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September 21, 2021

Remembering Rance Howard, Famous for His Roles in 'Gunsmoke' and 'Bonanza'

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Rance Howard is an actor known for his appearance on the classics "Gunsmoke and "Bonanza." He lived a long and fruitful life until his passing on November 25, 2017. 

Rance Howard died of natural causes in Los Angeles, California, almost four years ago. The 89-year-old man was one of the great character actors of Hollywood's Golden Era, working in Hollywood for nearly 70 years. 

Rance's career started in theater in New York back in 1948, when he was just 20 years old. His passion led him to Hollywood, and in the 1950s, he appeared in the famous Western series like "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza."

Rance Howard and wife Judy Howard at the TCL Chinese Theatre on November 11, 2013 in Hollywood, California | Source: Getty Images

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A STABLE CAREER

Later, Howard went on to star in movies like "Cool Hand Luke" and the 1974 cult classic "Chinatown." Despite being a constant in the entertainment industry, he was not one to experience overflowing wealth, as shared by his granddaughter. 

Bryce Dallas Howard touched on this during an interview, saying:

“He’s never made the money that people dream of, and yet he’s carved out this incredibly unique and remarkable and beautiful career of a character actor."

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HIS FAMOUS WORK

While he more recently starred on crowd favorites like "NCIS: Los Angeles," "Grey's Anatomy," and "ER," he actually appeared on "Bonanza" during the show's 14-season stint. Because of the show's success, they ended up turning the series into TV movies in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Born Harold Engle Beckenholdt, Rance decided to change his name when he got into acting. Through the years, he's had many notable appearances, yet he remained a family man to his close-knit family.

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HIS PERSONAL LIFE

The film director married actress Jean Speegle in 1949, at just 21, and the two went on to found one of the most solid and successful show business dynasties. They had two sons: Ron and Clint Howard.

After their separation in the year 2000, the actor went on to marry Judith Anne Jacobson, who went by the name Judy Howard. They were married until her death on July 17, 2017, just four months before Rance passed away.

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HIS SONS

Both of Rance's sons followed in their parents’ footsteps, with Ron becoming a household name in the industry through the hit series "Happy Days." His films include "Cocoon," "Apollo 13," and the movie "A Beautiful Mind," for which he won an Academy Award for Best Director and Best Picture respectively.

Rance’s second son Clint followed in his footsteps as a character actor. He also ventured into music through his rock band. A new generation of the Howard family is now rising to take up Rance's example: his two granddaughters, Bryce and Paige.

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HIS GROWING FAMILY

When Rance passed away, his children wrote a touching message on social media saying they "have been blessed to be Rance Howard's sons." They remembered his ability to balance ambition with personal integrity and his passion for acting which ultimately changed the course of their family history.

Bryce Dallas Howard is not just a film actress but is already a respected director, producer, and writer. Paige Howard, on the other hand, is a theater, television, and film actress.

Rance has left a great legacy through his rigorous work ethic. He passed this on alongside his talent to his sons and continues to inspire many in the industry. 

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