‘Happy Days’: The Two Reasons Why Ron Howard Never Wanted to Direct an Episode of the Hit Series

by Clayton Edwards

Fans of classic TV remember Ron Howard as the star of two of the biggest shows in TV history. Today, he is also an award-winning director. However, that wouldn’t have happened without the television shows that shaped him as a filmmaker.

First, there was the Andy Griffith Show. That role had a major impact on Howard’s life. First, it introduced him to TV audiences around the country. Also, it helped him develop his acting chops. At the same time, it showed him that he wanted to be a director one day.

Then, there was Happy Days. That series helped to propel Ron Howard to new heights of fame. It showed the world a more grown-up version of the child actor from The Andy Griffith Show. By the time the show ended, Howard had already directed his first feature-length film.

Last December, Ron Howard appeared on the SmartLess podcast. During the interview, he talked about his career and how he got his start as a director. At one point, he discussed why he never wanted to direct an episode of Happy Days.

Ron Howard Never Directed Happy Days for These Reasons

One of the SmartLess hosts asked Ron Howard if he ever directed any episodes of Happy Days. He didn’t. However, Howard said that he was offered the director’s chair on the series more than once. The showrunners knew he wanted to direct. In fact, he was in film school when the series started. Howard said that he left film school to do the series. At the time, though, he thought it would be a short gig. He said, “I thought it would be a one-year gig. Because, how many series really run?”

However, directing Happy Days just wasn’t something that he wanted to do. There were two main reasons for this.

The first reason that Ron Howard never wanted to direct Happy Days was his admiration for Jerry Paris. Paris directed the bulk of the series. In fact, he directed all but 21 of the show’s 250+ episodes, according to IMDb. Howard said, “Jerry Paris was such a genius. In all honesty, I never wanted to rob the rest of the cast of a week with Jetty.”

The other reason had more to do with his own career. Ron Howard said, “The other thing was that I was wise enough to know that if I did a good job on a 3-camera episode of Happy Days… it wasn’t going to be a giant feather in my cap toward my real dream.” His goal was to direct single-camera productions.