‘Happy Days’: One Actress Said Cast Had ‘No Idea’ Ron Howard Would Become a Hollywood Legend

by Jennifer Shea
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Marion Ross played Marion Cunningham, Richie Cunningham’s mother, on “Happy Days.” And while she was working on the sitcom, Ross said she had no idea that Richie actor Ron Howard would go on to become such a Hollywood star. Neither did the rest of the cast.

Howard has excelled as a director and a producer. Thus far, he’s won two Oscars, four Emmys, two Golden Globes, a Grammy and the National Medal of Arts.

“He was a famous little child actor, but really, no,” Ross told Smashing Interviews in 2018. “I had no idea he would zoom past all of us and become one of the most important men in this town.”

Ron Howard Went on to Become a Hollywood Star

“I was an actor who dreamed of being a director,” Howard told People magazine in 2019 of his early days.

“Happy Days” lasted until 1980, and after it ended, Howard pursued a directing career. He went on to helm such projects as “Night Shift,” “Splash” and “Parenthood,” according to Britannica. “Apollo 13” came a bit later, followed by “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.”

In 1986, Howard and Brian Grazer cofounded Imagine Entertainment, a production company. The company produced such popular TV shows as “24,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Arrested Development” and “Genius.”

Apple recently stuck a lucrative first-look deal with Imagine Entertainment that would see the latter produce a batch of scripted features for Apple to stream, per The Hollywood Reporter.  

After ‘Happy Days,’ Marion Ross Had a Successful TV Career

While Ross also appeared in some feature films, she really made her mark in television. After “Happy Days,” she appeared on TV shows like “Father Knows Best,” “Ironside,” “The Love Boat,” “The Drew Carey Show,” “Gilmore Girls” and “Hot in Cleveland.”

While “Happy Days” focused mainly on the kids, and Ross only got a small part on the show, she told Smashing Interviews that that didn’t bother her. Indeed, she said that just made her work harder during the script readings on Monday mornings, so the writers would write better lines for her.

“I tell you, I was so grateful to have the job,” she explained. “It’s a tough business, and I was divorced. I had two children to raise. I was lucky to have the job and to have the show become such a hit. So I was lucky.”

Fans of “Happy Days” might wonder what they can look forward to seeing Ross in next. Well, unfortunately, she says her acting days are behind her.

But she’s written a book about her career, “My Days: Happy and Otherwise.” And her kids have gone into the business. Her daughter is working on a pilot. Her son has acted in a Geico commercial.

“I’m now 89,” Ross said. “I am retired, but I have had a wonderful life in this business.”

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