From his acceptance speech, upon being presented with the Best Director Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday, March 24, 2002:
…It’s pretty simple, really. I’m grateful. I’m very grateful for an entire lifetime spent involved in this creative process that we do.
I’m grateful that I was raised by an extraordinary man, my father Rance Howard, and my late mother Jean Howard. I also want to mention that before my mom passed away, about eighteen months ago, she predicted that this was going to happen for me on this film. Well, she also made that prediction on every movie that I’ve directed since 1983. So, now you know a little something about my mom. Thank you, Mom. Then there are the loves of my life. My incredible wife Cheryl. Yeah, she’s something. Kids at home, Bryce, Jocelyn, Paige and Reed. Thank you for all the most important reasons…1
Born March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma to theatre actors Rance and Jean Speegle Howard, little Ron Howard made his screen debut at 18 months, in Frontier Woman (1955) and his theatrical debut in a Baltimore production of The Seven Year Itch at age two. In 1959 his family relocated to Hollywood and he made his first credited screen appearance in The Journey, a political drama starring Yul Brynner. By 1960 little Ronny had been cast as Opie Taylor, son of Mayberry’s widowed town sheriff Andy Taylor, on The Andy Griffith Show, which ran on TV for eight years and can still be found in syndication. 1962 brought two more movie roles, as Winthrop Paroo in The Music Man and as Eddie in The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. During these years Rance Howard was a constant presence on whichever set Ronny was working, insuring that Ronny was well treated. Howard attended public schools and remembers “the kid stuff…playing army with the kids on the block, and I lived on a block. I had all that.”2 His father even made sure that Ronny’s contract for The Andy Griffith Show included “time off for a normal childhood.” 3
And normal is exactly how little Ronny/Opie came across. His tousled red hair, freckles, and open smile exuded innocence and a boyish charm. Even later, cast as Steve Bolander in George Lucas’s American Graffiti and on TV as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days, Garry Marshall’s long running situation comedy about the 50’s, his image was one of wholesomeness: dutiful son, loyal friend, the All-American teenager, the boy next door.
Ron Howard is one of the few child actors to have made a smooth transition to adulthood and an adult life in the movie business; he seems to have avoided the pitfalls and excesses of Hollywood more gracefully than most. From the time he was small, he wanted to be “Actor, writer, producer, director, cameraman…and baseball player.” 4 By the time he was fifteen, he had started shooting family movies with a Super-8 camera, and after high school, he attended two years’ worth of film school at the University of Southern California before leaving to gather experience in the ‘real world’.
In order to finance his first film, Howard struck a deal with Roger Corman—in exchange for his starring in Corman’s 1976 film, Eat My Dust!, Corman agreed to produce Grand Theft Auto. In 1977, Howard directed and acted in Grand Theft Auto, the screenplay for which he had co-written with his dad. In 1982, working with producer Brian Grazer, he had his first big hit with the black comedy Night Shift. Grazer eventually became Howard’s partner and (in 1985) the co-founder of Imagine Films Entertainment, their production company.
One of his mentors, Henry Fonda (whom he starred opposite in the short-lived 1971 television series The Smith Family) encouraged Howard “to strive for creative growth and to take periodic risks to keep himself vital.” 5 Although some critics have characterized Howard as “master of the mainstream,”6 he has been willing to experiment with different genres: his credits range from romantic comedies (Splash, 1984) and science fiction and fantasy (Cocoon, 1985 and Willow, 1988), to big budget action (Backdraft, 1991) and suspense/thriller (Ransom, 1996). Apollo 13 (1995), an account of a failed moon mission which starred Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise, earned Howard the Director’s Guild Association Outstanding Feature Film Directorial Achievement Award and was nominated for nine Oscars (it won for Best Editing and Best Sound).
Ron Howard’s films are well crafted and he seems to have very good judgement; personally, I trust his taste. Who else could be relied upon to make a feature length, live action adaptation of Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and not mess up our childhood memories of the book or the T.V. special?
Most recently, Howard’s A Beautiful Mind (2001), the story of the Nobel Prize-winning mathematician and schizophrenic John Forbes Nash Jr. (played by Russell Crow) won Best Picture awards at both the Golden Globes and the Oscars. A Beautiful Mind also won Academy Awards in the categories of Best Supporting Actress (Jennifer Connelly), Best Director, and Best Screenplay/ Adaptation (Akiva Goldsman; adapted from the 1998 book of the same name by Sylvia Nasar.)
Ron Howard has one brother, Clint, an actor, and has been married since 1975 to his high school sweetheart, Cheryl Alley, a writer. Both Clint and Cheryl have appeared in many of Ron’s films, the latter in non-speaking roles. (Ron cast both of his parents and his daughter Bryce (in a cameo appearance) in the movie Apollo 13). Ron and Cheryl live in Connecticut and have four children. The middle names of the three oldest children signify the place where they were conceived; Bryce Dallas, Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige Carlyle (twins; the Hotel Carlyle in New York City). Bryce is now a famous actor in her own right.
- 2002 AFI Film Awards, USA : A Beautiful Mind (nominated)
- 2002 Academy Awards, USA : A Beautiful Mind : won Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress, Best Screenplay/Adaptation
- 2002 British Academy Awards : A Beautiful Mind : nominated for BAFTA Film Award and David Lean Award for Direction
- 2002 Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards : A Beautiful Mind : won Best Director (Tied with Baz Luhrmann for Moulin Rouge)
- 2002 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards : A Beautiful Mind : nominated for Best Director
- 2002 Directors Guild of America, USA : A Beautiful Mind : won Outstanding Directorial Achivement in Motion Pictures
- 2002 Golden Globes, USA : A Beautiful Mind: nominated for Best Director—Motion Picture
- 2002 ShoWest Convention, USA : won Director of the Year
- 2001 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy amp&; Horror Films, USA : How the Grinch Stole Christmas : nominated for Saturn Award, Best Director
- 2000 PGA Golden Laurel Awards : Sports Night : nominated for Television Producer of the Year Award in Eposodic
- 1999 PGA Golden Laurel Awards : From the Earth to the Moon : won Television Producer of the Year Award in Longform
- 1999 Emmy Awards : The PJs : nominated for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming One Hour or Less)
- 1998 Emmy Awards : From the Earth to the Moon : won Outstanding Miniseries
- 1996 Directors Guild of America, USA : Apollo 13 : won Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures
- 1996 Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards : Apollo 13 : won Best Director
- 1996 Golden Globes, USA : Apollo 13 : nominated for Best Director—Motion Picture
- 1990 American Cinematheque Gala Tribute : won American Cinematheque Award
- 1986 Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy amp&; Horror Films, USA : Cocoon: won Saturn Award, Best Director
- 1982 Emmy Awards : Through the Magic Pyramid (T.V.) : nominated for Outstanding Childrens Program
- 1978 Golden Globes, USA : Happy Days : nominated for Best TV Actor—Musical/Comedy
- 1977 Golden Globes, USA : The Shootist : nominated for Best Motion Picture Actor in a Supporting Role
- 1963 Laurel Awards : nominated for Golden Laurel, Top New Male Personality
Combined Filmography and Television Appearances Whew! Who knew he was so prolific?
2 Bruce Cameron, http://us.imdb.com/Bio?Howard,+Ron
3 Sandra Brennan, http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=B94983
5 Brennan (see above)