Ron Howard

Actor, Producer & Director


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

A television star by the age of six, Ron Howard recalls that: "people were beginning to come up and ask me for autographs after The Andy Griffith Show aired, and I could print but it just took me forever, so I actually learned cursive writing so that I could sign autographs." In his three-hour Archive interview, Howard reminisces about his early years growing up in Burbank, the son of actor parents, and his own start at age three, using a dialogue scene from "Mr. Roberts" as his audition piece. He describes some of his earliest acting on television including the "live" anthology drama Playhouse 90 and his recurring role as part of the gang on Dennis the Menace. He then talks about his appearance on an episode of General Electric Theater, for which host Ronald Reagan made special note, catching the eye of producer Sheldon Leonard, who cast Howard on the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show. He speaks in great detail about playing "Opie Taylor" on The Andy Griffith Show, describing his work with Andy Griffith and the show's ensemble and discussing moments from the series' production. He talks about using memories of his dog's death to create the emotions necessary for the classic "Opie the Birdman" episode, and truly having to "act" when eating "ice cream" (actually cold mashed potatoes). He briefly describes some television roles he appeared in before taking on his other signature television role of "Richie Cunningham" on Happy Days. He discusses candidly, the shift in the series focus onto the break-out "Fonzie" character, recites some of the series numerous catchphrases and reminisces about memorable series episodes (including "The Howdy Doody Show" and the now-infamous "jump-the-shark" episode, "Hollywood"). He details his transition to behind-the-camera as a director of low-budget features and television movies (including Cotton Candy and Skyward), before becoming one of Hollywood's A-list producer-directors. He lastly notes his work as executive-producer and voice-over narrator on the Emmy-Award-winning sitcom Arrested Development. Gary Rutkowski conducted the interview at the Imagine Entertainment offices on October 18, 2006 in Beverly Hills, CA.

"At the end of the day it doesn't matter how much money people are being paid or how many trucks you have on the sidelines. What'd you get inside the frame? That's all I care about."

Highlights
Ron Howard on accepting a role in the pilot of Happy Days (aired as an episode of Love, American Style) to avoid the Vietnam War draft
02:11
Ron Howard on how The Andy Griffith Show was about the community of Mayberry as an extended family
01:36
Ron Howard on his Happy Days character, "Richie Cunningham"
01:15
Ron Howard on how Arrested Development came about
03:34
Ron Howard on his directorial style
02:25
Ron Howard on how his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" developed from his real-life father's talks with Andy Griffith
01:36
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On growing up in Burbank, CA; on his parents and the traits he inherited from them
On his first memories with his father, actor Rance Howard, in summer stock; on auditioning as a child actor with a scene from "Mr. Roberts"; on being coached by his father
On his screen debut in The Journey; on his early television roles including Playhouse 90
On "live" TV; on appearing on an episode of The Twilight Zone and as a member of the gang of Dennis the Menace
On a significant part on TV's General Electric Theater, singled out by series host Ronald Reagan, which led to his casting on The Andy Griffith Show

Chapter 2

On signing up for The Andy Griffith Show and on learning the fundamentals of the acting profession
On the premise of The Andy Griffith Show and how it reflected Andy Griffith's sensibilities; on his contribution to dialogue; on his initial thoughts about becoming a director
On his The Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" and Opie'e relationship to his father during the show's run.
On watching The Andy Griffith Show during its run; on Andy Griffith, Don Knotts, and Frances Bavier
On some of the classic episodes of The Andy Griffith Show

Chapter 3

On his guest-starring role on M*A*S*H in the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" and his work as a series regular on The Smith Family
On accepting a role in the pilot of Happy Days (aired as an episode of Love, American Style) to avoid the Vietnam War draft; on Happy Days getting picked up for series
On accepting the lead role of Happy Days; on the premise of Happy Days; on his Happy Days character, "Richie Cunningham"
On his relationship with Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler; on his frustration with his treatment by the network and the studio; on working with the Happy Days ensemble and director Jerry Paris
On how the experience of doing The Andy Griffith Show compared to that of Happy Days; on his Happy Days character, "Richie Cunningham" and the characters relationship with "Fonzie" and his parents; on series creator Garry Marshall

Chapter 4

On classic episodes of Happy Days; on "jump the shark"; on Robin Williams' first appearance as "Mork"
On his memorable rendition of "Blueberry Hill" on Happy Days; on some of the catchphrases from Happy Days
On leaving Happy Days to pursue his burgeoning directing career
On his early career as a director; on his first feature and television movies

Chapter 5

On his brother, Clint Howard; on his wife, Cheryl's, appearance in all his movies; on his production company, Major H Productions; on the television movie Through the Magic Pyramid
On the television movie Skyward, and working with Bette Davis; on working with the legendary ensemble of the feature film "Cocoon"
On the television series Gung Ho and Parenthood, which both came out of his feature films; on his working relationship with producing partner Brian Grazer
On working as a director with Tom Hanks and Russell Crowe; on working as an actor with John Wayne

Chapter 6

On the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon; on making the feature film version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"
On the creation of Arrested Development and his role as the series' uncredited narrator
On Arrested Development's Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series; on his directorial style; on the experience of winning the Academy Award on the "live" Oscar telecast
Shows

Academy Awards, The

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Ron Howard on the experience of winning the Academy Award (for Best Director) on the live Oscar telecast
01:19

Andy Griffith Show, The

View Show Page
Ron Howard on his significant part on the General Electric Theater episode "Mr. O'Malley," which led to his casting on The Andy Griffith Show
03:11
Ron Howard on acting in front of a "live" audience for the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, that appeared as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show
00:36
Ron Howard on his parents' talks with him regarding his acting commitments as a child star of The Andy Griffith Show
01:56
Ron Howard on how he learned cursive writing so that he could sign autographs
00:26
Ron Howard on how his father served as his acting coach
01:37
Ron Howard on how the tone of The Andy Griffith Show was set by Andy Griffith's his approach to comedy
02:59
Ron Howard on his first contribution to the dialogue during the shooting of The Andy Griffith Show
01:59
Ron Howard on his early interests in becoming a director while acting as a child star on The Andy Griffith Show
00:41
Ron Howard on how The Andy Griffith Show was about the community of Mayberry as an extended family
01:36
Ron Howard on how his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" developed from his real-life father's talks with Andy Griffith
02:03
Ron Howard on his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor's" relationship with his father 
01:47
Ron Howard on Andy Griffith
02:28
Ron Howard on Don Knotts
01:17
Ron Howard on Frances Bavier
00:23
Ron Howard on using the death of a pet in real life to reach the emotions needed on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
01:56
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "The Pickle Story"
01:18
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50
Ron Howard on the real-life inspired Andy Griffith Show episode "The Ball Game," in which Andy calls Opie out at the plate in a baseball game
01:29
Ron Howard on comparing the approach to comedy on The Andy Griffith Show to that of Happy Days
01:23
Ron Howard on his brother, actor Clint Howard, who got his start as a bit-player on The Andy Griffith Show
01:04

Arrested Development

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Ron Howard on how Arrested Development came about
03:34
Ron Howard on the improvisational atmosphere he hoped to provide for Arrested Development
01:25
Ron Howard on the demands that Arrested Development made on its potential audience due to its narrative structure
01:27
Ron Howard on how he came to be the uncredited narrator of Arrested Development
00:45
Ron Howard on Liza Minnelli's guest-starring on Arrested Development
00:31
Ron Howard on Henry Winkler's role as oddball lawyer "Barry Zuckerhorn" of Arrested Development
01:13
Ron Howard on his role as the narrator of Arrested Development
01:52
Ron Howard on the Fox network's treatment of Arrested Development
00:51
Ron Howard on Arrested Development's Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series
01:20

Cotton Candy

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Ron Howard on the television movie Cotton Candy, which he directed
00:41
Ron Howard on the reception of his television movies: Cotton Candy, Through the Magic Pyramid, and Skyward.
00:54

Danny Thomas Show, The aka Make Room for Daddy

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Ron Howard on acting in front of a "live" audience for the pilot of The Andy Griffith Show, that appeared as an episode of The Danny Thomas Show
00:36

Dennis the Menace

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Ron Howard on appearing as one of the gang of kids on Dennis the Menace and the network's attempts to make star Jay North's hair match the comic strip
00:50

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas

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Ron Howard on pitching the movie version of the childrens' TV classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas to the widow of Dr. Seuss
02:23
Ron Howard on Jim Carrey's performance in the lead role of the movie version of the children's TV classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas
01:29

From the Earth to the Moon

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Ron Howard on the miniseries From the Earth to the Moon
01:30

General Electric Theater, The

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Ron Howard on his significant part on the General Electric Theater episode "Mr. O'Malley," which led to his casting on The Andy Griffith Show
03:11
Ron Howard on how he was moved to tears during the rehearal of the General Electric Theater epsiode "Tippy-Top"
01:26

Good Times

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Ron Howard on how "Fonzie" on Happy Days was being groomed to compete with Good Times' "J.J."
01:40

Gung Ho

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Ron Howard on the television series Gung Ho, from his own feature film
00:26

Happy Days

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Ron Howard on accepting a role in the pilot of Happy Days (aired as an episode of Love, American Style) to avoid the Vietnam War draft
02:11
Ron Howard on the Happy Days pilot's belatedly series pickup, following the success of the feature film "American Graffiti"
01:12
Ron Howard on accepting the lead role in Happy Days
01:06
Ron Howard on the nostalgic quality of Happy Days
00:30
Ron Howard on the premise of Happy Days and breakout character "Fonzie"
01:32
Ron Howard on how Happy Days' "Fonzie" was being groomed to compete with Good Times' "J.J."
01:40
Ron Howard on rejecting Happy Days' title change to Fonzie's Happy Days when Fonzie became a breakout character
02:22
Ron Howard on the network and studio's waning interest in him on Happy Days in light of breakout character "Fonzie"
02:31
Ron Howard on his Happy Days co-stars Henry Winkler, Donny Most, and Anson Williams
01:06
Ron Howard on his Happy Days parents Tom Bosley and Marion Ross
00:40
Ron Howard on Happy Days co-star Erin Moran
00:30
Ron Howard on working with Happy Days director Jerry Paris
00:53
Ron Howard on comparing the approach to comedy on The Andy Griffith Show to that of Happy Days
01:23
Ron Howard on his Happy Days character "Richie Cunningham"
01:16
Ron Howard on his character "Richie's" relationship to "Fonzie" on Happy Days
01:06
Ron Howard on the "best boss" he ever worked for: Happy Days creator/producer Garry Marshall
01:33
Ron Howard on the "Howdy Doody" episode of Happy Days
00:58
Ron Howard on playing a drunk scene in the Happy Days episode "Richie's Cup Runneth Over"
00:48
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "Hollywood" which ushered in the TV term "jump the shark"
02:08
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "Richie Almost Dies" and Henry Winkler's contribution
01:01
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "My Favorite Orkan" (which introduced "Mork") and Robin Williams' talent
03:47
Ron Howard on "Richie's" memorable rendition of "Blueberry Hill" on Happy Days
00:37
Ron Howard on the catchphrases from Happy Days
01:12
Ron Howard on the inspiration for his trademark laugh from Happy Days
00:13
Ron Howard on how little research he did into the 1950s for Happy Days
00:18
Ron Howard on how the cast of Happy Days, excluding himself, eventually allowed their 1950s style haircut to grow out to 1970s length during the show's run
00:34
Ron Howard on Lynda Goodfriend, who played his character's love interest, "Lori Beth," on Happy Days
00:55
Ron Howard speculates on what would have been "Richie Cunningham's" career trajectory following Happy Days
00:27
Ron Howard on his attempt to renegotiate his ABC contract to allow him to stay with Happy Days and pursue his burgeoning directing career
03:24
Ron Howard on telling Garry Marshall that he'd be leaving Happy Days to pursue a directing career
01:54

Howdy Doody

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Ron Howard on the "Howdy Doody" episode of Happy Days
00:58

Love, American Style

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Ron Howard on accepting a role in the pilot of Happy Days (aired as an episode of Love, American Style) to avoid the Vietnam War draft
02:11

M*A*S*H

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Ron Howard on his guest-starring role on M*A*S*H in the episode "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet"
00:52

Parenthood

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Ron Howard on the series Parenthood (1990), from his own feature film
00:45

Playhouse 90

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Ron Howard on how he came to be cast as a child actor on Playhouse 90
01:34
Ron Howard on a mistake he made on "live" TV as a child actor on Playhouse 90
01:23

Red Skelton Show, The

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Ron Howard on landing a bit on The Red Skelton Show, launching his TV career
01:00

Ron Howard's Skyward

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Ron Howard on the television movie Skyward and the casting of a disabled ingenue
01:50
Ron Howard on his struggle to gain the acceptance of Bette Davis, while directing her in the TV movie Skyward
03:58
Ron Howard on the reception of his television movies: Cotton Candy, Through the Magic Pyramid, and Skyward.
00:54

Simpsons, The

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Ron Howard on how the narrative structure of Arrested Development was inspired in part by The Simpsons
01:27

Smith Family, The

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Ron Howard on the series The Smith Family and his impressions of director Herschel Daugherty
00:46
Ron Howard on working with Henry Fonda on the series The Smith Family
00:43

Through the Magic Pyramid

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Ron Howard on the television movie Through the Magic Pyramid
01:42
Ron Howard on the reception of his television movies: Cotton Candy, Through the Magic Pyramid, and Skyward.
00:54

Twilight Zone, The

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Ron Howard on appearing as a child actor on The Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance"
00:35

24

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Ron Howard on taking his name off the producing credits of 24, since he felt it was in name only
00:38
Topics

Bloopers

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Ron Howard on a mistake he made on "live" TV as a child actor on Playhouse 90
01:32

Characters & Catchphrases

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Ron Howard on how his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" developed from his real-life father's talks with Andy Griffith
02:03
Ron Howard on his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor's" relationship with his father 
01:47
Ron Howard describes the premise of Happy Days and breakout character "Fonzie"
01:33
Ron Howard on how "Fonzie" on Happy Days was being groomed to compete with Good Times ' "J.J."
01:40
Ron Howard on the network and studio's waning interest in him on Happy Days in light of breakout character "Fonzie"
02:31
Ron Howard on his Happy Days character, "Richie Cunningham"
01:16
Ron Howard on his character "Richie's" relationship to "Fonzie" on Happy Days
01:06
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "My Favorite Orkan" (which introduced "Mork") and Robin Williams' talent
03:44
Ron Howard on "Richie's" memorable rendition of "Blueberry Hill" on Happy Days
00:37
Ron Howard on the inspiration for his trademark laugh from Happy Days
00:13
Ron Howard speculates on what would have been "Richie Cunningham's" career trajectory following Happy Days
00:27
Ron Howard on Henry Winkler's role as oddball lawyer "Barry Zuckerhorn" of Arrested Development
01:13
Ron Howard on his role as the narrator of Arrested Development
01:52

Classic TV series episodes

View Topic
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50

Comedy

View Topic
Ron Howard on using the death of a pet in real life to reach the emotions needed in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
01:56
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show 's "The Pickle Story"
01:18
Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50
Ron Howard on the "Howdy Doody" episode of Happy Days
00:58
Ron Howard on playing a drunk scene in the Happy Days episode "Richie's Cup Runneth Over"
00:48
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "Hollywood" which ushered in the TV term "jump the shark"
02:08
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "Richie Almost Dies" and Henry Winkler's contribution
01:01
Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "My Favorite Orkan" (which introduced "Mork") and Robin Williams' talent
03:44

Creative Influences and Inspiration

View Topic
Ron Howard on the first acting lesson his father taught him
00:41
Ron Howard on the inspiration for his trademark laugh from Happy Days
00:13
Ron Howard on his struggle to gain the acceptance of Bette Davis, while directing her in the TV movie Skyward
03:58
Ron Howard on how actors should always consider television as a source of good roles
00:52

Emmy Awards

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Ron Howard on Arrested Development's Emmy win for Outstanding Comedy Series
01:20

Memorable Moments on Television

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Ron Howard on using the death of a pet in real life to reach the emotions needed in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
01:56

People with Disabilities

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Ron Howard on the television movie Skyward and the casting of an ingenue with a disability
01:50

Pivotal Career Moments

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Ron Howard on the first acting lesson his father taught him
00:41

Pop Culture

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Ron Howard on The Andy Griffith Show episode "Mr. McBeevee"
01:50
Ron Howard on his first recollection of a big cultural change when the Beatles became popular
00:23

TV's Golden Age (1940s & '50s)

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Ron Howard on the migration of TV production from New York to Los Angeles in the 1950s, and his father, Rance Howard's, natural gravitation to western roles
00:59
Ron Howard on a mistake he made on "live" TV as a child actor on Playhouse 90
01:32

Vietnam War

View Topic
Ron Howard on accepting a role in the pilot of Happy Days (aired as an episode of Love, American Style) to avoid the Vietnam War draft
02:11

We Cried

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Ron Howard on using the death of a pet in real life to reach the emotions needed in The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman"
01:56
Professions

Actor

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Ron Howard on the tendency for child actors to "perform" and how his father taught him how to "act"
01:38

Directors

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Ron Howard on his directorial style
02:27

Producers

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Ron Howard on financing his own TV movies in the early 1980s, and learning valuable lessons of fiscal responsibility
01:52
Genres

Classic Anthology Series

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Ron Howard on the migration of TV production from New York to Los Angeles in the 1950s and his father, Rance Howard's, natural gravitation to western roles
01:00

Comedy Series

View Genre
Ron Howard on how the tone of The Andy Griffith Show was set by Andy Griffith and his approach to comedy
02:59
Ron Howard on how The Andy Griffith Show episode "Opie the Birdman" took a dramatic risk for a sitcom of its era
01:56
Ron Howard on comparing the approach to comedy on The Andy Griffith Show to that of Happy Days
01:23

TV Movies/Miniseries/Dramatic Specials

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Ron Howard on financing his own TV movies in the early 1980s, and learning valuable lessons of fiscal responsibility
01:52
People

Frances Bavier

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Ron Howard on Frances Bavier, his co-star on The Andy Griffith Show
00:23

Tom Bosley

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Ron Howard on his Happy Days parents Tom Bosley and Marion Ross
00:40

Wilford Brimley

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Ron Howard on Wilford Brimley's significant contribution to the feature film "Cocoon"
00:42

Jim Carrey

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Ron Howard on Jim Carrey's performance in the lead role of the movie version of the childrens' TV classic How the Grinch Stole Christmas
01:29

Russell Crowe

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Ron Howard on the dedication and talent of Russell Crowe
02:29

Herschel Daugherty

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Ron Howard on the series The Smith Family and his impressions of director Herschel Daugherty
00:46

Bette Davis

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Ron Howard on his struggle to gain the acceptance of Bette Davis, while directing her in the TV movie Skyward
03:58

Henry Fonda

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Ron Howard on working with Henry Fonda on the series The Smith Family
00:44

Lynda Goodfriend

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Ron Howard on Lynda Goodfriend, who played his character's love interest, "Lori Beth," on Happy Days
00:55

Brian Grazer

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Ron Howard on meeting producing partner Brian Grazer and breaking into feature filmmaking
02:48
Ron Howard on how he and producing partner Brian Grazer complement each other
02:13

Andy Griffith

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Ron Howard on how the tone of The Andy Griffith Show was set by Andy Griffith and his approach to comedy
02:59
Ron Howard on Andy Griffith's demeanor on The Andy Griffith Show
02:28

Tom Hanks

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Ron Howard meeting Tom Hanks and his casting in the feature films "Splash"
01:32

Clint Howard

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Ron Howard on his brother, actor Clint Howard, who got his start as a bit-player on The Andy Griffith Show
01:04

Jean Speegle Howard

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Ron Howard on his parents and the traits he inherited from them
02:58

Rance Howard

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Ron Howard on his parents and the traits he inherited from them
02:58
Ron Howard on the migration of TV production from New York to Los Angeles and his father's natural gravitation to western roles
00:59
Ron Howard on how his father served as his acting coach
01:37
Ron Howard on how his Andy Griffith Show character "Opie Taylor" developed from his real-life father's talks with Andy Griffith
02:03

Don Knotts

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Ron Howard on Don Knotts, his co-star on The Andy Griffith Show
01:17

Garry Marshall

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Ron Howard on the "best boss" he ever worked for: Happy Days creator/producer Garry Marshall
01:33

Liza Minnelli

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Ron Howard on Liza Minnelli's guest-starring on Arrested Development
00:31

Erin Moran

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Ron Howard on Happy Days co-star Erin Moran
00:30

Donny Most

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Ron Howard on his Happy Days co-stars Henry Winkler, Donny Most, and Anson Williams
01:06

Jerry Paris

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Ron Howard on working with Happy Days director Jerry Paris
00:53

Marion Ross

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Ron Howard on his Happy Days parents Tom Bosley and Marion Ross
00:40

Don Siegel

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Ron Howard on working with John Wayne (and director Don Siegel) on the feature film "The Shootist"
01:31

John Wayne

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Ron Howard on working with John Wayne (and director Don Siegel) on the feature film "The Shootist"
01:31

Robin Williams

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Ron Howard on the Happy Days episode "My Favorite Orkan" (which introduced "Mork") and Robin Williams' talent
03:44

Anson Williams

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Ron Howard on his Happy Days co-stars Henry Winkler, Donny Most, and Anson Williams
01:06
Ron Howard on the television movie Skyward and Anson Williams' contribution
01:50

Henry Winkler

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Ron Howard on his Happy Days co-stars Henry Winkler, Donny Most, and Anson Williams
01:06
Ron Howard on Henry Winkler's role as oddball lawyer "Barry Zuckerhorn" of Arrested Development
01:13

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