Ron Howard and his brother Clint grew up in the limelight. The two began acting when they were young. And grew up as two of the most prominent Hollywood poster children of their time. But according to Ron and Clint’s new memoir, The Boys, which is available today, the siblings didn’t grow up like most child stars.
Ron Howard was six years old when he found instant fame as Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show. And his incredibly successful career continued through adolescents and adulthood. But despite being a big name in the industry, he wasn’t a vain party boy. Ron took his job seriously. He was so focused on being a great actor that the resulting stress caused his hair to start falling out while he was working on Happy Days.
So by the time that he was a young man playing Steve in American Graffiti, he didn’t have a lot of life experience—especially with women. And his 25-year-old costar Cindy Williams could tell. So she helped Ron Howard avoid being embarrassed during the couple’s first on-screen makeout.
“[Cindy] sensed, correctly, that her eighteen-year-old acting partner was inexperienced at kissing scenes and a bundle of nerves about performing them,” he wrote in the book. ” ‘We can’t kiss for the first time on camera,’ she said. ‘We better practice.’'”
So Cindy gave Ron some tips before shooting their scene. And The actor remembers Cindy being entirely professional and mature about the situation.
“With the professionalism of Hollywood’s intimacy coordinators … Cindy taught me how to make out convincingly for the camera without overstepping,” he continued. “She was not interested in me romantically, nor I in her. Cindy performed this service out of generosity, saving me from embarrassment.”
Tom Hanks Helped Inspire Ron Howard’s New Memoir
For years leading up to the release of The Boys, Clint and Ron Howard had been propositioned to write a book about their illustrious Hollywood careers. But it took decades for the idea to come to fruition. And in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Ron revealed that his friend Tom Hanks was the person who helped the brothers finally put pen to paper.
Ron Howard was interested in getting his acting and directing wisdom immortalized on paper. But he didn’t know if it was a good idea. So he asked Tom Hanks what he thought about the project.
“You’ve had a fascinating life,” Hanks told Ron. “But if you ever do write about it, I would focus on your childhood.”
The Apollo 13 director said that people always asked him about growing up on television. And Tom Hanks was one of the people who asked that question time and time again. In fact, Hanks loved “sitting around on the set” listening to stories about Ron’s childhood.
So The Boys ending up being an answer for Tom Hanks and all the other people who were so interested in Ron and Clint’s past.
“What really pulled [the book] together was the opportunity to use our past and use those anecdotes that look backward and all the humor and the nostalgia of that to tell a family story about our very unique parents,” he added. “And the very unique way in which they helped us navigate — to answer the Tom Hanks question — what was it like growing up on television. It was all about being Rance and Jean Howard’s kids. …”