Ron Howard is an American filmmaker and actor, who began his career as a child artist with the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. He also popularized the character Opie Taylor in the sitcom Happy Days, which ran for eight seasons. Howard has directed several successful movies such as Apollo 13 (1995), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Frost/Nixon
(2008), and Rush
(2011). He won the Academy Award for Best Director for A Beautiful Mind.
Ron Howard was born to Rance Howard, a director, writer, and actor, and Jean Speegle Howard, an actress, in Oklahoma, USA. Ron`s family surname initially was `Beckhenholdt`, however, his father had to take up the stage name as `Howard`. In 1958, Howard`s family moved to Hollywood, lived there for three years and then moved to Burbank. He was initially tutored at the Desilu Studios and was later enrolled at the University of Southern California`s School of Cinematic Arts. However, he did not complete his graduation.
On June 7, 1975, Ron Howard married actress Cheryl Alley and the couple has four children: Bryce, twins Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige, and Reed Cross.
As an Actor
Howard got his first credit as a child actor in the movie The Journey in 1959. As a child actor, Howard appeared in several TV series and movies, however his most significant roles cams with `The Andy Griffith Show` and `Happy Days`, which he was a part of during his teens. Howard played the character of Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show, and even after the show ended Howard remained close to Andy Griffith.
During the 60s and 70s, Howard was part of several movies and TV series` such as The Music Man (1962), The Courtship of Eddie`s Father (1963), The Eleventh Hour (TV series), M*A*S*H (TV series), and The Bold Ones (TV series). Howard also appeared on Disneyland Records album, The Story and Song from the Haunted Mansion, in 1969.
In 1974, he along with his father, Rance Howard, starred in one of the episodes of The Walttons. However, it was his role as Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days that gained him wide recognition. A couple of years later Howard appeared in his last significant role in the TV movie Return to Mayberry.
As a Director
While Howard was still a part of the cast of Happy Days, it was a deal between him and Roger Corman
that eventually saw Howard directed his first movie Grand Theft Auto (1977). Corman let Howard direct the film in exchange of Howard starring in the movie Eat My Dust! (1976) alongside Christopher Norris.
In the subsequent years Howard directed several movies and it was his 1982 movie Night Shift starring Michael Keaton
, Henry Winkler
, and Shelley Long
that received widespread acclaim for Howard. The next decade saw Howard directing seven films of which five of them were successful at the box office - Splash
(1985), Parenthood (1989), Backdraft (1991), and Far and Away
Splash, a fantasy romantic comedy film starring Tom Hanks
, Daryl Hannah
, John Candy
, Dody Goodman, and Eugene Levy
was the first film released by Walt Disney Studios` Touchstone pictures which was targeted at adult audiences. The movie turned out to be a huge financial success and was also touted by the critics to be one of the best films released in 1984. Howard stuck to his formula of fantasy and comedy with his next project Cocoon
(1985). The movie received positive reviews from the critics with Janet Maslin of The New York Times stating: "Mr. Howard brings a real sweetness to his subject, as does the film`s fine cast of veteran stars; he has also given Cocoon the bright, expansive look of a hot-weather hit. And even when the film begins to falter, as it does in its latter sections, Mr. Howard`s touch remains reasonably steady. He does the most he can with material that, after an immensely promising opening, heads into the predictable territory of Spielberg-inspired beatific science fiction."
Howard`s 1991 movie, Backdraft, a drama thriller that revolved around firefighters who are on the trail of a serial arsonist, went on to become the highest-grossing film ever made on firefighters at the time of its release. In 1995, Howard directed Apollo 13, one of the best movies of the decade. The film starring Tom Hanks
, Kevin Bacon
, Bill Paxton
, Ed Harris
, and Gary Sinise
, showcases NASA`s 1970 Apollo 13 lunar mission, which was aborted owing to an explosion in the spacecraft. Howard took extreme efforts to make the film as realistic as possible - providing NASA`s technical assistance in astronaut and flight controller for his cast. He even obtained permission from NASA to shoot inside a reduced gravity aircraft to portray the `weightlessness` experienced by the astronauts. The movie went on to be nominated for nine academy awards winning two - Best Sound and Best Film Editing.
By the 2000s Howard was seen as an acclaimed director with his projects meticulously crafted and the extra efforts he took clearly reflected in his work. This was seen in his 2001 movie A Beautiful Mind, a biographical drama on the life of John Nash, a Nobel Laurete in Economics. The movie starring Russell Crowe
in the role of John Nash, won four Academy Awards - Best Director, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress and Best Adapted Screenplay. His next success was Cinderella Man (2001), which is inspired by the life of the heavyweight boxing champion James J. Braddock. The movie saw Howard teaming up with Russell Crowe once again and was a box office hit.
Many of Howard`s films being inspired by `true events` though received commercial acclaim, he at times also faced criticism for portraying a different picture of reality as well. This was evident when Howard`s 2006 movie The Da Vinci Code
was released. The mystery thriller film, which is based on Dan Brown`s novel of the same name, garnered controversy for portraying the Roman Catholic Church in negative light and showcasing that Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene were married and also bore a daughter together. Amidst the controversy, the critics also gave a negative review to the movie, however, it was a huge commercial success. Howard`s next project, Frost/Nixon
(2008), an American historical drama, turned out to be highly successful. In spite of the controversies faced after the release of The Da Vinci Code in 2006, Howard directed its sequel Angels & Demons
in 2009 based on Dan Brown`s novel of the same name. The movie alike its prequel received negative response by the critics but was successful commercially.
In 2013 Howard directed the biographical sports drama Rush
, which showcases the rivalry of two legendary Formula 1 drivers, Nikki Lauda and James Hunt, during the 1976 Formula One season. Although Howard received several accolades for the movie, he was also criticized for the historical inaccuracy depicted in the movie. A couple of years later, Howard took up another project inspired by a non-fiction book titled, In the Heart of the Sea, that showcases the sinking of an American whaling ship `Essex` in 1820. The movie titled In the Heart of the Sea
was released in 2015 and stars Chris Hemsworth
, Cillian Murphy
, Benjamin Walker
, and Tom Holland
. Receiving mixed reviews from the critics, the movie failed to recover its production cost and bombed at the box office. Howard`s 2016 projects include the second sequel to the movie The Da Vinci Code
(2006), titled Inferno
. The movie stars Tom Hanks
, Omar Sy
, Felicity Jones
, Ben Foster
, Sidse Babett Knudsen
, and Irrfan Khan
. Howard also directed Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018) and the documentary films, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week (2016), and Pavarotti (2019).
In 1982, Ron Howard and Brian Grazer worked on the movie Night Shift; Howard being the director while Grazer being the producer. The duo teamed up again for the movie Splash
in 1984. Later, the duo set up Imagine Entertainment, a film and television production company; Howard being the co-chairman of the company along with Grazer. The production house has since produced movies such as Cop and a Half (1993) , Apollo 13 (1995), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Cinderella Man (2005), American Gangster
(2008), and In the Heart of the Sea
(2015). Along with movies, the company has also produced several TV shows including 24: Redemption (2008), Lie To Me (2009 - `11), and Parenthood (2010 - `15).