‘Happy Days’ Legend Ron Howard Was Once a Contestant on ‘The Dating Game’

by Suzanne Halliburton

Ron Howard once made an appearance in a 1970s-version of a reality show. Remember the “Dating Game?” Think of it as a scaled-down version of “The Bachelor.”

Howard was a celebrity guest on the daily show in 1971. This was post-Opie and “Andy Griffith Show” and three years before Richie Cunningham and “Happy Days.” At the time, Ron Howard co-starred on “The Smith Family.” That show featured Henry Fonda, who played a police detective in Los Angeles. Howard was his teen-aged son, Bob.

So ABC, which had the show in its lineup from 1965-73, trotted out Ron Howard for a Dating Game appearance for a cross-promotion. Jim Lange hosted the show. A single man or woman would ask questions to three strangers sitting behind a screen. Chuck Barris produced the show. You may remember Barris as the host of the Gong Show. But back in the day, he worked behind the camera, also producing The Newlywed Game, which usually ran back-to-back with the dating show for bachelor and bachelorettes.

Ron Howard Picked A Date; He Likely Already Was In Love

Howard selected bachelorette No. 2, Nola Greene. Their date was a boat trip to Catalina.

If there was any romance for Howard-Greene, it didn’t last long. Howard met his future wife when they both were in high school. He married Cheryl Alley in 1975 when they both were 21. They’ve been married since then and are the parents of four children, including actress Bryce Dallas Howard.

Ron Howard talked about his relationship with Huffington Post. He said: “I felt really lucky when we met. It’s crazy — we were teenagers, it shouldn’t have worked. We got married young, that shouldn’t have worked either, and yet it really and truly has.”

ABC announced last week it was reviving and reimagining The Dating Game. Actress Zooey Deschanel and singer Michael Bolton will co-host the show. Plans are for each episode to feature a celebrity guest bachelor or bachelorette. He or she will pick from three contestants solely based on answers to the celebrity’s questions. Identities won’t be revealed until after the celebrity makes the pick.

The classic Dating Game usually featured normal young men and women. Normal, in this case, meant people who weren’t famous. But sometimes, there were celebrities like Ron Howard. The show also featured actress Sally Field, singers Michael Jackson and Dusty Springfield. Future celebrities also appeared on the show, including Burt Reynolds, Farrah Fawcett, Suzanne Somers and Steve Martin.

Lange, the host, introduced Fawcett, the future Charlie’s Angels star, was introduced as “an accomplished artist and sculptress.”

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