‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Talked Growing Up on Film

by Jennifer Shea
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Happy Days star Ron Howard became famous for his roles as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days. And because those two roles spanned his childhood and adolescence, audiences across the globe got to watch him grow up on film.

In a 1974 interview on The Mike Douglas Show, Howard described how he got into acting when he was just a tyke by parroting lines during his father’s rehearsals. Howard’s late father, Rance, was an actor and a director. And he got his two sons into show business early.

“It’s kind of an interesting way to grow up,” Howard said of growing up on television. He added that he’s not the only actor in the family – his father and younger brother, Clint, both acted, as well. “It’s all we ever knew. I started doing scenes with my dad when I was like 2 ½… I used to sit around and watch [my dad’s] rehearsals. And I started picking up dialogue… I learned lines, and then we learned other scenes, and we did it for fun.”

“And so when I started doing it, when I was like 4, it was just a matter of doing it with other people,” Howard went on. “And I got a big kick out of it. I liked it.”

Watch the interview here:

Happy Days Star Has a New Book Out About His Childhood

Speaking of Howard’s childhood, the actor and director has a new memoir out that he co-wrote with Clint about their early years. Titled The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, the book grew out of the brothers’ grief over Rance’s death in 2017. But it was actor and director Tom Hanks who gave Ron the idea of writing a memoir with Clint.

“Tom was the one that said… ‘Write this book with your brother,’ which I appreciate,” Clint told MyBurbank.com earlier this month. “It’s been a wonderful experience for me.”

The boys’ parents, who were aspiring actors when they met at the University of Oklahoma, coached them in acting early. But they also sent the boys to public schools in Burbank, where the boys grew up, to give them a shot at normalcy.

“Burbank played a big part in this,” Clint added of his and his brother’s down-to-earth upbringing. “We did not go to private school… I went all through the system, and playing in the sports programs, it gave [Ron and me] a sense of normalcy that I think we both wanted. And my parents certainly encouraged it…We weren’t being treated with kid gloves at all. Burbank had a lot to do with the way things turned out for us, and also [being raised by] Mom and Dad.”

And now all these years later, the Howard boys can offer up their childhood as an example to other Hollywood parents of how to raise grounded kids in the midst of a crazy industry. Would that all child actors had it as good as the Howards.