Ron Howard: Child Star Strikes Gold

Ron Howard pictured as Opie and as a director many years later has had an excellent career after being Opie on the Andy Griffith show and Richie on Happy Days and is now one of the best directors in Hollywood.

After posting some tragic stories of child stars who failed to succeed as an adults in the entertainment industry and in their personal lives it is only fair to tell the story of Ron Howard who has been a success at every level of the television and movie industry. He truly has struck gold and should be worth millions of dollars today.

He was born in Duncan,Oklahoma on March 1, 1954 and would be in his first movie named Frontier Woman at the age of two. He would go on to make 26 appearances in television and movies before becoming Opie on the Andy Griffith Show from 1960-1968 where he grew up from a six year old to being 14 by the end of the 210 episode run.

His next series was the Smith Family from 1971-1972 appearing in 39 episodes. The next year he would appear in American Graffiti as Steve Bolander which is a movie I can identify with since it was based on some high school graduates on their last night together in 1962 the same year I graduated from high school.

Richie Cunningham on Happy Days

Then in 1974 he took the role as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. There were 171 episodes made of the show from 1974-1984. Richie would play a teenager although he was 20 when the show started and was 30 when the last episode was aired.

By the age of 30 Howard had been on three shows that had aired 420 episodes while they were on weekly television. Most actors are fortunate to have been in one successful series but he was in two wildly successful series in Andy Griffith and Happy Days.

After the Happy Days run ended Howard acted very little and did more voice work than acting work since then.

Grand Theft Auto Huge Hit

He was directing movies as early as 1969 at the age of 25 but his big break came when he directed Grand Theft Auto in 1977 at the age of 33. The movie cost $602,000 to make but reaped $15 million worldwide at the box office.

Night Shift would gross $23 million in 1982. Then in 1984 Splash cost $8 million to make but the movie made over $6 million the first weekend and would earn $62 million in the United States.

Parenthood First Howard Movie To Gross $100 Million

He directed Cocoon which was released in 1985 and earned a gross of over $76 million. Howard had another hit in Parenthood which grossed $100 million in 1989.

Apollo 13 was a huge success at the box office. It cost $62 million to produce but grossed $172 million in the U.S. and earned another $92 million in video rentals. The movie would gross $334 million worldwide including the totals for the U.S.

Produced, Directed And Wrote Movies

Howard is credited with producing 53 movies and television shows and has directed 28 films. He also wrote such hits as Grand Theft Auto and Parenthood and a less successful Far and Away.

It is good to know that Howard never encountered the problems of many child stars that couldn’t get other roles after their initial success. Howard was not only a good actor but excelled at writing, producing and directing.

Howard is 55 today and could retire today if he wanted to but he is not likely to be retiring anytime soon.


Author: Andrew Godfrey

Retired from newspaper work after 38 years. Had served in the Army in Hawaii and Vietnam in the 60's. Am now retired and living in Sulphur, Louisiana.

4 thoughts on “Ron Howard: Child Star Strikes Gold”

  1. Very nice. Ron Howard always was a favorite actor, and the movies he’s directed and produced are standouts of my generation.

  2. Ron Howard is one of the few Hollywood people I totally respect from Andy Griffith to him directing and producing movies.

    I remember him from Music Man singing Gary Indiana…not Louisiana…Paris France or Rome but Gary Indiana my home sweet home. And him singing Sompin speshul with a lisp.

  3. I can’t wait till his new show Parenthood starts in March – the previews were on the Thanksgiving parade and look really good!

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