This 1975 TV movie was a Howard family affair

A Mark Twain adaptation saw the whole family together.

Hollywood can be a devastatingly nepotistic workplace. For young actors and creators trying to break in, it must seem like you have to already know someone. Auditions are filled with Culkins and Skarsgårds and Coppola descendants.

But, here's the thing, that's not always bad. There are plenty of great examples of talented families that needn't rely on their surname for jobs. That's the case with the Howard family. Ron Howard is the highest-profile of the clan. He started his career as a child actor, starring in projects like The Music Man, and The Andy Griffith Show. As he grew up, Howard headlined the cast of Happy Days as Richie Cunningham, before pivoting behind the camera. He then had a great career as a director.

Alongside Ron was his brother Clint, who guest-starred in shows like The Andy Griffith Show and Star Trek. As Clint got older, he became a B-movie icon, starring in plenty of lower- to mid-budget movies, cementing his place in Hollywood history.

But did you know the Howard brothers' parents also acted? They most notably appeared in the son Ron's movies. But, for one 1975 TV movie, the entire family appeared together alongside another familiar face.

A 21-year-old Ron starred as the titular character in a televised Huckleberry Finn adaptation. Along with Ron, Clint portrayed Arch, a young boy who lends Huck Finn a mule. Father Rance played Pap Finn, and Mom Jean appeared as the Widow Douglas.

In a Tampa Bay Times article from that same year, Ron spoke about the family affair.

"When I was young, my father worked with me in preparation for an acting career. That's all I ever knew or really wanted. Now, it's sort of a tribute to him — actually to my mom as well. The show is a document to our faith in each other's ability."

Howard admitted to self-consciousness around his family on set, "but it faded the moment the cameras started to grind."

Here's a little bonus trivia item: The movie also starred Donny Most, who starred alongside Ron Howard as Ralph Malph on Happy Days.

Do you remember the 1975 Huckleberry Finn television film? Let us know in the comments section below!

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DocQuatermass 5 months ago
Long a fan of Ron and Clint I became a fan of Rance with the Clint in the film Gentle Giant and the TV series it spawned Gentle Ben. Always enjoyed spotting Rance in films and TV series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The X-Files, and Seinfeld. Recently rewatched on Tubi the syndicated Fred Dryer/Geoffrey Lewis/Tim Thomerson series, Land's End (which, sadly, was canceled after a season) with Rance in one episode and Jean Speegle Howard in another episode (playing Geoffrey Lewis's character's mom.

Huckleberry Finn (1975)
blondiebabeo 5 months ago
Ron Howard was such a cute kid, I love when he's on TAGS episodes, and Don Knotts. I thought they made the show so good.
tootsieg 5 months ago
I do not remember this TV movie.
kwlcat 5 months ago
Based on the picture for this article Ron looks like his dad and Clint looks like his mom. I didn't know she acted.
KellyO kwlcat 5 months ago
Look up a picture of her when she was young. If you put a wig on Clint you’d have twins.
KellyO kwlcat 5 months ago
I guess you wouldn’t have twins, I meant they look so alike! She was an actress in early Hollywood and quit when she had kids. She did a lot of guest roles into the 90s.
I remember her on Buffy the Vampire Slayer!
MaryMitch kwlcat 5 months ago
I remember especially in 2 roles: (1) Jim Lovell's mother in "Apollo 13" and (2) the elderly woman who (with her husband) were nudists neighbors on one episode of "Roseanne".
DavidDowdyJr 5 months ago
I did have a DVD of Apollo 13 movie that features all-Howard family, but I never seen 1975 Huckleberry Finn featured all-Howard family, ok.
KellyO DavidDowdyJr 5 months ago
Ron didn’t act in Apollo 13, he directed only and his family all had roles. In Huck Finn they were all on screen in parts.
Rick 5 months ago
And Ralph Malph played Tom Sawyer! And to answer a question below, Antonio Fargas (Huggy Bear on Starsky and Hutch) played Jim.
Andybandit 5 months ago
I like when families work together, now shows or movies.
harlow1313 5 months ago
I wonder how they handled the character of Jim, the runaway slave.
MrsPhilHarris 5 months ago
I’m afraid I don’t know that movie.
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