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Ron Howard Was Cast as ‘Crying Baby’ While in Mom’s Arms & Never Saw Paychecks until 18, Book Claims

Esther NJeri
Jul 01, 2022
06:30 A.M.
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Ron Howard is today a successful filmmaker with a production company worth millions of dollars. He has come a long way from his first unpaid role as a crying baby in his mother's arms. Despite working so hard at such a young age, he never saw his paychecks until 18.

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Ron Howard is one of the most recognized filmmakers for his hit comedies "Parenthood" and "Splash" and the critically acclaimed dramas "Apollo 13" and "A Beautiful Mind."

His journey to becoming one of this generation's most famous actors and directors started when he landed his first unpaid role at 18 months. His father, still in the Air Force, contrived a thirty-day leave to appear in the Grade C Western "Frontier Woman" as the bad guy.

Ron Howard attends a press conference for “Light & Magic” at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California on May 27, 2022. | Source: Getty Images

Ron Howard attends a press conference for “Light & Magic” at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California on May 27, 2022. | Source: Getty Images

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At one point, the directors needed a crying baby, and Howard, watching from the sidelines in his mother's arms, was elected. They gave him a tomahawk — a type of single-handed ax — to play with, and when they snatched it away, he began wailing. It would be the first of many times Howard would cry on cue.

Howard does not count the role as his first professional debut because he did not get paid. However, he landed his first paid role at four years old. Growing up, Howard and his siblings became the "breadwinners" of the family, but even so, Howard says he did not see his paychecks until he was 18.

Actor and director, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor on the US television series, 'The Andy Griffith Show', USA, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

Actor and director, Ron Howard as Opie Taylor on the US television series, 'The Andy Griffith Show', USA, circa 1960. | Source: Getty Images

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At only 12, he realized he earned $5,000 more than famed Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax and that was the first time he got a perspective of his salary. He recalled:

"When it occurred to me that at 12 I was making the same money that Koufax was, that was the first time I put in perspective what the money was."

Howard earned $105,000 spread across the 34 shows he would do that year. However, his income sat in his bulging bank account as his parents were too worried to invest it for fear they would lose it. They saved most of it, only deducting the 5 percent fee they allowed themselves as his managers.

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Even with his huge salary, his parents did not push him into doing anything he did not like. They always told him he could quit his acting career if it no longer suited him. However, Howard loved his job, and acting continued to be a glorious game to him.

HOWARD WAS ONE OF THE MOST PAID ACTORS ON "HAPPY DAYS"

Howard appeared in "Playhouse 90s," "Dobie Gillis," "Dennis the Menace," and "The Andy Griffith Show" as a young boy and continued landing plenty more roles that spilled into his adulthood.

One of the shows that shaped his career was "Happy Days," where he played the wholesome Richie Cunningham, a teen who would do anything to land a date. His role portrayed him as often chasing after women, but he did not seem to have any ill motives behind it.

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American actor Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham in front of a US Army recruitment sign and a sign for the fictional 'Jefferson High School' in a promotional image for the television sitcom 'Happy Days', circa 1977 | Source: Getty Images

American actor Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham in front of a US Army recruitment sign and a sign for the fictional 'Jefferson High School' in a promotional image for the television sitcom 'Happy Days', circa 1977 | Source: Getty Images

He began as the original lead character, but his costar Fonzie supplanted his and others' roles. However, Howard would remain one of the highest-paid characters in the show. Today, his net worth supersedes most of his costars on the show.

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His net worth is also evident from the homes he once owned. The "Inferno" star sold his New York City apartment for $12.5 million in 2017. A stylish Encino ranch-style home once owned by Howard sold for $3.4 million in 2020, a far cry from the $808,000 the star sold it for in 1986.

Besides a successful career in filmmaking, Howard is also a family man. He has been married to his high school sweetheart, Cheryl, since 1975. They raised four children, Bryce Dallas, Paige Carlyle, Jocelyn Carlyle, and Reed Cross.

Jose Andres and Ron Howard participate in a Q&A session during National Geographic Documentary Films' WE FEED PEOPLE New York Premiere at SVA Theater on May 03, 2022 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

Jose Andres and Ron Howard participate in a Q&A session during National Geographic Documentary Films' WE FEED PEOPLE New York Premiere at SVA Theater on May 03, 2022 in New York City. | Source: Getty Images

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The star is also involved in charities that help disaster victims on a large scale. While it involves logistical struggles of cooking and distributing food in areas with no power and many days on the road, it is a cause he is devoted to.

He runs the cause alongside José Andrés, Spanish chef and founder of World Central Kitchen, a non-profit devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters. "The amazing thing is that people who are staying home, those family members, are equally part of the story." He says, adding:

"And they're the reason I'm doing all this — if one day something happens to my family members, I know someone will come help us."

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HOWARD'S NET WORTH TODAY

Ron Howard arrives at the Premiere Of FX's "Under The Banner Of Heaven" at Hollywood Athletic Club on April 20, 2022 in Hollywood, California.| Source: Getty Images

Ron Howard arrives at the Premiere Of FX's "Under The Banner Of Heaven" at Hollywood Athletic Club on April 20, 2022 in Hollywood, California.| Source: Getty Images

Howard started his career early and has made breakthroughs over the years, earning himself a top spot among the most recognized directors in Hollywood. He has generated immense wealth along the way.

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As of 2022, Howard has an estimated net worth of $200 million. The numbers look impressive, but they could be higher after Howard co-authored the book "The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family" with his brother Clint in 2021.

The book became an instant hit, with Tom Hanks calling it "extraordinary" and noting it would "surprise every reader with its humanity." The book stands to bring in some rewarding sales if the creative collaborators' word is anything to go by.

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Most of his wealth comes from his production company Imagine Entertainment, founded in 1985. The company, co-owned by Brian Grazer, is estimated to be worth between $600 and $800, with Variety estimating it at $825 million in 2021.

In the past 36 years that the company has been operational, it has produced everything Screenwise from theatrical films such as "Like Father Like Son," "Paper & Glue," and "American Made." It is also involved in TV productions such as "Hiller and Diller" and "The Beast."

Howard has not always had a smooth ride to where he is as he revealed that he had made some financial mistakes along the way. In a 2016 interview with CNBC, Howard disclosed that his biggest financial mistake was hiring a money manager.

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He realized, albeit too late, that not all financial managers have clients' interests at heart. Since then, the "Apollo 13" director devised a new strategy. "I found over the years that the best thing I can do is work for a living," he said. "When it comes to managing the income I generate, my wife and I invest very, very conservatively."

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