense||Phil Beeton||Episode: "Between the Dark and the Daylight"|
|1969||Daniel Boone||Luke||Episode: "A Man Before His Time"|
|1969||Gunsmoke||Jamie||Episode: "Charlie Noon"|
|1969||Land of the Giants||Jodar||Episode: "Genius At Work"|
|1970||The Headmaster||Tony Landis||Episode: "Will the Real Mother of Tony Landis Please Stand Up?"|
|1970||Lassie||Gary||Episode: "Gary Here Comes Glory!" Part 1 & 2|
|1971-1972||The Smith Family||Bob Smith||39 episodes|
|1972||Love, American Style||Richard 'Richie' Cunningham||Episode: "Love and the Happy Days"|
|1972||The Bold Ones: The New Doctors||Cory Merlino||Episode: "Discovery at Fourteen"|
|1972||Bonanza||Ted Hoag||Episode: "The Initiation"|
|1973||M*A*S*H||Private Walter/ Wendell Peterson||Episode: "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet"|
|1974||The Waltons||Seth Turner||Episode: "The Gift"|
|1974–1984||Happy Days||Richard 'Richie' Cunningham||171 episodes|
|1974||Locusts||Donny Fletcher||TV Movie|
|1974||The Migrants||Lyle Barlow||TV Movie|
|1975||Huckleberry Finn||Huckleberry Finn||TV Movie|
|1976||Laverne & Shirley||Richie Cunningham||2 episodes|
|1976||I'm a Fool||Andy||TV Movie|
|1980||The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang||Richie Cunningham (voice)||Episode: "King for a Day"|
|1980||Act of Love||Leon Cybulkowski||TV Movie|
|1981||Bitter Harvest||Ned De Vries||TV Movie|
|1981||Fire on the Mountain||Lee Mackie||TV Movie|
|1983||When Your Lover Leaves||TV Movie; uncredited; also executive producer|
|1986||Return to Mayberry||Opie Taylor||TV Movie|
|1988||Channel 99||Himself||TV Movie|
|1998-1999||The Simpsons||Himself (voice)||2 episodes|
|1999||Frasier||Stephen (voice)||Episode: "Good Samaritan"|
|2003–2006; 2013; 2018||Arrested Development||Narrator
Semi-fictional version of himself
|68 episodes; also executive producer|
|2016||The Odd Couple||Stanley||Episode: "Taffy Days"|
|2017||This is Us||Himself||Episode: "What Now?"|
|1978||Cotton Candy||TV Movie, also writer|
|1980||Skyward||TV Movie; also executive producer|
|1981||Through the Magic Pyramid||TV Movie; also executive producer|
|1983||Littleshots||TV Movie; also executive producer|
|2017||Genius||Pilot episode; also executive producer|
|1981||Skyward Christmas||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1983||When Your Lover Leaves||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1984–1985||Maximum Security||Executive producer;|
|1985||No Greater Gift||Executive producer; TV special|
|1985||Into Thin Air||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1986||The Lone-Star Kid||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1987||Take Five||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1988||Poison||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1999||Mullholland Drive||Executive producer; TV movie|
|1998||From the Earth to the Moon||Producer, TV miniseries|
|1998–2000||Sports Night||Executive producer|
|1999–2001||The PJs||Executive producer|
|1999||Student Affairs||TV movie|
|2000||Silicon Follies||Executive producer; TV movie|
|2001||The Beast||Executive producer|
|2003||The Snobs||Executive producer|
|2006–present||Curious George||Executive producer|
|2012||The Great Escape||Executive producer|
|2003–2006; 2013, 2018||Arrested Development||Executive producer|
|2014||Unsung Heroes||Executive producer; TV documentary|
|2017||The Dark Tower|