|Ron Howard was born on 1st March 1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma, USA.
Ron Howard-Gap Rating 3/10
A showbiz veteran of over 40 years, Ron Howard experienced great success as a child actor in TV and film, a juvenile lead on the small screen, and a producer-director of successful Hollywood features in his maturity. As a filmmaker, he has proven capable of handling light comic material, special effects sagas, and transgeneric family dramas. The son of actors Rance and Jean Howard and older brother of character actor Clint, he made his first professional appearance at the age of 18 months on stage with his parents in Baltimore, Maryland.
As a child and later teen actor, the cute, redheaded Howard was very much of a "father's son" type: he first gained fame as Opie, the personable son of widowed Sheriff Andy Taylor, on "The Andy Griffith Show" (CBS, 1960-68). He worked in features during breaks in TV production, notably in "The Music Man" (1962) singing "Gary, Indiana" and, the following year, as the son of another widowed father (Glenn Ford) in "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" (1963). After departing his charmingly rustic TV hometown of Mayberry, North Carolina, Howard embarked on a minor feature career as an actor with a few bright spots, including a major role in "American Graffiti" (1973), the George Lucas-directed landmark comedy-drama of teen life in Southern California in the early 60s. This part led to a long TV gig starring as Richie Cunningham, the all-American-boy-next-door of the popular ABC faux 50s sitcom "Happy Days". Howard essayed Richie regularly for six seasons until 1980 and then made occasional appearances over the series' remaining four years.
On the big screen, Howard fared well in a memorable featured role as the son of a widowed Lauren Bacall who falls under the influence of a moribund John Wayne in "The Shootist" (1976). Otherwise, he appeared mostly in undistinguished Westerns and drive-in fare. Howard made his directing and screenwriting debut at age 23, in the latter arena with "Grand Theft Auto" (1977), a cheapie produced by Roger Corman. After further honing his filmmaking skills on several TV projects, Howard made his mark as a director with his second venture, "Night Shift" (1982), a wacky comedy about two morgue attendants who double as pimps. While "Happy Days" co-star Henry Winkler starred in the movie, it also marked Howard's initial collaboration with several individuals. He and producer Brian Grazer would go on to form a production company while former "Happy Days" screenwriters Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel would team with him on "Splash" (1984), "Gung Ho" (1986) and "Parenthood" (1989) and actor Michael Keaton would star in both "Gung Ho" and "The Paper" (1994).
With his third feature, "Splash", Howard garnered a great deal of attention. A major hit for Disney's then new Touchstone division, this romantic fantasy about a man and a mermaid (Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah) proved to be the studio's most successful live-action feature up to that time. Howard enjoyed another hit and directed veteran actor Don Ameche to a Best Supporting Actor Oscar with "Cocoon" (1985), a Spielbergian sci-fi fantasy about old folks who rediscover youthful vigor thanks to alien intervention. On the other hand, "Willow" (1988), a lavish George Lucas-produced fantasy peopled with elves, trolls and a gallant hero, did not find its expected audience. By this point, though, the tone and style of a Howard-directed film was already in place: much as his success as a child actor helped extend the cozy, sweet aura of mainstream film and TV, his features essentially rework old genre formulas, offering plenty of feel-good optimism and playful whimsy to soften the grimmer, more violent edge of contemporary mainstream cinema.
In 1985, Howard and Grazer formed Imagine Films Entertainment and took it public the following year. After a number of very successful features, the dynamic duo felt that Imagine was not paying them their street value, so in 1992, they announced plans to leave Imagine for a joint venture at Universal. This horrified stockholders, who consequently allowed Howard and Grazer to renegotiate their deal so that Imagine lent them money to buy out the company. By 1993, Imagine was a privately-owned entity with Howard and Grazer serving as co-CEOs. Through Imagine, Howard served as a producer on most of his own films as well as the Michael Keaton-vehicle "Clean and Sober" (1988), the comedy "The 'Burbs" (1989), the John Grisham adaptation "The Chamber" (1996) and the period drama "Inventing the Abbots" (1997). Imagine has also made inroads in TV, with Howard and Grazer serving as producers or executive producers of series as varied as sitcoms like "Gung Ho" (ABC, 1986-87, based on the Howard-directed film) and "Hiller and Diller" (ABC, 1997-98), the acclaimed comedy-drama "Sports Night" (ABC, 1998-2000), the popular teen drama "Felicity" (The WB, 1998-2002) and lesser lights like "The PJs" (Fox, 1999-2001), "Wonderland" (ABC, 2000) and "The Beast" (ABC, 2001).
In the 1990s, Howard solidified his reputation as a reliable Hollywood genre director, helming several diverse projects including the wholesome ensemble comedy "Parenthood" (as well as producing its sitcom spin-off for NBC in 1990-91), the rousing firefighter drama "Backdraft" (1991) and the historical romantic adventure "Far and Away" (1992). The first two were solid successes while the latter, a would-be epic starring Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, was Howard's first critical and commercial disappointment. He received more positive press if not better box office for "The Paper" (1994), a somewhat sentimental comedy-drama about tabloid journalism.
Howard reached new heights at the helm of "Apollo 13" (1995), the based-on-fact drama about a NASA moon mission that encountered difficulties and the efforts of the crew and ground support to avert potential tragedy. Eschewing archival footage, Howard and his team recreated everything in perfect detail, from the interior of the capsule to the command center in Houston to the 1970s decor of the astronaut's homes. With a strong cast that included Tom Hanks, Gary Sinise, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris and Kathleen Quinlan, "Apollo 13" earned critical kudos and a healthy box office. Indeed, Academy members were suitably impressed and rewarded the film with nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture. Surprisingly, though, Howard was omitted from the Best Director category, an oversight that the Directors Guild of America rectified in part by awarding him its award as Director of the Year.
Howard continued on the space theme, collaborating with Hanks as a producer on the Emmy-winning HBO miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon" (1998), which traced the history of the Apollo missions from their inception in 1961 through the triumphant 1969 moon landing to the end of the project in 1972.
For his next three big screen projects, Howard adapted previously produced material, adding his own spin to the films. "Ransom" (1996) was a remake of a 1956 thriller featuring Mel Gibson and Rene Russo as a wealthy married couple whose son is kidnapped. Somewhat of a departure for Howard, "Ransom" was his first attempt at darker material and if the end results were a mixed bag, it signaled a desire to stretch. "EDtv" (1999), based on the French-Canadian movie "Louis XIX: Roi des Ondes", had the interesting premise of a man being followed by television cameras seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. Unfortunately, "The Truman Show" (1998) had already been released and proved a hit with audiences. In comparison, Howard's movie was deemed less adventurous, his direction pandering to the lowest common denominator and the script's criticism of contemporary media toothless. The third film, "Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000), earned Howard some of the worst notices of his career, yet paradoxically was his biggest hit. Competing with the classic TV cartoon that was also based on the children's book, the film was a grandly produced affair, with spectacular sets, eye-popping costumes and quirky makeup. Howard's film was also graced with the manic energy of Jim Carrey as the green-furred anti-hero. While critics found the effort ponderous, viewers flocked to screenings, pushing its cumulative box-office gross to over $260 million. (Its DVD release netted more than $145 million in its first week of release.)
What would Howard do for an encore? Instead of another remake, he turned his attention to the biopic, a genre in which he had not previously worked, opting to tell the story of mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. who overcame schizophrenia and won a Nobel Prize. "A Beautiful Mind" (2001) garnered as much controversy as acclaim, though, as many objected to the liberties it took with the facts. Howard and screenwriter Akiva Goldsman conceded that they made a fictionalized account of the man's life. It also marked another rarity in the director's canon: the film had a single leading role whereas most of his work has been of an ensemble nature. Having received eight Academy Award nominations, one of which was Howard's first as Best Director, it took home four statues, including Best Picture and Best Director.
Howard's next outing, the mysterioso Western "The Missing" (2003), with Cate Blanchett as a frontier woman who must team with her estranged father (Tommy Lee Jones) to rescue her abducted daughter, had its strengths but received mixed critical reviews and middling box office. As a performer, he rejoined former cast mates for the well-rated TV reunion specials "The Andy Griffith Show Reunion: Back to Mayberry" (2003) and "Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion" (2005), and he took on the role of the narrator for the critially acclaimed Fox sitcom "Arrested Development" (2003 - ), which he also executive produced along with Grazer--Imagine's other TV series include the mega-hit "24" (Fox, 2001).
In 2005 Howard reteamed with Russell Crowe (who referred to the pairing, along with Grazer and screenwriter Russell Crowe, as the "Fab Four") for the largely well-received "Cinderella Man" (2005), the warm-hearted story of Depression-era fighter and folk hero Jim Braddock, who defeated heavyweight champ Max Baer in a 15-round slugfest in 1935. Although Howard took some criticism for telling the tale with a degree of heavy-handedness, the film was generally praised for its uplifting spirit and generated some early summer Oscar buzz for the director and Crowe.In 2005 Howard reteamed