‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Shares Moving Story About His Parents’ Last Trip to New York

by Samantha Whidden

More than 20 years after his mother Jean Howard passed away, “Happy Days” star Ron Howard reflects on his parents’ last trip to New York City before Jean’s death. 

While speaking to Kate and Oliver Hudson on their Sibling Revelry podcast, Ron Howard spoke about his parents and their last New York City trip before his mom’s passing in 2000. “One of the things that [my mom] wanted to do was go back to New York and see New York again. So Dad took her back.”

However, when his parents went to visit the apartment they previously lived in, Ron Howard said they were met with a surprise. “They pulled up – and this is so much like a movie or a Dickens novel – [they see] literally a wrecking ball swinging through the air. Taking the building out!”

The classic TV actor turned filmmaker also said that while he thought it was a not-so-great situation to experience, his late mom felt differently. “Here’s my mom’s vibe. I said, ‘Mom, were you disappointed by that?’ And she said, ‘Oh, no, we felt really lucky… lucky that we got to be the last ones to see it.”

Ron Howard’s mother passed away on September 2, 2000, from a heart and respiratory illness. She was 73-years-old at the time. 

Ron Howard’s Mother Reportedly Gave Up Her Acting Career to Raise Him and His Brother 

According to Ron Howard, his mother actually gave up her acting career to raise him and his brother, Clint. While speaking to Tulsa World in 2020, Howard stated, “Once we were raised, she decided to dip her toe back in. My dad said she was the best actor at OU, that she was that talented.”

While discussing the roles that his mom went up for, Ron Howard stated “And then she comes back, and she becomes the new ‘little old lady’ in the sitcom world. Working with a little bit of everybody and becoming very popular. And my dad just said, ‘I told you, boys.’”

Ron Howard also spoke about giving his mom the role of Blanch Lovell, the mom of  Tom Hanks’ character Jim Lovell in “Apollo 13” at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival. “Didn’t want to do [the audition] at the office. So I said I’d come by the house and we’d read through the scene. And we went through it a couple of times and she made me cry just because I was proud of her as a son and also because I knew that she could do it, and this was an opportunity. And it was just one or two takes on the day of shooting, but it was a great moment.”