Ron Howard’s Father Rance Was Drawn to Western Films: ‘He Fancied Himself a Cowboy’

by Madison Miller

Ron Howard, the son of Rance Howard, made a name for himself in the entertainment world.

He played Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Richie Cunningham in “Happy Days.” After his acting days, he took on more producing and directing roles in the industry. Ron worked on films like “Night Shift,” “Apollo 13,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Cinderella Man,” “The Da Vinci Code,” and “In the Heart of the Sea.”

He has an Academy Award for Best Director and Academy Award for Best Picture for his work on “A Beautiful Mind.”

As a father-son duo, both he and his father have had a tremendous impact on the entertainment world.

Rance Howard and Westerns

Ron Howard strayed away from that typical Western genre. Instead, his most recent work tends to be documentaries or drama films. When he was a kid he was tutored at Desilu Studios, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz’s company, before moving on with his education.

In an interview with Television Academy, Ron Howard talks about how his father had gotten into the Western world. The interview was conducted prior to Rance’s death in 2017. He passed away at the age of 89.

“My dad grew up on a farm, but his mother loved horses. They always did a bit of ranching also. So he kind of fancied himself a cowboy. Still, to this day, he’s a great writer and very comfortable around livestock.”

Rance Howard is most known for his role on projects like “Small Soldiers,” “Nebraska,” “Universal Soldier,” and “Far and Away.” He spent over 60 years in the business and was an actor, writer, and director.

He also had a career in many Western movies and shows like “Bat Masterson,” “The Virginian,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Waltons,” “Bonanza,” and “Little House on the Prairie.”

Ron Howard Relationship with Father

Ron and Rance Howard shared a passion for entertaining audiences.

At one point, Ron had left his acting days in the past and moved on to directing. In fact, he even directed films that his father starred in. Rance starred in both “A Beautiful Mind” and “Grand Theft Auto.”

He never had a problem taking direction from his son.

“Oh, it was easy, Ron is such a good communicator. He can explain to the actors what he’s looking for in the scene. He is just a dream director to work with. Some people may feel differently, but I don’t have any trouble saying to myself, ‘OK, Ron is a director. He’s your son and offstage or at home or on the basketball court, you don’t have to take his direction. But on the set he’s the director and whatever he says goes,'” Rance Howard said in an interview, according to Cowboys & Indians.

Rance had always allowed his children to follow their passions.

According to a Variety guest column from Ron and Clint Howard, Rance noticed how much Ron loved being at rehearsals and eventually allowed him to pursue acting professionally. Suddenly, acting had become a family business.

“Dad faced life and the travails of the entertainment business with enthusiasm, dignity, and fearlessness. For that, we’ll be forever grateful,” the two boys wrote.