Ron Howard’s Hollywood Career: Balancing Fame and Family

Ron Howard wept when his mother was cast in a role years after she had given up career because of her kids

Ron Howard is a name that is recognized in households across America. From his early start in Hollywood, many may not know the story behind his successful career. Ron’s parents, Rance Howard and Jean Speegle, were both entertainers who ensured their sons could experience the positives of acting without the negatives of child stardom.

Ron and his brother Clint had a childhood that blended fame and normalcy, thanks to their dedicated parents. In their memoir, “The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family,” they reflect on the sacrifices their parents made to create a balanced life for them. Rance and Jean worked tirelessly to manage their own careers while ensuring their sons had a normal upbringing alongside their Hollywood fame.

Jean’s journey was not without its challenges. She studied at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York but suffered an accident that affected her mobility. However, she persevered, continuing her acting education at the University of Oklahoma, where she met Rance Howard, her future husband.

In their book, Ron and Clint vividly describe their parents. Their father, Rance, was handsome and slender, and their mother, Jean, had a doll-like face with red hair. The couple’s shared love for acting brought them together. They began their careers with a children’s theater touring company, where Jean played various princesses and Rance often portrayed a huntsman or a prince.

It was during a tour in Kentucky that Rance and Jean decided to get married. After spending a year and a half with the touring theater company, they made the decision to leave and focus on starting a family. Soon after, Ron Howard and Clint Howard entered their lives. Although Jean continued to act for a while longer, she eventually gave it up to prioritize raising her boys.

Rance continued to act and manage his sons’ careers. When Ron got a role on “The Andy Griffith Show” at the age of six, his father was there to support and guide him. The same was true when Ron starred in “The Music Man” – his father was right there by his side. Clint also had roles in projects like “Bonanza,” “Star Trek,” and “Gentle Ben.” Their parents were careful with their earnings, setting up trust accounts to secure their future.

In their book, Clint and Ron reveal that their lives as child actors in Hollywood were not extravagant. Their parents kept them grounded, ensuring they didn’t spend lavishly. Instead, they relied mostly on their father’s income and saved the money their sons earned. Their father even turned down an opportunity to start a clothing line, wanting to protect his children’s childhood from the invasive nature of Hollywood fame.

Growing up in Hollywood presented challenges for the Howard brothers, but their father prioritized their well-being and mental health. Ron recalls an incident on set when he was ten years old. Older child actors started using profanity, but Rance stepped in, reminding them of his son’s age and the importance of appropriate language.

Ron Howard and Cheryl

Today, Ron Howard is a highly respected actor and director, while Clint has appeared in numerous projects. After retiring from acting to raise her sons, Jean decided to make a comeback after thirty years of early retirement. Ron cast her in a role in his film “Apollo 13” after his father suggested it. The audition took place at his parents’ home, and as his mother performed, Ron was overcome with emotion. He couldn’t help but cry, not only out of pride but also because he recognized her talent and was grateful to give her a platform to showcase it.

The 1995 movie was a massive success, earning 29 awards, including two Academy Awards. Sadly, Jean passed away in 2000 at the age of 73 due to heart and respiratory problems, followed by Rance’s passing in 2017 at the age of 89. The Howard brothers found solace in each other after losing their parents, using their book, “The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family,” to honor their memories and navigate their grief.

Clint has admitted to struggling with their parents’ deaths and finding it difficult to process and grieve properly. Through their memoir, the brothers were able to commemorate their parents’ memories and find healing. They are incredible individuals, grounded despite their Hollywood upbringing. Let’s wish them continued success and share their story to inspire others to honor their loved ones’ legacies.