Ronny Howard had big dreams of hitting home runs

Opie swung for the fences and hoped to play center field.

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It's hard to imagine a time when Ron Howard might've had a different career. Today, his life seems inextricably linked with Hollywood. Howard went from TV royalty to galactic movie overlord. Of course, classic television fans will forever know him as "Ronny" Howard, as he was credited when he played Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. Other roles followed, and in 1974, Howard began starring in Happy Days, a look back on the '50s through rose-tinted glasses, much like his earlier role in American Graffiti.

Howard eventually left Happy Days to focus his time and attention on developing his skillset as a director. The rest is history, but bears repeating anyhow: He's since made spectacular pieces of cinema like Backdraft, Apollo 13, How the Grinch Stole Christmas, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man, and Frost/Nixon. The only thing that rivals his filmography as a director is his list of appearances as an actor.

But this "sure thing" wasn't always the case. When Ron was still "Ronny," he dreamt of putting up numbers on the scoreboard instead of on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes.

"When I grow up, I can play baseball in the baseball season and act in the acting season the rest of the year," said Howard, then just 10 years old, in a 1965 article in The Courier-Journal. It seems before giant contracts and executive producer credits, Howard was preoccupied with the same things any little boy would be. 

The young actor's career in the pictures didn't mean he didn't have the trappings of a regular childhood either. For instance, the kid's pay grade was not above some serious household chores.

"Every Saturday morning, I do yardwork mostly. I pull up weeds, rake leaves and sweep the sidewalk."

Those chores must've given the kid a great work ethic, because Howard hasn't ever been out of work since. Between 1982 and 2022, Howard never went more than three years without a directing credit, racking up more than 25 feature films in the interim. When he's not directing, Howard has sporadically acted throughout the years. Most recognizably, he's served as the narrator on Arrested Development. In addition, Howard is the founder and co-chair of Imagine Entertainment, through which he has produced such hits as Friday Night Lights8 Mile, and Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar, starring fellow former-child star Leonardo DiCaprio.

While that's all the makings of a legendary career and the envy of many a creative, in 1965, Howard was a little leaguer with dreams of going pro and playing left field.

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13 Comments

Bapa1 10 months ago
..........as long as his 'Pa' wasn't the ump!
MadMadMadWorld Bapa1 9 months ago
He's OUT! OUT! OUT!
Andybandit 10 months ago
Glad he didn't become a baseball player. Then he wouldn't of be the successful actor and director that he is today.
cperrynaples 10 months ago
Once again, sloppy proofreading! Ron STARTED Happy Days in 1974 [to split hairs, the pilot was shot in 1972] and he quit in 1980 to become a director! And Yes, Leonardo Dicaprio WAS a child star! He worked on Growing Pains and even my favorite soap Santa Barbara! He was a teenager when he got his first Oscar nomination for What's Eating Gilbert Grape!
harlow1313 cperrynaples 10 months ago
Gilbert is among my favorite films. Interestingly, the morbidly obese mother was an inexperienced actress. She seems very natural in the role.

The Peter Hedges novel, on which the film is based, is also quite good.
texasluva 10 months ago
As boys we most all had that same dream. To be that next Mickey Mantle or Sandy Kofax's of the MLB world. I've been to the old Dodger Stadium ( L.A. Memorial Coliseum) when 8 years old. The left field fence had a 40 foot high net all the way over to left center field. Played baseball up until Pony League. Had a softball team for 12 years played and coached. Won 72% of our games and met a lot of people during that time.

Ron Howard has had a great life as a child actor and top director of our times.
justjeff 10 months ago
If Ron had been able to pursue his dream of a baseball career, he would have been "Chuck Connors in reverse"... Connors started out as a sports jock, then ended up an actor. Ron started out as an actor...
Mblack 10 months ago
Kurt Russel played baseball betwee his time as a Disny actor and whe he broke through as an adult actor
cperrynaples Mblack 10 months ago
Right facts, lousy spelling! Have you considered being a proofreader for MeTV posts...LOL!
Moody cperrynaples 10 months ago
Now that's mean!
MadMadMadWorld Mblack 9 months ago
"Boy! Boy! Girl! Girl!" --'Jungle Boy' character on "Gilligan's Meets Jungle Boy" (Feb. 6, 1965), when he was 13 (b. Mar 17, 1951).
"...And that's all they'll ever get out of him!" --Skipper (Jonas Grumby), wonderfully played by Alan Hale
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