Marion Ross' Christmas wish in 1996 was to be in another Ron Howard movie

Let's get Mrs. C up on the big screen again, Ronny!

For the Happy Days Christmas episode "Richie Branches Out," Richie Cunningham spends the whole time trying to convince a gorgeous model that he’s a big deal hardware magnate seeking the right face for his company’s advertising campaigns.

It’s an episode all about forgetting who Richie Cunningham really is, and for actor Ron Howard, after Happy Days ended and he became a big deal movie director, you could say that he was ready to do just that in the real world, by putting some distance between him and the whole Cunningham family.

For more than a decade as Howard’s star rose as a director, he produced hit films that spanned genres. Rom-coms like Splash, sci-fi splendor like Cocoon, adventure-fantasy flicks like Willow, family comedy like Parenthood, and heart-clutching drama like Apollo 13. There was no genre where he couldn’t make magic.

No matter what the genre, though, you may have noticed that Howard didn’t try to fold in many actors from his Happy Days family into any of his hit movies.

For his TV mom Marion Ross, this was a huge bummer. She understood that Howard had to go on to do his own thing, but she was struggling as an actor. While she'd made an appearance in Ron Howard's 1977 feature directorial debut, Grand Theft Auto, that movie now looked like small potatoes compared to the megahits he was now working on.

But then in 1996, Ross ended up cast in a major motion picture without Howard’s help.

It happened when an earthquake forced Ross out of her Los Angeles home, and she decided to take a part in a Missouri theater production of Steel Magnolias.

The director of that production was Robert Harling, who had just been tapped to make his movie directorial debut by directing the sequel to Terms of Endearment.

Having enjoyed working with Ross on Steel Magnolias, Harling cast her in The Evening Star across from Shirley MacLaine, playing her maid.

Ross saw this role as her big chance to not just prove she had the acting chops to share scenes with MacLaine, but also to show to Howard that she was good enough to be in one of his big movies.

That’s why when The Evening Star came out on Christmas Day in 1996, Ross had a special Christmas wish she shared with The Atlanta Constitution. She wanted to be in one of Ron Howard’s next movies: "I can see why he couldn’t use anyone from Happy Days at first," Ross said, "But I hope this [movie] will change his mind."

Unfortunately, Ross’ Christmas wish has yet to come true. Howard continues to direct movies today, but he has never cast his former TV mom to be in any of his movies since Grand Theft Auto.

Ross is mostly retired from acting today but has contributed to a few projects within the past year, so our Christmas wish, if Ron Howard happens to see this: Maybe put Marion Ross in your next movie? Do it for Mrs. C!

 
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

47 Comments

Post a comment
bagandwallyfan52 11 months ago
Happy Days
Give The Band A Hand
Tonight at 6:30 pm
On METV
This episode Give The Band A
Hand has the Last Appearance
Of Chuck Cunningham played
By Gavan O Herlihy and has

The first appearance of
Richie's Band: Richie Potsie
Ralph and Bag.
bagandwallyfan52 11 months ago
On season one of Petticoat Junction there was a wonderful
Dance Song called THE
HOOTERVILLE HOP!!!!!
bagandwallyfan52 11 months ago
I liked the characters of
Junior Hocker (Russ Horton)
And Herbie Bates (Don Washbrook) on Season One
ONLY of Petticoat Junction.
Am I the only person who
Remembers Junior Hocker and Herbie Bates on PETTICOAT
JUNCTION on Season one only?
Does anyone Remember Moose
(Barry Greenberg)and Bag (Neil
J. Schwartz) and Bobby Melner
(Harris Kal)and Eugene Belvin (Denis Mandel) and Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein) on
Happy Days?Does anyone remember Bill Scott (David Kent)
And Chester Anderson (Buddy
Hart)and Tooey Brown (Tiger Fafara) on Leave It To Beaver?
Does anyone remember Andy
(Pat Cranshaw)And Doug (Doug
Robinson) on Alice!?
Andy and Doug were regular customers at Mel's Diner on
Alice.
louannmaryanncplboylefan 11 months ago
I like the GOMER PYLE USMC and
Happy Days Promo where GOMER PYLE is taking a photo of Richie
Al Howard Marion Joanie Potsie
Ralph and Fonzie .
Putting scenes from GOMER PYLE USMC and Happy Days Together is
Great . I also liked the Richie the
C Ad with scenes from Happy Days
Green Acres GOMER PYLE USMC ETC.
I'm a fan of Lou Ann Poovie (Elizabeth MacRae) Mary Ann
Summers (Dawn Wells) from
Gilligan's Island and Cpl. Boyle
(Roy Stuart) from GP USMC
My favorite castaways on Gilligan's Island were "AND THE REST".
I said above this comment that
My FAVORITE CASTAWAYS on
GILLIGAN'S ISLAND were
"AND THE REST" so who are my
2 Favorite Castaways on GI?
I guess nobody knows who my 2
Favorite Castaways are on
Gilligan's Island when I say that
My 2 Favorite Castaways on GILLIGAN'S ISLAND are
"AND THE REST".
Maybe WISEGUY knows the
Answer to my Gilligan's Island
Question.
cinamac 11 months ago
This story reminds me of some achievement award George Clooney received within the last few years. One of the tributes, from two actors who had costarred with him on ER, centered on how far he had come from a television series to a remarkable motion picture career, as an actor, director, producer and writer. At one point, they looked straight into the camera and lamented, How do we get a role in his films?
RichLorn 11 months ago
She portrayed one of the cocoons in the movie of the same name. Amazing makeup.
Pacificsun RichLorn 11 months ago
Yeah. In the day at least, that was some cool movie. For it's perspective that is.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 11 months ago
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year Pacificsun.

Always a joy chatting and Quizzing with you.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
I feel the same way. So cute to be exchanging Holiday Greetings here! And this clip is very enchanting! Thank you!
dmarkwind 11 months ago
"No matter what the genre, though, you may have noticed that Howard didn’t try to fold in any actors from his Happy Days family into any of his hit movies." This is not entirely true. Gavin O'Herily, who played Ritchie Cunningham's older brother Chuck in the first season of "Happy Days" before going off to college and never being seen or heard from again, was cast as "Airk Thaughbaer" in "Willow."
JamesCavender 11 months ago
Ron's movies were better than Happy Days by far. Did not like that show. Too canned, staged and frankly poorly written IMO.
DIGGER1 11 months ago
COME ON, RONNY!!!! HAVE A HEART, PLEASE?!!! GIVE YOUR "T.V. MOM" A CHANCE NOW, BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE, OKIE-DOKIE?!!! LOL!!!!
Pacificsun 11 months ago
We might be a second rate audience for some of these articles. But we're not stupid.

This article has the reverse effect of making Ron Howard look bad. Do you really think that’s Marion Ross’ intention?

Here are the reasons for my objection. As writers you must be hard up this holiday season finding more astute topics. There are a couple of things going on here which make the article irrelevant. 1) Have you heard of casting agencies? And do you really think Ms. Ross’ agent wouldn’t have her best interests at heart? Just because she hasn’t appeared in one of RH’s movies, doesn’t mean every opportunity is worth her while just because it’s his. I’ve heard this kind of article written about other actors. 2) There’s also the matter of compensation. And billing. And a lot of that has to do with an actor’s reputation. Hollywood is still a business. 3) Finally do you really think these actors don’t know how to call one another? Do you think they haven’t had lunch since the end of Happy Days? Or that RH is intentionally slighting her.
If so, I doubt that she’d be slinging hash for MeTV to promote one of their hardcore shows.

I think if you really wanted to validate the article you’d try to get RH’s input, or a least a third party viewpoint. The lack of research and authenticity is what’s destroying the reputation of journalism as a craft.
Michael Pacificsun 11 months ago
I didn't analyze it. I figured they wanted a Christmas related story. And like most of these,they take an old newspaper article, and retell it. I imagine if we read the original story, the "Christmas wish" might have been a small part, and maybe context would show it was more said in humor.

It is noteworthy that they dig through old newspapers, but it might be better to combine bits from different articles, rather than inflate one bit into an article here. I'm still not sure why John Lennon appearing at the Happy Days set got 2 articles.
Pacificsun Michael 11 months ago
If the jobs are paid or internships, the task is to promo the shows, period. Ideally specific episodes that are going to be shown during the upcoming week. No worries. Most of the articles turn out very well, and we're compelled to watch the episode, just to look for the "bit" being featured. No other retro network (around here, except Decades) even does that much.

It's hard to write about stuff that happened 40 years ago. When the people are gone. It'd be like us trying to make something in the Smithsonian look fresh and appealing! I get it.

True enough, I also like the way you put your perspective into it. The drawback lies in the retelling of anything. That's why I suggested digging a little deeper. Then it would be reeelly interesting.

Most of the classic TV actors who've survived this long are nice people. And deserve a good spotlight. Most of the time the articles work out well. It's just about balance that's all. Even if the writer has to put a little postscript of their own, into it. It isn't like Marion Ross isn't accessible to Weigel broadcasting. Clipped to their stipend ... did you know we've featured you this week, thank you for Happy Days!!
Avionik99 11 months ago
The truth is she is not that great an actor and has been typecast as Mrs "C". Thats 2 strikes right there. I totally understand his not wanted her in any major movie, I wouldn't either.
Pacificsun Avionik99 11 months ago
There are some actors who take a role and make it what they will of it. That's why they're hired. And usually among the best of them.

There are others who offer a given personality and they act to that, instead. You're hiring Shatner because he's Shatner (at this point) and a laundry list of others in the same circumstance. But you're not hiring him (at this point) because you need someone to play Othello.

Acting is an evolutionary business. And actors rise (usually) to their most famous character.
LoveMETV22 Avionik99 11 months ago
Hardly type casted. 1 show/series as wife/mother didn't define her other roles.
" The truth is she is not that great an actor" is your opinion: = -1 strike
" has been typecast as Mrs "C". = -1 strike
" his not wanted her in any major movie, I wouldn't either" again your opinion = -1 strike
For a recently semi retired 93 year old, she did well before and after her successful role on an iconic tv series.
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
This comment has been removed.
LoveMETV22 DanielZabo 11 months ago
Her role on Happy Days was her best known role. She had many credits to her career before and after Happy Days on tv and movies some receiving nominations for awards. She may not have been a "legend" but she did quite well in her time as an actress. Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to you as well. 🎄⛄
MarkSpeck DanielZabo 11 months ago
The only other thing I can think of was her semi-regular role as Drew's mom on The Drew Carey Show. Every other gig I know of hers was guest shots.
Pacificsun DanielZabo 11 months ago
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marion_Ross

That we're talking about her (still living) 50 years later, makes her "something" just in our memory. Who better to play Richie's (or Ron Howards) fictional mother (let's face it). And it doesn't need to be at the expense of anyone else.

How cool, she was in all these shows I LOVE: Mannix, Route 66, Mr. Novak, Death Valley Days, Hawaii Five-O, The Brady Bunch, The Fugitive, and Night Court.
LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 11 months ago
Nicely said.
snozberries44 11 months ago
Marion Ross not only appeared in Grand Theft Auto she also appeared in Skyward, a TV movie directed by Ron…. Not sure why she hasn’t been cast in his big budget films but to say he’s forgotten his roots isn’t exactly fair

Ron Howard directed Henry Winkler in Night Shift. Clint was in that film as well.

Tom Hanks was in an episode of Happy Days and starred in splash

As someone mentioned his brother Clint has been in 17 of his movies

His dad Rance has been in a ton of his movies as well.
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Tiny off topic reminder: A Charlie Brown Christmas airs on PBS Sunday, Dec. 19, at 7:30 p.m. ET.
Piglet LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Thanks for letting us know!
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Oh how cool! What a nice reminder.
Runeshaper LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Excellent!
Andybandit 11 months ago
That is a bummer. She could of someone's grandma.
SoCal72 Andybandit 11 months ago
True, she was great in, "Brooklyn Bridge," as "Sophie Berger."
LoveMETV22 11 months ago
LOL: I'm sure her wish list has changed in the past quarter century. I don't think its likely Ron Howard is reading MeTV stories. Both Ron and MeTV have Twitter Accounts. Tweet him the story, He'd probably enjoy it.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
I don't have Twitter. But if the feed can be sent his way, a little chatting about it, might get his (humorous) attention. And spark a little conversation if they meet accidentally again.
ncadams27 11 months ago
Wasn’t Marion Ross in Grand Theft Auto - an early Ron Howard film?
Peter_Falk_Fan ncadams27 11 months ago
Correctamundo! Not only did Ron Howard direct "Grand Theft Auto (1977)", he co-wrote it with his dad, Rance.
Peter_Falk_Fan 11 months ago
This comment has been removed.
I watched the official trailer on IMDb. I didn't recognize her until she spoke.
bagandwallyfan52 11 months ago
I would like to see Ron Howard
Direct a Happy Days Reunion
Movie called Whatever Happened To Chuck Cunningham?
Randolph Roberts could play
Chuck Cunningham and Marion
Ross could play Marion Cunningham .The plot would
Finally Reveal whatever happened to Chuck Cunningham
And Henry Winkler Fonzie
Ted McGinley AKA Roger Phillips
Neil J Schwartz AKA BAG ZOMBROSKI
Anson Williams AKA Potsie
Donny Most AKA Ralph Malph
Scott Baio AKA Chachi Arcola
Danny Butch AKA Spike
Denis Mandel AKA Eugene Belvin
Barry Greenberg Moose
Scott Bernstein Melvin Belvin
Misty Rowe Wendy
Tita Bell AKA Trudy
Crystal Bernard AKA KC Cunningham
Cathy Silvers Jenny Piccalo
Billy Warlock Flip Phillips
Could all be in this Reunion
Movie .Marion Cynningham
Asks Fonzie and the rest of
The Happy Days. Gang to
Find Chuck Cunningham because Mrs. C is.very sad and
Finding Chuck Cunningham
W
Whatever Happened to .Chuck Cunningham?
(Continued)
Marion Cunningham asks Fonzie and the rest of the
Happy Days Gang to find
Chuck Cunningham because Mrs. C is very sad
And finding Chuck Cunningham would make
Mrs. C very happy.
Ron Howard could have a
Cameo appearance as Richie in the movie
Whatever Happened To Chuck Cunningham ?
And the Reunion Movie
Could be Dedicated To
The MEMORY of
GAVAN O Herlihy AKA
Chuck Cunningham 1
And To The Memory of
Erin Moran AKA Joanie Cunningham
Harlow 1313 and Mrs. Phil
Harris and ALL Fans of
Happy Days let me know if
You like my idea for a Happy Days Reunion Movie
Called Whatever happened to Chuck Cunningham.
Rest In Peace
Gavan O Herlihy
Chuck Cunningham
1974
(1951-2021)
Gone But Not Forgotten
Happy Days along with other shows and movies are one of those classics that are best left in their original form. Remakes, recasts, never compare to what was perfect when it originated. Let the nostalgic shows remain unchanged.
Pacificsun LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Totally agree!
https://onmilwaukee.com/articles/gavanoherlihy
Michael 11 months ago
She should have got an iron clad contract. I'm sure Clint has one obligating his brother to give him a small role in every Ron Howard film.l

Or maybe their father insisted.
daDoctah Michael 11 months ago
Clint and Ron appeared together on an episode of NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!" in October, promoting their book "The Boys". On that show they talked a bit about the time Ron somehow failed to invite Clint to a premiere of one of his movies.
LoveMETV22 Michael 11 months ago
I think Clint has appeared in seventeen of Ron's films. Maybe he has had other non-acting roles in his other films ?
texasluva LoveMETV22 11 months ago
Clint was not hurting for acting roles. He has 251 credits to his name. Out of that 251 he has at least 91 movie roles 🤩. Don't forget about the quiz. I think next week instead of having one on Christmas Eve I will just pick out some movies for the group (whomever shows up at any time). That way you can have your Christmas wish (well almost since I am the provider). I will just give everyone the location. Maybe a day or two earlier. I'll try and pick out some Christmas theme ones and dump Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla
MrsPhilHarris texasluva 11 months ago
Wonderful because I wasn’t going to be able to make it to a Christmas Eve quiz.
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?