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{photo by Georges Biard, Ron Howard at the Cannes Fil Festival, 2018}

March 1, 2022 is Ron Howard’s 67th birthday. He started acting at five. He went from a child actor to an Oscar-winning director. His theatrical career has stretched over six decades: actor, director, writer, and producer.

Ronald William Howard was born March 1, 1964 in Duncan, Oklahoma.Tuesday, March 1, 2022 is his 67th birthday. Ron Howard is married to actress Cheryl Howard (nee Alley) since 1975. They have four children together: daughters Bryce, Paige, Jocelyn, and son Reed. They also have two grandchildren, BBeatrice and Theo.

The Howard Dynasty

Ron Howard is part of a theatrical family. His father was actor/writer Rance Howard who played David Sheridan, on Babylon 5, the father of Captain John Sheridan. His mother, Jean Frances Speegle Howard was an actress who played Natalie French on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Mrs. Baker on Two of a Kind, starring the younger sisters of Elizabeth Olsen.. Ron and his brother Clint were child actors, Clint: (Balok in Star Trek) (Mark in Gentle Ben). Ron played Opie in the Andy Griffith Show, whom Mork from Ork described in an episode of Happy Days as “that kid with a Martian name.” Now three of his four daughters are actresses, Bryce , Jocelyn, and Paige, are actresses now.

Little Ronny Howard

Ron Howard started his acting career in an uncredited bit part in the movie Frontier Woman (1956). Then he appeared as Nilly Rhinelander in The Journey (1959). Then came guest roles in Black and White TV shows: Playhouse 90, Five Fingers, Johnny Ringo, and, of course Twilight Zone. He had a recurring role on Dennis the Menace as Stewart. In 1962 he broke into the big time, first playing Marian the Librarian’s little brother Winthrop in The Music Man(1962). He played Eddie Corbett in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father(1963), the role played by Brandon Cruz in the Bill Bixby TV show. From 1960 to 1968 he played Opie Taylor on 239 episodes of The Andy Griffith Show; he reprised the role on two episodes of Gomer Pyle: U.S.M.C, andone episode of Mayberry, R.F.D. and as Ron Howard in Return to Mayberry(1986). Throughout the Sixties and Seventies, Ronny Howard was popular with casting directors who needed a reliable young guest star for various television shows

Left to right, Andy Griffith, Ronnie Howard, Fon Knotts, Jim Nabors.
Andy Griffith as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor, and Don Knotts as Deputy Barney Fife in the television sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. The show aired on CBS from October 3, 1960 to April 1, 1968, with a total of 249 half-hour episodes.

Ron Howard, the Actor

After co-starring with John Wayne in The Shootist (1976) he was billed as Ron Howard instead of Ronnie.

He starred in Huckleberry Finn (1975) with his Happy Days co-star, Don Most as Tom Sawyer. From 1974-1984 he played Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, his second best known role after Opie Taylor. He created the role of Richie for an episode of Love, American Style, He reprised the role in Laverne & Shirley and the Saturday morning cartoon The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. He appeared in the movie The Independent (2000) as himself. He not only directed, but starred in and co-wrote (ith his father)Grand Theft Auto (1977). In 1979, he began his long collaboration with George Lucas, playing Steve Bolander in American Graffiti.

Ron Howard the Director

Growing up backstage, Ron Howard decided young he wanted to be a director.

In an interview Ron Howard said “I became intrigued by what the director did primarily because when I was working on the show — The Andy Griffith Show — the actors, they were a blast. I had so much fun hanging around with them. They were interesting, they were smart, they were funny. They were playing practical jokes, then on a dime, they could focus and do great work. And even as a kid, I was impressed with these people. But I also really enjoyed spending time with the crew. They’d let me sit up there and work the camera or learn a little something about sound, how the microphone worked, and placement, and lighting, and things like that. And I enjoyed that time. And, after a while, I realized that the director was the one person who, moment to moment, day in and day out, really got to play with everybody. And the job just started to look very, very good to me.”

Ron made his feature film directorial debut with Grand Theft Auto (1977). He went on to direct 40 movies, including several science fiction and fantasy favorites, like Splash (1984), Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), Apollo 13 (1995), and Solo: A Star Wars Story(2018) He also directed Cotton Candy (1978), The Heart of the Sea (2015). He directed and had a bit part in A Beautiful Mind (2001), for which Howard won an Oscar as Best Director. The film also won an Oscar for Best Picture. Howard directed Frost/Nixon (2008), which was nominated for five Oscars , including Best Picture and Best Achievement in Directing. Ron Howard has been nominated for an Emmy Award ten times. He has directed several documentaries which have won critical acclaim. He directed Far and Away (1992).

Ron Howard’s Long and Strong Connection to Science Fiction.

Ron Howard has been involved in science fiction since long before he began his friendship with George Lucas.

As Ronny Howard he made guest appearances in The Land of the Giants and Twilight Zone. He appeared in the movie The Village of the Giants (1965). He appeared in The Death and Return of Superman in 2011. His character Richie Cunningham on Happy Days was the first Eathling to meet Mork from Ork, before Mork spun off to his own show with Mork and Mindy.

The first sci-fi/fantasy movie Howard directed was The Time Crystal (1981), starring Eric Greene (Loki in Space Academy) as the young King Tut. He later directed:

  • Splash (1984)
  • Cocoon (1985)
  • Willow (1988)
  • Apollo 13 (1995)*,
  • How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
  • and Solo: A Star Wars Story(2018)
  • Far and Away (1992)

It’s been announced he will be directing the upcoming scifi movie Seveneves, based on a hard science SF novel by the same name, written by Neal Stephenson.

Happy Birthday, Ron Howard. Thanks for over a half-century of entertainment as an actor, director, writer, and producer. Here’s hoping you have a great birthday with your family. We wouldn’t complain if there are more great movies in the future.

-30-

*Not really science fiction in this case, but more of a docu-drama. – ed

Susan Macdonald
Susan Macdonald

Susan Macdonald is the author of the children’s book “R is for Renaissance Faire”, as well as short stories in “Alternative Truths”, “Swords and Sorceress #30”, “Supernatural Colorado”, “Barbarian Crowns”, “Cat Tails””Under Western Stars”, and “Knee-High Drummond and the Durango Kid”. Her articles have appeared on SCIFI.radio’s web site, in The Inquisitr, and in The Millington Star. She enjoys Renaissance Faires (see book above), science fiction conventions,  Highland Games, and Native American pow-wows.

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