Ron Howard became a star following his portrayal of “Opie” on The Andy Griffith Show at age 5. He continued his career in Hollywood by starring in Happy Days and became a very-well respected actor, as well as director.
Outside of the Hollywood spotlight, Howard is now celebrating 46 years of marriage to his wife, Cheryl Howard.
Cheryl and Ron met way back. It’s been more than 50 years since their first date – and still to this day, they are deeply in love. Now, he reveals the secrets to their wonderful marriage.
Ron Howard became an actor almost before he could even talk.
Born on March 1, 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma, Ron Howard was a part of a very creative and theatrical family. His mother Jean was an actress, and his father, Rance, an actor and director.
Ron Howard – actor and director
At 18 months of age, Ron appeared in his first movie, Frontier Woman. At age 2 he made his stage debut in a production of The Seven Year Itch, and soon, more jobs offers came pouring in.
Howard starred in several television shows. When appearing in the CBS series Playhouse 90 in 1959, a producer named Sheldon Leonard thought he was great. He went on to cast Ron Howard as “Opie” in his new series, The Andy Griffith Show, and it changed Howard’s life forever.
The TV series and the inhabitants of the fictional town named Mayberry became very famous and popular for the way they maintained the strict, moral code of the 1950s and 1960s.
It remained a household favorite for 8 years, and still to this day, the legendary show remains a fan favorite.
Starring as Andy Taylor’s (Andy Griffith) son, Opie was a huge role for Howard. His parents had always been supportive of his acting career. In his early years, they told him that he didn’t have to act in those type of shows if he didn’t want to. However, once he got the part, their attitude changed.
“Remember how we always said, ‘You can do it if you want, but you don’t have to?’ Well if you start this, you can’t quit’,” Howard recalled his parents telling him. “You don’t have to do other parts on other shows, if you don’t want, but you’d have to keep doing this one.”
Ron Howard – “Opie”
Ron Howard understood what his parents meant – and he knew what he wanted to do.
“I think it was pretty clear at that point that I was enjoying it, and I was good at it,” he said.
Not only did Ron Howard love doing The Andy Griffith Show, he was also a great actor.
Elinor Donahue – starring as the pharmacist Ellie Walker for 12 episodes – recalled working with Ron Howard. And she was really impressed.
“Ron Howard was the best child actor I had worked with,” Donahue said. “He just had something.”
“He always knew his lines. He knew your lines as well,” she added. “Not the least bit bratty or ‘know-it-all’ or anything,” said Donahue. “A very nice boy.”
Working with Ron Howard was obviously a great thing for the rest of the cast. It can probably be tough having to handle younger children on set, but this wasn’t the case with Howard and Griffith.
Speaking with NPR, Howard explained that the two had a wonderful relationship on-screen.
“You know, they always have the kids in situation comedies be brats,” Howard said. “They really are kids that you kind of think, ‘God, somebody ought to just discipline that kid.’ But the Andy-Opie relationship was more of a real relationship, where when the kid gets out of line, the father does something about it.
Bullied because of “The Andy Griffith Show”
“And the kid respects the father instead of being just a wise guy all the time. And Andy really took to that, and it’s one of the things that differentiates it from what we’re accustomed to seeing on sitcoms.”
One might think that Ron Howard would become the popular boy in school following his great success on The Andy Griffith Show. But the reality was something completely else.
In his 2012 biography, Ron Howard revealed that he was very embarrassed talking about the fact that he was a child actor.
“Among my peers, I was embarrassed to be an actor,” Howard recalled. “It was not something to be talked about.
“The Andy Griffith Show was the No. 1 show in the country, so I always knew there was something that I could do that was unusual and that I could function in an adult environment.
“I was the butt of a lot of jokes,” he added. “My character’s name, Opie, rhymes with dopey… I’d have to get into fights with people.”
This could’ve broken anyone, and in Howard’s fact, the worst case scenario was probably to quit acting completely. However, he was resilient and wouldn’t let anyone affect him.
Two Academy Awards
“Fortunately, I could sort of hang in,” Howard said. “I used to really spend a lot of time hanging around with the crew. The crew would get a real kick showing me what they did.”
The Andy Griffith Show was just the beginning for Ron Howard. He continued on acting, but most importantly, he fell in love with directing.
At 15-years of age, he directed his first 3-minute film called Deed of Derring-Do, and he became a success. In 2001, he won two Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for A Beautiful Mind.
American actor and director Ron Howard with his wife Cheryl, circa 1978. (Photo by Richard Nairin/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
“I was an actor who dreamed of being a director,” he said.
Ron Howard is now 67 years old. Besides having a wonderful and very successful career, he’s also a loving father and husband.
In Hollywood, we have many times celebrities date each other, getting married, divorced, and re-marrying someone else.
But for Ron Howard and his wife Cheryl, that hasn’t been the case at all. Their love story is truly amazing.
Who is Ron Howard’s wife?
While studying at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California, Howard met Cheryl for the first time.
From the first moment they saw each other, they had an instant connection. And just like Howard explained himself, “there was never anybody else.”
In an Instagram post last year, Howard recalled their first date, which took place on November 1, 1970.
“We went to see a re-release of Stanley Kramer’s It’s a Mad Mad Mad World and then got some pizza at now defunct Barnone’s in Toluca Lake. Quite a start, right?”
Many things happen during the high school years. People start to pursue different dreams and head to college, and retaining a relationship can be really hard.
For Ron and Cheryl, it wasn’t an obstacle at all. Instead, they kept by each others’ side all through their teenage years and for many years to come.
Just as Ron’s parents were, he and Cheryl were also creative people. He loved directing and acting, and Cheryl loved to write.
She became an author, and published books such as In the Face of Jinn, Grandma, Tell Me a Story, and Heart and Desire.
“As a child, I was consumed with adventure stories, fairy tales and real-life accounts of people who had traveled around the globe,” Cheryl explained on her website’s bio. “I didn’t start writing until the age of 22 and English was never my strong point, but I do, dearly, love a good yarn. Especially, if afterward, I’m just a little more aware of the world around me.”
Ron Howard – family
When Ron and Cheryl had started dating, filmmaking was on his mind all the time. In fact, he used his father, brother, and even Cheryl in his film.
“I did a live-action with my dad who’s an actor, my brother Clint – who’s an actor – and I needed a [third]. It was a kind of Western thing,” Ron Howard told Observer. “I cheated. I got to sneak on the backlot of a Western set at a studio. And I needed a saloon girl, so I said, ‘Cheryl, do you want to be the saloon girl?’”
“We hadn’t been dating that long, but she came,” he added. “All she had to do was stand off to the side and kind of wink while these two had this goofy showdown. Anyway, I came in second,” he said. “That felt pretty lucky.”
In 1975, Ron Howard and Cheryl got married. In 1981, the couple welcomed their eldest daughter, Bryce, and four years later, twin daughters Jocelyn and Paige arrived. In 1987, they welcomed son, Reed.
Their eldest daughter, , Bryce Dallas Howard’s actually also a very successful actor in Hollywood.
“I felt really lucky when we met. It’s crazy — we were teenagers, it shouldn’t have worked. We got married young, that shouldn’t have worked either, and yet it really and truly has,” Howard said in 2013.
“Communication is really important”
Even though Cheryl might not be as passionate about films as her husband, she has always been there supporting Ron. He explained that he “always needed people to fill in” as extras in his productions, and Cheryl was always up for the task!
On June 7, the couple celebrated their 46th wedding anniversary. It’s now also been more than 50 years since they went on their first date.
So what has been the secret to such a long-lasting and loving marriage? According to Ron Howard, it’s all been about communication.
“People say, ‘How’d you do it?’ There’s no technique. There’s no tactic other than communication is really important,” he told People Magazine in 2019.
“You have to learn to communicate and have difficult conversations in constructive ways,” says Howard. “Beyond that, there’s an element of luck because people either grow together or they don’t and I don’t think you can force that.”
Even though both Ron and Cheryl have had truly successful careers, and still do, family will always be the most important thing.
Watching them together has really made me believe in true love.
“She’s unbelievably supportive and always has been,” Howard said of Cheryl. “Our compatibility has endured through all kinds of experiences.”
Ron Howard and his wife Cheryl are such a lovely couple. We wish them all the best in the future and hope they will have many wonderful years together further down the road.
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