Ronald William Howard (born March 1, 1954) is an American filmmaker and actor. Howard first came to prominence as a child actor, guest-starring in several television series, including an episode of The Twilight Zone. His first credited film role was in Anatole Litvak’s The Journey (1959), with Deborah Kerr, Yul Brynner, Jason Robards and Robert Morley. He gained national attention for playing young Opie Taylor, the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show from 1960 through 1968. During this time, he also appeared in the musical film The Music Man (1962), a critical and commercial success, Vincente Minnelli‘s The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963), with Glenn Ford. He was credited as Ronny Howard in his films from 1959 to 1973.
Howard was cast in one of the lead roles in George Lucas‘s coming-of-age film American Graffiti (1973), with Richard Dreyfuss, Paul Le Mat, Harrison Ford, Charles Martin Smith, Cindy Williams, Candy Clark, Mackenzie Phillips, Bo Hopkins, and Wolfman Jack; which received widespread acclaim and became one of the most profitable films of all time. The following year, Howard became a household name for playing Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days, a role he would play from 1974 through 1980.
Howard continued appearing in films during this time, such as The Spikes Gang (1974), with Lee Marvin; the western film Don Siegel‘s The Shootist (1976), the final film of screen legend John Wayne (it also starred James Stewart and Lauren Bacall), and the comedy film Grand Theft Auto (1977), which also marked his directorial debut. He, like many other filmmakers, started his career under the mentorship of prolific filmmaker/producer, Roger Corman.
In 1980, Howard left Happy Days to focus on directing. His early films include Night Shift (1982), with Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, and Shelley Long; Splash (1984), with Tom Hanks, Daryl Hannah, John Candy, and Eugene Levy; Cocoon (1985), with Don Ameche, Wilford Brimley, Hume Cronyn, Brian Dennehy, Jack Gilford, Steve Guttenberg, Maureen Stapleton, Jessica Tandy, Gwen Verdon, Herta Ware, Tahnee Welch, and Linda Harrison; Gung Ho (1986), with Keaton, Gedde Watanabe, George Wendt, John Turturro, and Mimi Rogers; Willow (1988), with Warwick Davis and Val Kilmer; and Parenthood (1989), with Steve Martin, Tom Hulce, Rick Moranis, Martha Plimpton, Leaf Phoenix, Keanu Reeves, Jason Robards, Mary Steenburgen, and Dianne Wiest.
Films in the 90s include Backdraft (1991), with Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Scott Glenn, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Rebecca De Mornay, Donald Sutherland, Robert De Niro, Jason Gedrick, and J.T. Walsh; Far and Away (1992), with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman; The Paper (1994), with Keaton, Glenn Close, Marisa Tomei, Randy Quaid and Robert Duvall; Apollo 13 (1995), with Hanks, Kevin Bacon, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris and Gary Sinise; Ransom (1996), with Mel Gibson, Rene Russo, Sinise, Delroy Lindo, Liev Schreiber, Evan Handler, Donnie Wahlberg, and Lili Taylor; and EDtv (1999), with Matthew McConaughey, Jenna Elfman, Woody Harrelson, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Landau, Rob Reiner, Sally Kirkland, Elizabeth Hurley, Clint Howard, and Dennis Hopper.
Later films include How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000), with Jim Carrey; A Beautiful Mind (2001), with Russell Crowe, Harris, Jennifer Connelly, Paul Bettany, Adam Goldberg, Judd Hirsch, Josh Lucas, Anthony Rapp, and Christopher Plummer; The Missing (2003), with Tommy Lee Jones and Cate Blanchett; Cinderella Man (2005), with Crowe, Renée Zellweger, and Paul Giamatti; The Da Vinci Code (2006), with Hanks, Audrey Tautou, Ian McKellen, Alfred Molina, Jürgen Prochnow, Jean Reno, and Bettany; Frost/Nixon (2008), with Frank Langella, Michael Sheen, Bacon, Rebecca Hall, Toby Jones, Matthew Macfadyen, Oliver Platt, and Sam Rockwell; and Angels & Demons (2009), with Hanks, Ewan McGregor, Ayelet Zurer, Stellan Skarsgård, Pierfrancesco Favino, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, and Armin Mueller-Stahl. For A Beautiful Mind, he won the Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture.
Films in the 2010s include The Dilemma (2011), with Vince Vaughn, Kevin James, Jennifer Connelly, Winona Ryder, Channing Tatum, and Queen Latifah; Rush (2013), with Chris Hemsworth, Daniel Brühl, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, and Pierfrancesco Favino; In the Heart of the Sea (2015), with Hemsworth, Benjamin Walker, Cillian Murphy, Tom Holland, Ben Whishaw, and Brendan Gleeson; Inferno (2016), with Hanks Felicity Jones, Omar Sy, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Ben Foster, and Irrfan Khan; Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), with Alden Ehrenreich, Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, Donald Glover, Thandie Newton, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, Joonas Suotamo, and Bettany, and Hillbilly Elegy (2020), with Glenn Close, Amy Adams, Gabriel Basso, Haley Bennett, Freida Pinto, Bo Hopkins.
In 2003, Howard was awarded the National Medal of Arts. He was inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 2013. Howard has two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for his contributions in the television and motion pictures industries.
Each review will be linked to the title below.
(*seen originally in theaters)
(**seen rereleased in theaters)
- Grand Theft Auto (1977) – also co-writer, actor
- Night Shift (1982) – uncredited actor
- Splash (1984)
- Cocoon (1985)
- Gung Ho (1986)
- Willow (1988)
- Parenthood (1989)
- Backdraft (1991)
- Far and Away (1992)
- The Paper (1994)
- Apollo 13 (1995)*
- Ransom (1996)
- EDtv (1999)
- How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)* – uncredited actor
- A Beautiful Mind (2001) – uncredited actor
- The Missing (2003)
- Cinderella Man (2005)
- The Da Vinci Code (2006)
- Frost/Nixon (2008)
- Angels & Demons (2009)
- The Dilemma (2011)
- Rush (2013)
- In the Heart of the Sea (2015)
- Inferno (2016)
- Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018)*
- Hillbilly Elegy (2020)
- Frontier Woman (1956) – directed by Ron Ormond – uncredited
- The Journey (1959) – directed by Anatole Litvak
- Five Minutes to Live (1961) – directed by Bill Karn
- The Music Man (1961) – directed by Morton DaCosta
- The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1963) – directed by Vincente Minnelli
- Village of the Giants (1965) – directed by Bert I. Gordon
- The Wild Country (1970) – directed by Robert Totten
- American Graffiti (1973)** – directed by George Lucas
- Happy Mother’s Day, Love George (1973) – directed by Darren McGavin
- The Spikes Gang (1974) – directed by Richard Fleischer
- The First Nudie Musical (1976) – directed by Mark Haggard & Bruce Kimmel – uncredited
- Eat My Dust! (1976) – directed by Charles B. Griffith
- The Shootist (1976) – directed by Don Siegel
- More American Graffiti (1979) – directed by Bill L. Norton
- Welcome to Hollywood (1998) – directed by Tony Markes & Adam Rifkin – cameo as himself
- The Independent (2000) – directed by Stephen Kessler – cameo as himself
- Osmosis Jones (2001)* – directed Bobby & Peter Farrelly brothers (live action) and Piet Kroon & Tom Sito (animation)
- From Up on Poppy Hill (2011) – directed by Gorō Miyazaki – English dub – uncredited