HomeEntertainment‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Reflects on Discovering Michael Keaton in First Major Hollywood Movie

‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Reflects on Discovering Michael Keaton in First Major Hollywood Movie

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Toni Anne Barson/WireImage/Getty Images)

When Ron Howard was casting “Night Shift,” he gave an actor named Michael Keaton his first shot in a major Hollywood film.

Turns out that Keaton would go on and star in movies like “Beetlejuice” and “Batman.” How did Howard discover him for a role in the movie he was directing?

Howard, appearing with his brother, Clint Howard, on “The Drew Barrymore Show,” talked about how “Night Shift” came together.

“(Lowell) Ganz and (Babaloo) Mandel, who were ‘Happy Days’ writers and showrunners, and brilliant comedy writers, took it and they ran with it,” Ron Howard told Barrymore. “Somehow, they shaped something that was a little sexy, a little naughty, very raucous, and still utterly human. And connected to love and respect.

“Henry Winkler got it green lit by agreeing to be in it and then Michael Keaton was discovered through it and it was a joy,” he said.

Take a look at the Howards chatting with Drew Barrymore.

Ron Howard Movie ‘Night Shift’ Was Produced By Creative Partner Brian Grazer

“Night Shift” was produced by Howard’s creative partner, Brian Grazer. In the 1982 film, Winkler played Chuck Lumley, who took a job as an attendant at a New York City morgue.

Keaton played Bill “Blaze” Blazejowski, who is Lumley’s co-worker on the night shift at the morgue. Lumley’s neighbor Belinda, played by Shelley Long, is a prostitute. One thing leads to another and, Outsiders, we see Chuck and “Blaze” turning the morgue into a prostitution service place.

The budget for “Night Shift” reportedly was $8.1 million. It reportedly totaled box office receipts at $21.1 million.

Oh yes, Clint Howard did have a role in this movie as Jeffrey.

Two other names from this movie’s cast are worth naming. Richard Belzer, a stellar stand-up comic before his “Law & Order” days, played Pig. Kevin Costner also has a bit part as Frat Boy No. 1.

Howard Let Winkler Know How He Felt About Shift in ‘Happy Days’ Star Power

In mentioning Winkler in his comments to Barrymore, Ron Howard addressed his “Happy Days” co-star with respect.

There was a time, though, when both actors chatted as Winkler’s character Arthur Fonzarelli, or “The Fonz,” started getting more star power than Howard.

Both actors did have some anxiety over Fonzie being more popular than Riche Cunningham, Ron’s part.

They did chat at the Dude Ranch, where Fonzie rode a bucking bull. In going home, Winkler wanted to give Ron a chance to shoot straight.

Howard reportedly said this to Winkler: “Look, I was hired as the star of the show. You didn’t do anything other than just be yourself and the tide shifted. It hurt my feelings, but you are my very good friend. It’s good for the show.”