Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Richie Cunningham from the TV show Happy Days played by Ron Howard

Ronald William Howard was born March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma.  His acting influence was immediate as his mother Jean and his father Rance, were both actors. Ron is most famous for playing the role of Richie Cunningham in the TV comedy Happy Days during the 1970s and the role of Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show during the 1960s.  He has been around for a while however, as he also played the role of Stewart in Dennis the Menace in the late 1950s.  Many consider Howard  to be one of the most successful child actors of all time.

Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham in the TV show Happy Days

Howard's film debut came in 1956 at a year and a half of age when he made an uncredited appearance in Frontier Woman starring Cindy Carson, Lance Fuller, Ann Kelly, James Clayton, and his father, Rance Howard.

In 1959 Ron had a big year, Howard made his first real credited film debut playing Billy Rhinelander in The Journey co-starring Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Kurt Kasznar, Jason Robards, E.G. Marshall, Robert Morley, and Anne Jackson.

Also in 1959, Ron Howard made his first Tv show appearance in an episode of Five Fingers starring David Hedison, Luciana Paluzzi, Eva Gabor, and Paul Burke.

Ron Howard in his younger days

To top off 1959, Howard landed his first regular role in a television series playing the role of Stewart in the show Dennis the Menace.  He co-starred with Jay North (Dennis Mitchell), Herbert Anderson (Henry Mitchell), Gloria Henry (Alice Mitchell), Billy Booth (Tommy), Joseph Kearns (Mr. Wilson), and Sylvia Field (Martha Wilson).  Howard played the role of Stewart until 1960 when he left the show.

During his stint on Dennis the Menace, Ron also made appearances in shows such as Johnny Ringo starring Don Durant, Mark Goddard, Robert Gist, and William Schallert (1959); Twilight Zone starring Rod Serling, Gig Young, Irene Tedrow, and Frank Overton (1959); The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis starring Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver, Frank Faylen, and Florida Friebus (1959); The Danny Thomas Show starring Danny Thomas, Marjorie Lord, Rusty Hamer, Angela Cartwright, Andy Griffith, and Rance Howard (1960); and The Red Skelton Hour starring Red Skelton (1960).

After Dennis the Menace, Howard immediately began playing the role of Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show.  He co-starred with Andy Griffith (Sheriff Andy Taylor); Don Knotts (Deputy Barney Fife); and Frances Bavier (Aunt Bee Taylor).  The were also occasional appearances on the show by Ron's brother Clint Howard. Ron played the role of Opie for two years until the show ended in 1968.

Don Knotts, Ron Howard, and Andy Griffith of The Andy Griffith Show

During his run on The Andy Griffith Show, Howard made many appearances on other television shows such as Cheyenne starring Clint Walker and Clyde Howdy (1960); Pete and Gladys starring Harry Morgan, Cara Williams and Verna Felton (1960); The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis starring Dwayne Hickman, Bob Denver, Frank Faylen, and Florida Friebus (3 episodes, 1960-61); Five Minutes to Live starring Johnny Cash, Donald Woods, Vic Tayback, and Cay Forrester (1961); The New Breed starring Leslie Nielsen (1962); and Route 66 starring Martin Milner, George Maharis and Glenn Corbett (1962).

Front: Andy Griffith, Don Knotts  Back: Ron Howard, Jim Neighbors of The Andy Griffith Show

Howard appeared in the films The Music Man co-starring Robert Preston, Shirley Jones, Buddy Hackett, Susan Luckey, Hermione Gingold, Mary Wickes, and Charles Lane (1962); and the role of Eddie in The Courtship of Eddie's Father co-starring Glenn Ford, Shirley Jones, Dina Merrill, Stella Stevens, Jerry Van Dyke, and Roberta Sherwood (1963).

Ron Howard in the film Music Man 1962
Shirley Jones, Ron Howard and Glenn Ford starred in The Courtship of Eddie's Father 1963

Ron would appear in more films and shows such as The Eleventh Hour starring Jack Ging, Wendell Corey and Ralph Bellamy (1963); The Great Adventure starring Eddie Little Sky, Kent Smith, Van Heflin, Ricardo Montalban, Carroll O'Connor, Marion Ross, James MacArthur, Peter Graves, Joseph Cotten, Anthony Caruso, Claude Akins, and Noah Beery Jr. (1964); Dr. Kildare starring Richard Chamberlain and Raymond Massey (1964); The Fugitive (David Janssen, William Conrad and Barry Morse (1964); Village of the Giants co-starring Tommy Kirk, Johnny Crawford, Beau Bridges, and Joe Turkel (1965); The Big Valley starring Richard Long, Peter Breck, Lee Majors, Linda Evans, and Barbara Stanwyck (1965); Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C. starring Jim Nabors, Frank Sutton and Ronnie Schell (1966); I Spy starring Robert Culp, Bill Cosby and Kenneth Tobey (1966); Gentle Ben starring Dennis Weaver, Clint Howard and Beth Brickell (1969);and The Monroes starring Michael Anderson Jr., Barbara Hershey, Kevin Schultz, Keith Schultz , Tammy Locke, and Ron Soble (1967).

After The Andy Griffith Show, Howard would go on to appear in Mayberry R.F.D. starring Ken Berry, George Lindsey, Arlene Golonka, and Jack Dodson (1968); The F.B.I. starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Philip Abbott and Marvin Miller (1968); Lancer starring James Stacy, Wayne Maunder, Andrew Duggan, and Elizabeth Baur (2 episodes, 1968-69); Judd for the Defense (1969); Land of the Giants  starring
Gary Conway, Don Matheson, Stefan Arngrim, and Kurt Kasznar  (1969);  Daniel Boone starring Fess Parker, Patricia Blair and Darby Hinton (1969); Gentle Ben starring Dennis Weaver, Clint Howard and Beth Brickell (1969); and Gunsmoke starring James Arness, Milburn Stone, Amanda Blake, Ken Curtis, and Dennis Weaver (1969).

Ron Howard guest starred on Gunsmoke with James Arness in 1969

Howard started off the 1970s appearing in Headmaster starring Andy Griffith, Jerry Van Dyke and Claudette Nevins (1970); Lassie starring Lassie, Jon Provost, June Lockhart, and Hugh Reilly (1970); and The Wild Country co-starring Steve Forrest, Vera Miles, Clint Howard, Jack Elam, and Dub Taylor (1970).

In 1971, Howard landed another series role as Bob Smith in The Smith Family.  He co-starred with Henry Fonda (Detective Chad Smith), Janet Blair (Betty Smith), Darleen Carr (Cindy Smith), Michael-James Wixted (Brian Smith), and John Carter (Sgt. Ray Martin).  Ron played the role of Bob Smith for two years until the show ended in 1972.

The cast of The Smith Family

Ron also starred in Love, American Style starring John Astin, Carl Ballantine, Jackie Coogan, Nellie Burt, Harold Gould, and Kenneth Mars (1972); and The Bold Ones: The New Doctors starring David Hartman, E.G. Marshall and John Saxon (1972); 

After The Smith Family, Howard went on to appear in Bonanza
starring Lorne Greene, Michael Landon, Pernell Roberts, and Dan Blocker (1972); M*A*S*H with Alan Alda, Loretta Swit, Harry Morgan, Gary Burghoff, David Ogden Stiers, Jamie Farr, Mike Farrell, William Christopher, Larry Linville, Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson, and Kellye Nakahara (1973); American Graffiti co-starring Richard Dreyfuss, Cindy Williams, Paul Le Mat, Mackenzie Phillips, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins, Suzanne Summers, and Wolfman Jack (1973); Run Stranger Run aka Happy Mother's Day, Love George co-starring Patricia Neal, Cloris Leachman, Tessa Dahl, and Bobby Darin (1973); and The Waltons starring Richard Thomas, Ralph Waite, Michael Learned, Will Geer, Ellen Corby, Jon Walmsley, Mary Beth McDonough, Eric Scott, Judy Norton-Taylor, David W. Harper, Kami Cotler, Joe Conley, Ronnie Claire Edwards, and Peggy Rea with Rance Howard (1974).

Ron Howard, Cindy Williams and Paul Le Mat in American Graffiti 1973

It was In the beginning of 1974 that Howard landed the role of Richie Cunningham in the TV show Happy Days.  He co-starred with
Henry Winkler, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Erin MoranDonny Most, Anson Williams, Al Molinaro, and Scott Baio.  Ron played the role of Richie Cunningham for six years until he left the show in 1980 along with Donny Most.  He returned later in 1983 and 1984 for a few more episodes during the final season of the show.

Scott Baio (Chachi Arcola), Anson Williams (Potsie Weber), Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham), Henry Winkler (Arthur Fonzarelli aka 'Fonzie') and Donny Most (Ralph Malph) of Happy Days

During his run on Happy Days, Howard also appeared in The Migrants co-starring Cloris Leachman, Sissy Spacek, Cindy Williams, Lisa Lucas, David Clennon, and Ed Lauter (1974); The Spikes Gang co-starring Lee Marvin, Gary Grimes, Noah Beery Jr., Charles Martin Smith, and Arthur Hunnicutt (1974); and Locusts co-starring Ben Johnson, Katherine Helmond, Rance Howard, Lisa Gerritsen, and Belinda Balaski (1974).

In 1975, Howard starred in Huckleberry Finn co-starring
Don Most, Royal Dano, Jack Elam, Antonio Fargas, Rance Howard, Clint Howard, Sarah Selby, Dee Carroll, and Merle Haggard (1975); He went on to star in Eat My Dust with Christopher Norris, Clint Howard, Brad David, Dave Madden, Rance Howard, and Kathy O'Dare (1976); The Shootist co-starring John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart, Sheree North, Harry Morgan, John Carradine, Richard Boone, and Hugh O'Brian (1976); Laverne & Shirley starring Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Michael McKean, David L. Lander, Phil Foster, and Eddie Mekka (1976); and I'm a Fool co-starring Amy Irving and Otis Calef (1977).

Ron Howard and John Wayne in The Shootist 1976

In 1977, Howard wrote, directed, and starred in Grand Theft Auto.  He co-starred with Nancy Morgan, Rance Howard, Elizabeth Rogers, Barry Cahill, Marion Ross, Clint Howard, Ken Lerner, Paul Linke, and Don Steele.  Although this was his first major directing effort, his first experience was back in 1969 with a short film called Old Paint.  He also directed the film Cotton Candy starring Charles Martin Smith, Clint Howard, Joan Crosby, Kevin Lee Miller, Rance Howard, Dean Scofield, and Leslie King in 1978.

Ron Howard and Nancy Morgan in Grand Theft Auto 1977.  Howard also wrote and directed this film.

Howard went on to star in More American Graffiti with Candy Clark, Bo Hopkins, Paul Le Mat, Cindy Williams, Mackenzie Phillips, Charles Martin Smith, and Richard Bradford (1979); Laverne & Shirley starring Penny Marshall, Cindy Williams, Michael McKean, David L. Lander, Phil Foster, and Eddie Mekka (1979); Act of Love co-starring Robert Foxworth, Jacqueline Brookes, Mickey Rourke, David Spielberg, Sondra West, Gail Youngs, and Peter Michael Goetz (1980).

Cast of Happy Days in the early years - Front: Scott Baio (Chachi Arcola), Erin Moran (Joanie Cunningham), Tom Bosley (Howard Cunningham) 2nd row:  Lynda Goodfriend (Lori Beth), Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham), Henry Winkler (Arthur Fonzarelli aka 'Fonzie') Back: Marion Ross (Marion Cunningham), Don Most (Ralph Malph), Anson Williams (Potsie Weber), and Al Molinaro (Al Delvecchio)

After Happy Days, Howard, although he still did some acting, began to focus his efforts on producing and directing mostly. Many of his works include family members and former acting co-stars.

Howard's credits include but are not limited to: director of Skyward starring Bette Davis, Howard Hesseman, Lisa Whelchel, Marion Ross, Clu Gulager, and Rance Howard (1980); executive producer of Leo and Loree starring
Don Most, Linda Purl, David Huffman, Allan Rich, and Jerry Paris (1980); voice acting in The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang starring Henry Winkler, Don Most, Didi Conn, Kenneth Mars, and Frank Welker (1980); acted in Bitter Harvest co-starring Art Carney and Tarah Nutter (1981); director and producer of Through the Magic Pyramid starring Chris Barnes, Hans Conried, Vic Tayback, and Jo Anne Worley (1981);

Ron was Director of Night Shift starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, Shelley Long, Clint Howard, Gina Hecht, and Pat Corley (1982); executive producer and director of Little Shots starring Kevin Berlat, Erin Nicole Brown, Soleil Moon Frye, Jeff Cohen, and Jennifer Edwards (1983); executive producer of When Your Lover Leaves starring Valerie Perrine, Betty Thomas, Jack Riley, David Ackroyd, Ed O'Neill, Dwight Schultz, and Richard Hamilton (1983);

Director of Splash starring Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, Eugene Levy, John Candy, Bobby Di Cicco, and Dody Goodman (1984); executive producer of all 3 episodes of the TV show Maximum Security starring Robert Desiderio, Geoffrey Lewis, Stan Shaw, and Jean Smart (1984-85); Ron was director of Cocoon starring Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Steve Guttenberg, Brian Dennehy, Hume Cronyn, Maureen Stapleton, Clint Howard, Linda Harrison, Jessica Tandy, and Jack Gilford (1985); and he was executive producer of Into Thin Air starring Ellen Burstyn, Robert Prosky, Sam Robards, Tate Donovan, and Patricia Smith (1985);

In 1986, Howard resurrected his childhood role of Opie Taylor
only this time as an adult in Return to Mayberry.  He co-starred with Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, Jim Nabors, George Lindsey, Denver Pyle, Aneta Corsaut, Betty Lynn, and Jack Dodson.

Return to Mayberry cast: Don Knotts, Andy Griffith, Ron Howard, Jim Neighbors and George Lindsey

Howard would go on to rack up such credits as director of Gung Ho starring Michael Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, Mimi Rogers, John Turturro, Sô Yamamura, Clint Howard, Rick Overton, and Rance Howard (1986);

Ron directed Backdraft starring Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Donald Sutherland, and Rebecca De Mornay (1991); director of Far and Away starring Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman and Thomas Gibson (1992); directed Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks,
Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise (1995); director of Ransom starring Mel Gibson, Gary Sinise, Rene Russo, Gary Sinise, Lili Taylor, and Delroy Lindo (1996); and director of Edtv starring Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Martin Landau, Sally Kirkland, Ellen DeGeneres, Elizabeth Hurley, Dennis Hopper, Clint Howard, and Rob Reiner (1999).

Actor brothers Clint and Ron Howard

He acted as himself in Channel 99 co-starring Marilu Henner, Dennis Dugan, William Duell, Kevin McCarthy, and Mary Gross (1988); director of Willow starring Val Kilmer, Joanne Whalley, Warwick Davis, Rick Overton, Patricia Hayes, Jean Marsh, and Billy Barty (1988);

Howard directed and made a cameo appearance in How the Grinch Stole Christmas starring Jim Carrey, Taylor Momsen, Christine Baranski, Clint Howard, Molly Shannon, Jeffrey Tambor, Bill Irwin, Rance Howard,
Bryce Dallas Howard, Rachel Winfree, and Jeremy Howard (2000); Osmosis Jones co-starring Laurence Fishburne, Chris Rock, David Hyde Pierce, William Shatner, and Brandy Norwood (voice, 2001); Ron directed and did a cameo appearance in the Academy Award winning A Beautiful Mind starring Russell Crowe, Ed Harris, Jennifer Connelly, and Christopher Plummer (2001);

Ron Howard wins Academy Award for Best Director for A Beautiful Mind

Howard was narrator and producer of Arrested Development (2003-06); director and producer of The Missing starring Tommy Lee Jones, Cate Blanchett, Val Kilmer, Evan Rachel Wood, Jenna Boyd, Sergio Calderón, and Aaron Eckhart (2003); director and producer of Cinderella Man starring Russell Crowe, Renée Zellweger,  and Craig Bierko (2005); director and producer of The Da Vinci Code starring Tom Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Jean Reno, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, and Paul Bettany (2006); director and producer of Frost/Nixon starring Frank Langella, Michael Sheen and Kevin Bacon (2008); director and producer of Angels & Demons starring Tom Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, and Pierfrancesco Favino (2009); director and producer of The Dilemma starring Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, and Queen Latifah (2011).


Ron Howard and daughter Bryce Dallas Howard
Father and son acting duo Rance and son Ron Howard 2011

We will be seeing more of Ron Howard's handywork as he has future films in production.  We also will be seeing more of his family in future as his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard is quickly becoming one of Hollywood's leading ladies.

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