The boy behind Opie
Young Ron Howard, with his affable nature and that signature red hair, quickly became a household favorite. But while most knew him as Sheriff Taylor’s earnest son, few could predict the cinematic giant he would become.
Transitioning to a career behind the camera
Post-Opie days, Ron Howard didn’t just rest on his laurels. He continued his acting stint with a starring role in American Graffiti, and became very well-known as an adult as Richie Cunningham on Happy Days.
But it was the director’s chair that held the most allure.
Films like A Beautiful Mind, which delved into the complexities of the human psyche, and Apollo 13, a gripping portrayal of a space mission gone awry, showcased Howard’s depth and versatility. These weren’t just films — they were experiences. The Academy certainly agreed, showering him with nominations and awards.
Ron Howard’s legacy & impact
In Hollywood, where careers can sometimes be short-lived, Howard’s endurance stands out. Each project he took on reflected his innate understanding of storytelling. Be it drama, comedy, or thrillers, he seemed to possess a chameleon-like ability to adapt to any genre.
It was more than just having a keen directorial eye, but about understanding the human experience, which Howard so beautifully translates onto the screen.
Ron Howard’s collaborations with the best
Howard’s projects often involve a roll call of Hollywood’s crème de la crème. From multiple collaborations with Tom Hanks, including the gripping Da Vinci Code series, to working with well-known actors like Russell Crowe, his synergy with actors brings out their best. It’s this mutual respect and shared vision that’s resulted in some of cinema’s most memorable moments.
Ron Howard’s career, woven with threads of passion, innovation, and collaboration, is a reminder that when art meets heart, the outcome is nothing short of magical.
Take a look below at two interviews with young Ron — the first from way, way back in the day, when he was 11-year-old child actor Ronnie Howard, the second from when he was starring on Happy Days — and see some photos from his career!
Ron Howard – young and old – with a milk mustache (1997)
Andy Griffith’s Ronnie is all boy
By Vernon Scott, Hollywood in the The Daily Independent (Kannapolis, NC) August 11, 1965
Ronnie Howard, the red-haired moppet of “The Andy Griffith Show,” is that rare child actor without guile and a Hollywood head.
He’s a well-adjusted 11-year-old who would rather play baseball with the kids on the block than go on a personal appearance tour.
He’s wealthy but he doesn’t know it, principally because his parents, Mr and Mrs Rance Howard, keep him on a paltry allowance and send him to public school when he’s not working on the show.
Ronnie, his parents and younger brother, Clint. 6, live in an unpretentious three-bedroom house in the San Fernando Valley. He describes it as “just a plain old house.”
Mrs. Howard has furnished the home in the currently-chic distressed mode. Ronnie puts it differently.
“This furniture is beat-up-looking when it’s new,” he says. “I think Mom likes the idea of distressed stuff, because when Clint gets through jumping around the house, it gets pretty battered. The more beat up it gets, the better it looks.”
Still, Ronnie’s mother recently spent three days revarnishing the damaged pieces.
Ronnie is possibly the only television star without a room to call his own. He and Clint share a bedroom, although Ronnie also has use of the family den where he likes to “fool around.”
Both Howard lads are baseball fans and collect cards bearing likenesses of their heroes. Naturally, they root for the Dodgers, and Sandy Koufax is Ronnie’s particular idol. Little Clint has 280 cards in his collection, and Ronnie’s hoard tops 300.
In the neighborhood, Ronnie is indistinguishable from the other kids. He runs around in blue jeans, open shirt and tennis shoes. He has one good suit for church and parties.
When the show is before the cameras, Ronnie is tutored by the same teacher he has studied with for the past five years. The video season ends, however, two months before summer vacation. At that time, Ronnie enrolls in public school.
“School’s a lot more fun than studying by myself at the studio (Desilu Cahuenga),” he says, “but I love to act, so I really don’t mind the kind of life I lead.
“When I get home from the studio, I change my clothes and play baseball with my team in the Hap Minor League. It’s for kids from 9 to 12 years old. I play the outfield and sometimes shortstop.”
On weekends, Ronnie begs his parents to take him to the beach, where he enjoys body surfing on a small plastic surfboard.
Because he has a limited amount of time to himself, Ronnie doesn’t have a dog. But he is the proud owner of a cat named Mitts — Mitts because he has six toes on his front paws, reminding Ronnie of a catcher’s mitt. On working days, Papa Howard drives Ronnie to work.
On the set, Ronnie is great pals with the series co-stars, Andy Griffith and comedian Don Knotts. Frequently he eats lunch in the studio commissary — as close to his actor friends as possible. “They’re real nice fellas,” he says.
Ronnie is home no later than 6 pm — often much earlier — in time for neighborhood games. At night, he hits the books and studies his script.
The future? “I think I’m going to keep on acting,” he says. “I really like it, and someday I’d like to become a director, too. Also, I want to go to college, but I don’t know where it will be yet.”
Ronnie was in a hurry. His baseball team was waiting.
At age 22, Ron Howard ready to act like an adult (1976)
By Dick Kleiner in the Birmingham Post-Herald (Alabama) February 28, 1976
HOLLYWOOD – This coming March, Ron Howard will be 22. It’s hard to believe, but he’s been acting for 17 years and he feels it’s high time he began acting his age.
At the moment, he’s the star of the ABC hit Happy Days. Although he’s still playing a teenager on the show, he says that at least he’s getting a chance to show some signs of maturity.
“These next few years,” Ron says, “will be a period of transition for me. At least I hope they will be. I can’t go on forever playing an 18-year-old. Happy Days is letting me mature somewhat. Last year, me and my buddies on the show were juniors in high school and this year we’re seniors. Next year, the plans call for us all to go on to college.”
But he’s looking beyond the series, which inevitably will end someday. Then he wants to have a crack at grown-up roles, parts with some meat on their bones. He feels he’s been playing kid parts long enough.
This is his third season on Happy Days. He had eight years as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, a few years on The Smith Family, and in between, he was in dozens of movies including, of course, American Graffiti.
All that was fine when he was a boy playing a boy and a teenager playing a teenager, but he’s a man now and it’s time to put aside childish things.
One thing, he’s a married man. Last June, he married his high school sweetheart Cheryl. She’s still going to college, studying psychology, and plans to go for both a master’s degree and a doctorate, and then work with either retarded children or in the field of geriatrics.
Ron is continuing his education too, when he can, but it’s hard to do work and go to college. He admits his educational pursuits currently are “just dabbling,” just taking a few courses which interest him in such subjects as history, business, and literature.
Even though he started acting when he was five, his father, an actor named Rance Howard, never pushed him. On the contrary, Ron’s dad always was careful to tell him he didn’t have to be an actor if he didn’t want to be one.
And for a time when he was in high school, he quit acting in favor of sports. As he puts it, “I devoted myself to basketball,” and had dreams of a career on the basketball court.
“At that time,” he says, “I expected to grow to be a six-footer. But I didn’t. Maybe that’s why I went back to acting.”
Now there’s something else on his mind. He’d like to direct. At the moment, he and some friends are making a movie, budgeted at $10,000, which is high for a strictly amateur project.
Ron wrote it and is directing it, and the group figures it will take them 15 weekends to complete. Cheryl Howard is in charge of make-up, costumes, and is the script girl.
So the Ronnie Howard of The Andy Griffith Show has become Ron Howard, a fully-grown and very serious person. It was, after all, inevitable.
Ron Howard on the cover of Disney Channel magazine (1986)