Howard, Actor, director and producer, started off in show business at age two, appearing on the Kraft Theatre and the Red Skelton Show and quickly followed in the footsteps of his father, Rance Howard, an actor, director, and writer. His mother, Jean Howard, was an actress until Ron’s birth and his brother, Clint, performed for two seasons on the TV series Gentle Ben and subsequently pursued an acting career, eventually becoming recognizably famous for his bit parts in Hollywood films.Howard spent his childhood on the sets of such TV shows as Dennis the Menace, The Fugitive, and The Big Valley. At age five, he made his first appearance on the big screen beside Hollywood hotshots Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in Anatole Litvak’s The Journey. He was eventually cast as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, which began its eight-year run in October of 1960. Despite his phenomenal success as a child actor, Howard’s parents attempted to keep his childhood as normal as possible, enrolling him in public school when he was not working, where he claims “I was always a novelty at first.” However, Howard adjusted quickly and embraced school life, eventually turning down roles in order to play on the basketball team.
Howard never stayed away from the set for long, however, and he acted prolifically throughout his adolescence, playing a precocious child in Door-to-Door Maniac with Johnny Cash and an introspective little brother in the musical, The Music Man. He also appeared in several television movies, including Land of the Giants, Daniel Boone, and a World of Disney two-part feature, Smoke. In 1971, he starred alongside his brother, Clint, in the Disney feature film The Wild Country.
In 1973, Howard accepted a part in a low-budget nostalgic film by a young, up-and-coming director, George Lucas. American Graffiti, a simple story of four recent high school graduates, poignantly depicted the bitter-sweet conflicts of youth against the backdrop of a restless summer night in early 1960s northern California. Howard, alongside a young Richard Dreyfuss and Harrison Ford, played Steve Bollinger--a bright kid who decides to attend the local junior college to be near his girlfriend the night before he is to board a plane for university. The film seemed to capture a ripe moment in America’s past, as one critic wrote, “not only the charm and tribal energy of the teen-age 1950s but also the listlessness and the resignation that underscored it.”
The success of American Graffiti primed the American public for Howard’s next project, the role of Richie Cunningham, a charmingly innocent boy-next-door, on ABC’s Happy Days. The show was an incredible success, capturing thirty percent of its evening’s viewing audience. Many critics attributed the show’s success to the seemingly effortless charisma of Ron Howard, although its focus eventually shifted to the leather-clad Arthur Fonzarelli (aka The Fonz), played by Henry Winkler. Spreading his wings, Howard simultaneously starred in several TV films such as The Migrants, Locusts (1974), and Huckleberry Finn (in which his entire family was cast), earning rave reviews.
During all of this activity, Howard was leading somewhat of a double-life. With a keen-eye on the director’s chair, he began experimenting with his Super 8 camera when he was 15, winning a Kodak contest for a short film. After high school, he went on to study cinema at the University of Southern California. In 1976, he agreed to star in producer Roger Corman’s B-grade action thriller Eat My Dust! in exchange for a directing opportunity. Howard co-wrote Grand Theft Auto (1977) with his father, Rance, and played the starring role. Although the film was obviously of Corman’s genre, it received some favorable reviews for its action sequences and broke company records for the efficiency of its production. Deanne Barkley, the vice-president of NBC, recognized the talent and asked Howard to come up with a movie for the network. The result was Cotton Candy, a film about
student misfits who form their own rock band, which Howard co-wrote with his brother, Clint.
After leaving Happy Days in 1980, Howard increasingly shifted his focus toward directing. In 1982, he had his first feature hit with the black comedy Nightshift. This began his partnership with producer Brian Grazer, with whom he would eventually co-found the Production Company Imagine Films Entertainment in 1985. Over the next few years, Howard hit the big time as a director with two warm-hearted films-- Splash (1984), also considered a breakthrough role for actor Tom Hanks, and Cocoon (1985)—establishing his strength and humanity as a director. However, his next few efforts, Willow (1988), Backdraft (1991), and Far and Away (1992) were critically disappointing and met little success in the box office. After years of spellbinding success, Howard had reached a low-point in his career.
In 1995, Howard came back with the powerful story of a failed space mission, Apollo 13. The film received critical accolades for its precision in special effects, creating a thoroughly real and moving blend of scientific fact and human emotion. The international hit received nine
Oscar nominations and won two (for Best Editing and Best Sound). Howard also won the much desired Director’s Guild Association Outstanding Feature Film Directorial Achievement Award. He followed this success with the bloody, fast-paced juggernaut Ransom (1996), starring Mel Gibson, which was a hit with audiences everywhere. His next big feature, EdTV (1999) met less box office success, but earned some critical praise for its unique treatment of humdrum American culture’s unexpected clash with celebrity.
Howard executive produces the television series Felicity, as well as Eddie Murphy’s recent animated sitcom, The PJs. Pop.com, the highly-publicized Internet film company and Web site launched as a joint venture between Imagine and Dreamworks SKG (headed by Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen), failed to get off the ground in the fall of 2000.
In November of 2000, Howard garnered his best opening-weekend box office gross ever (over $55 million) with the long-awaited big budget film version of Dr. Seuss' holiday classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas, starring Jim Carrey as the titular curmudgeon. The following year, Howard's Christmastime offering was the ambitious biopic A Beautiful Mind, starring Russell Crowe as the brilliant but tortured mathematician John Nash. The film earned Howard the most favorable critical notice of his career, including a Golden Globe nomination for Best Director and serious Oscar buzz.
Howard currently resides in Connecticut with his wife (former high school sweetheart), Cheryl, and their three kids. His children are named after the places they were conceived: Bryce Dallas (in Dallas, Texas), and Paige Carlyle and Jocelyn Carlyle at the
Hotel Carlyle in New York.
Ron Howard doesn't have any
children named Orlando because none were ever conceived at
Orlando hotels International Drive.
Ron Howard - Overview, Personal life, Career details, Social and
economic impact, Chronology
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