‘Happy Days’ Creator Garry Marshall Acted in Ron Howard’s Film Directing Debut

by Joe Rutland

When “Happy Days” star Ron Howard would make his directing debut in 1977, he asked some friends to join the cast. Garry Marshall signed up.

Marshall was the creative genius behind the ABC sitcom. Yet Howard, who played Richie Cunningham, was seeing a childhood dream come true with “Grand Theft Auto.” The movie, which depicts a couple [Howard and Nancy Morgan] committing grand theft auto, found a place for Marshall.

He plays the “Underworld Boss” and, get this, receives a film credit as “Gary K. Marshall.” By the way, Marshall also was an actor himself before getting into behind-the-scenes work on television and movies. “Happy Days” would have Howard as its main cast member for 7 of its 11 seasons.

‘Happy Days’ Star’s First Movie Raked In $15 Million At Box Office

That movie cost $603,000 to make. Want to know what it earned at the box office? $15 million. We could probably go ahead, after all these years, and call it a success. Reviewers weren’t too fond of the movie but, as sports fans might say, scoreboard.

A few other familiar names also found themselves in Howard’s first movie as a director. Howard’s father Rance and brother Clint, along with “Happy Days” costar Marion Ross, were in the cast.

Ron Howard also got a nice boost in getting “Grand Theft Auto” on movie screens as Roger Corman and his New World Pictures produced the film. Corman made a deal with Howard, who could direct a movie but had to star in Corman’s picture “Eat My Dust!”

Marshall himself also directed movies like “Pretty Woman,” “Beaches,” “The Princess Diaries,” and “New Year’s Eve.”

Garry Marshall died on July 19, 2016, at 81 years old.

Howard Saw His Directorial Career Soar After Initial Success

Howard would go on and direct other films. “Splash,” “Apollo 13,” “Cocoon,” “Willow,” and “The Da Vinci Code” are just a few of his big-screen flicks. He did win an Academy Award as “Best Director” for his work on “A Beautiful Mind.”

For rock music fans, Howard helped put together “The Beatles: Eight Days A Week.” Opera fans, too, get a nod from him in his 2019 film documentary “Pavarotti” about the life of singer Luciano Pavarotti.

So, the young boy who used to make Super 8 movies with his camera now uses large movie cameras to make those films come alive.

Here’s to Ron Howard, who reached his dreams not only on the big screen but small screen, too. In fact, Howard has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his television and movie accomplishments.

He’ll always have a place, though, in the hearts of classic TV fans. They not only remember him from “Happy Days” but, obviously, from his childhood role as Opie on “The Andy Griffith Show.”