Though there are elements of a career in Hollywood that are just as glamorous as they appear, it’s undeniable that it’s an unforgiving environment, especially for child actors. That fact remains true to this day, but it’s not nearly as damaging at it used to be. Parents and producers have learned from the past and now take steps to protect young stars from inappropriate situations.
Back in the ’60s, however, those safeguards had not yet been put into place. And for a child on the set of a classic TV series Hollywood, it was a bit like the wild West. Anything could happen, and finding yourself in an uncomfortable environment wasn’t uncommon.
In The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, a book written alongside his brother, Clint Howard, Andy Griffith Show star Ron Howard recalled such occurrences happening to him. But his parents were ahead of their time, and always did what they could to protect their then 6-year-old son from falling victim to what’s now known as the “child star curse.”
“What spared Ron and me from becoming Hollywood casualties are the values Mom and Dad instilled in us,” Clint shared in the introduction. “We were grinders and scrappers. Showbiz may seem glamorous, but each battle is won in the trenches with heavy doses of perspiration and preparation.”
‘The Andy Griffith Show’ Stars Clint and Ron Howard Discuss Their Parents’ Protectiveness
Both Ron and Clint Howard credit their parents with their relatively normal adult lives. Although they’ve experienced plenty of stresses, both personally and professionally, neither fell into the habits of alcoholism and drug abuse that trap so many child stars.
As a child star, Clint Howard had what he calls a “dark decade” in his life, but his parents never abandoned him. On the contrary, they always “did their best” to help him. He calls them “the cone consistent positive” in his life, even through the most difficult times.
“Mom and Dad never lived outside of their means,” Clint Howard wrote. “(Dad) said that if we kids had ever gotten the idea that we were the household’s breadwinners, it would have messed up the family dynamic… Preserving a sense of normalcy was a top priority for Dad.”
Ron Howard was well on his way to becoming a millionaire by the age of 12. However, he never felt compelled to brag about his lifestyle. Thanks to his parents, he stayed humble and continued to work toward his goals. And because he valued these goals more than money, his dreams of directing eventually came true.
“I looked to my parents,” Ron Howard wrote. “I saw how they chose to live and how happy they were. And I redoubled my efforts to keep on working, to stay in show business beyond my boyhood. Not just because the money was good, but because I recognized how much I truly loving acting and learning about directing.”