Ron Howard’s Dad, Rance Howard, Helped Win His Movie Debut By Doing This

by Emily Morgan

Ron Howard, known for starring in shows like “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show,” acted even before he could talk. Yet, his career may have never been as successful if it weren’t for his father and fellow actor Rance Howard

Before becoming one of Hollywood’s most successful directors and actors, Ron Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma. However, long before he was born, his father was a veteran in the industry. Before Rance passed away in 2017, he starred in over 300 film and television shows.

Before he and his wife Jean welcomed Ron, he got his start acting in theater before his first film role. According to Rance, when he starred in his first movie when Ron Howard was 18 months old, he impressed the director so much that he let him bring someone special to star alongside him.

“It was called Frontier Woman in 1956, filmed in Mississippi, and about Daniel Boone’s daughter, Polly,” recalled Howard. “Jean also had a part and we wanted to somehow get Ron into the picture, too. He was only 18 months old, but we thought it would be wonderful for our parents to see their grandson in a movie with us.”

Howard mentioned the idea to the director, but he turned it down. “He said he couldn’t be bothered.” However, he changed his tune once he saw him perform. After seeing him commit to the role, the director included Ron Howard in a scene. 

Ron Howard Has His Father to Thank for Kicking Starting His Career

“My character gets shot then plunges off a balcony. The director asked if I could do the stunt,” recalled Howard. “I did it, and he was so pleased he told me to bring Ron the next day and would work him into the movie.”

“He wanted someone in the crowd to distract the political speech and asked if we could make Ron cry. So I thought about it. There were a couple of Native American boys from the Pearl River Reservation who were working in the film. Ron had become fascinated by one of their prop tomahawks and would bawl whenever it was taken away from him.”

“Just before the camera comes around to Jean and Ron, one of the boys snatches the tomahawk away and Ron begins to howl,” recalled Howard. “The politician stops, comes over to Jean and says ‘You’d better take that baby home lady, I think he’s sick.’ That was Ron’s introduction to movie making!”

According to his father, he knew his son would have a huge career in Hollywood.”He was always amazing, able to learn dialog even when he was around 3 years old. He had really good concentration and just loved it.”