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Ron Howard Was Not a ‘Trained Animal’ but Was Mistreated & ‘Didn’t Feel Safe’ as Child Actor

Titi Dokubo
Nov 17, 2021
09:20 P.M.
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Now one of the best directors in Hollywood, Ron Howard made his first major mark in Hollywood as a child actor on "The Andy Griffith Show."


On the show, he played Opie, the son of Sheriff Andy Taylor played by Andy Griffith. The show aired from 1960 to 1968 with 249 half-hour episodes.

Despite being a child star, Ron Howard revealed that he didn't feel safe as he became a "magnet for bullies." Here's a look at how Ron grew up and his time on the show.

Ron Howard at the IMDb Studio at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020, in Utah (left), Andy Griffith, Jim Nabors, Ron Howard, and Don Knotts in "The Andy Griffith Show" circa 1963 (right) | Photo: Getty Images

Ron Howard at the IMDb Studio at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival on January 24, 2020, in Utah (left), Andy Griffith, Jim Nabors, Ron Howard, and Don Knotts in "The Andy Griffith Show" circa 1963 (right) | Photo: Getty Images



Ronald William Howard was born on March 1, 1954. His mother, Jean Speegle Howard, was an actress, and his father, Rance Howard, was a director, actor, and writer.

When he was four, his family moved to Hollywood, where they lived for at least three years before moving to Burbank. He was initially being tutored at Desilu Studios in his younger days.

After changing schools a couple of times, he graduated from John Burroughs High School. To further his education, he attended but did not graduate from the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

Ron Howard at the red carpet of the movie "Pavarotti" during the 14th Rome Film Fest at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 18, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

Ron Howard at the red carpet of the movie "Pavarotti" during the 14th Rome Film Fest at Auditorium Parco Della Musica on October 18, 2019 | Photo: Getty Images

Ron started his career in the entertainment industry when he was only 18 months old. His first movie was the 1956 "Frontier Woman." By the time he turned two, he had made his stage debut in a production of "The Seven Year Itch."


He has since appeared in episodes of "The DuPont Show with June Allyson," "Dennis the Menace," "The Twilight Zone," "The Cheyenne Show," and "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis."

In 1960 he proved his acting skills and got cast as Opie Taylor's character on "The Andy Griffith Show." He played the main character's son for all eight seasons of the series.


He didn't stop with the show as he appeared in other movies and series. In 1962, he starred in the film version of "The Music Man" and the movie "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" in 1963.

As an adult, one of his first roles was in George Lucas' coming-of-age movie "American Graffiti" in 1973. He also starred in "Happy Days" and the 1976 series "The Shootist."

His last major acting role was a revival of his famous role as Opie Taylor in the 1986 TV movie "Return to Mayberry," a reunion of "The Andy Griffith Show."



Before he joined the show, which debuted in 1960, Ron's father made sure he knew it was entirely up to him whether he wanted to act or not.

His parents took the time to explain the seriousness of his decision to him. They also let him know that he could say no anytime since he hadn't signed the contract.

When the show debuted on CBS in 1960, Ron was only six years old. However, he faced one major challenge. He had proven his acting skills, but he couldn't read his scripts.


His father, being an actor, was able to teach him his lines. Ron was not the only child actor in the family. His younger brother, Clint, was also an actor.

Besides teaching Ron his lines, Rance was also able to help his sons learn a good, solid foundation in acting. Their parents also helped to keep them safe and grounded during their Hollywood upbringing.

Ron and Clint have a lot to be thankful for as young stars who have made it through the perils of Hollywood with minimal scarring.


Ron revealed what took place on the show in the book "The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family," which he co-wrote with Clint. He revealed that he was treated with empathy and kindness.

Even though he had become a star of the show, Ron eventually became a "magnet for bullies" at school. He even recalled that for a while, he didn't feel safe going to the bathroom.


Things became worse, and one day he publicly wet himself. Despite the rough times, his parents still asked him to stay in school for another year.

Having grown up around adults on the show, Ron grew up faster than normal kids. Also, spending time with the adults made him realize that fun and hard work don't have to be opposing forces.


He also learned the spirit of collaboration from his TV father, Griffith. Despite their age difference, they remained friends till Griffith passed. Griffith once said:

"Ronny never considered me a father figure — he considered me his friend."

Years after "The Andy Griffith Show" ended, its impact is still being felt worldwide. The wholesome and benevolent portrayal of the life of the Taylor family resonated with audiences at the time.



Ron made his debut as a director in 1977 with a low-budget comedy action film "Grand Theft Auto" from a script he and his father had written. Between 1978 and 1982, he directed several TV movies for NBC.

His big break as a director came in 1982, with "Night Shift." Since then, he has directed several major films, including "Apollo 13" in 1995.


In the 2000s, he directed numerous successful movies. These include "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" in 2000, "Cinderella Man" in 2005, "The Da Vinci Code" in 2006, "Angels & Demons" in 2009, and "Inferno" in 2016.

In June 2017, Ron officially became the 2018 "Star Wars" prequel director for "Solo: A Star Wars Story." That same year, he announced that he would be teaching his first directing class.



While they were teenagers, Ron met Cheryl Alley at John Burroughs High School in Burbank. In 1970, they went on their first date, and Ron knew she was the one for him.

The couple got married on June 7, 1975, and they have been together for over 45 years. On March 2, 1981, they had their first daughter, Bryce Dallas, a notable actress and director.

On February 5, 1985, the couple welcomed a set of fraternal twins named Paige and Jocelyn. Paige made her feature film debut in 2009, but her sister stays out of the spotlight.

On April 12, 1987, they welcomed their last child Reed Cross, an avid golfer. Reed was also spotted on his dad's show "Arrested Development" in 2018.

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