Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ron Howard

Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon... and Beyond by Beverly Gray
Thomas Nelson, 2003
Hardcover, 336 pages
ISBN-13: 9781558539709
highly recommended

Ron Howard: From Mayberry to the Moon... and Beyond, the first full-length biography of Ron Howard, takes an in-depth look at the Oklahoma boy who gained national fame as a child star, then grew up to be one of Hollywood's most admired directors. Although many show biz kids founder as they approach adulthood, Ron Howard had the advantage of brains, common sense, and two down-to-earth parents who kept him from having an inflated view of his own accomplishments. He also had a longstanding goal: to trade the glare of the spotlight for a quieter but equally creative life behind the camera. This biography tracks his career from 1960, when he debuted as six-year-old Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show through 2002, when he accepted his Academy Award® as Best Director for A Beautiful Mind.
My Thoughts:

Gray did extensive research to write this unauthorized biography of Ron Howard. Much of her information was gleaned from previous interviews, as well as other sources. The biography includes 16 pages of photos and over 65 pages at the end consisting of a timeline, filmography as an actor, filmography as a director and producer, awards and honors, extensive source notes, and an index. What we learn, ultimately is what we already instinctively know: Ron Howard really is a nice man, although a more guarded, private man than many people might realize, but he really is a nice guy. Don't bother reading this biography if you're looking for scandal and dirt. Credit is deservedly given to his parents, Rance and Jean Howard, who played a tremendous role in shaping his life - and their pivotal role in his life needs to be acknowledged. I think Ron's nature, combined with their good, common sense, helped keep Ron Howard grounded. The one drawback to this biography is that it really seems to have been written too early in his career. Rather than being interviewed for this biography, Howard "felt himself to be in midcareer and not ready to participate in a long range assessment of his accomplishments."(pg x) Since this biography ends with Howard's Oscar for A Beautiful Mind, most people would have to agree that this biography is a little precipitous, and Howard (hopefully) has many years of work ahead of him.
Highly Recommended


Sizing up Ron Howard should be easy as pie. After all, everybody knows him. At least we think we do. He has been coming into our living rooms for the past forty years, first as lovable Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show and then as perennial teenager Richie Cunningham of Happy Days. pg. ix

No one else in Hollywood has so emphatically made the jump from child star to director. And his iconic status from his days as Opie and Richie continues to resonate, even while he directs award-winning motion pictures. Part of his appeal for me was that, in his journey from Opie to Oscar, there has never been the slightest whiff of scandal. As one veteran observer of the Hollywood scene told me, "I have never heard a bad thing about Ron Howard. Never." pg. x

Little Ronny Howard was America's kid brother. Bright-eyed and gap-toothed, with a shock of red hair that seemed made for Technicolor, he quickly came to exemplify the American virtues of innocence, optimism, common sense, and good humor. pg. 3

Ron has taken to heart what Rance told him then, that no matter who was watching, "I have only one job and that's to be your father and that's to teach you right from wrong. And nothing about that job embarrasses me." Those who wrote and produced The Andy Griffith show were quick to apply this dynamic between Rance and Ronny to the scripted relationship between Andy and Opie Taylor. pg. 18-19

Another one of the Howard's contract stipulations was that Ronny never be required to make personal appearances for the show. This proviso shielded him from overwhelming fan adulation and allowed him more time to focus on baseball cards, dinosaurs, monster models, and a host of other boyish interests. For a while, he even had a paper route, just like the other youngsters on the block. All these activities helped him remain matter-of-fact about fame and fortune: "When I was little, kids would come up to me at school and ask what it was like being on TV. And I always remember my dad saying that it was just like having a paper route - you still have to get up early and learn your way around." pg. 23

Douglas asked the obvious question: why would a successful actor want to direct? Howard's answer was a variation on something he has often said: "It's the idea of the control, and the fact that you're really carrying the responsibility. You're not in someone else's hands quite so much." In other contexts, Howard has emphasized that the actor's life is not one that suits his nature: "I didn't choose to become an actor. It fulfills no need I have, and the attention and adulation that go along with acting have always made me feel a little bit uncomfortable..." pg. 74


Dreamybee said...

I love that Ron Howard is a nice guy who is recognized for the great work he does and not a bunch of celebrity scandal. To be celebrated for your work instead of your celebrity seems almost unheard of these days. Yay, Ron Howard!

Lori L said...

There wasn't even a hint of scandal in his life. The fact that he is still married to Cheryl, his first and only wife, is admirable.