Way before Happy Days, Ron Howard became Garry Marshall's dream TV star

They met tossing baseballs at Desilu Studios when Ronny was just a boy.

The Everett Collection

In the mid-Sixties, Garry Marshall started writing for The Lucy Show, and he found himself frequently at Desilu Studios.

Any time he visited the studio, he’d be drawn to interact with the star of a different show filming there: Ron Howard of The Andy Griffith Show.

Approaching the young star during his rehearsal breaks, Marshall didn’t immediately begin plotting the eventual series he would do with Howard, but instead, he simply tossed around a baseball with Ronny.

That’s how they got to know each other, way before Happy Days started.

"I had known him since he was a little kid," Marshall wrote in his memoir My Happy Days, adding, "From the time he first appeared on television, he had the dream temperament of an actor."

To Marshall, the "dream temperament" meant that "his personality was on an even keel, and not subject to the slightest high or low."

Marshall knew even way back then, "If I had to pick the perfect actor to work with on a sitcom, Ron was it."

Almost exactly a decade later, Marshall’s dream would come true when Ron Howard joined the cast of Happy Days.

"He reminded me of a professional basketball player," Marshall wrote. "He had the ability to shoot the ball and score, but also the strength and focus to pass the ball to others to let them score, too."

Of course, on Happy Days, Henry Winkler famously stole the spotlight from Howard and eventually Howard left the show.

Marshall had no hard feelings over Howard’s departure, though.

He was still caught up in gratitude that he’d gotten a chance to work with his dream TV star for such a long stretch of time.

"To have him on Happy Days as long as we did was a gift not only to the show, but also to me and the other actors," Marshall wrote.

Marshall was a TV writer who dreamed big, and if you’re a fan of his shows, you know that his characters also had similarly big dreams – as well as literal dreams that haunted them.

On Happy Days, dreams became a more dominant recurring theme once Fonzie took over as star, with several episodes like "Welcome to My Nightmare," "The Spirit Is Willing," and "My Favorite Orkan" spinning out plots where whole episodes vaguely or directly seemed to be all just a dream.

But Marshall did give Richie the first dream sequence of Happy Days in an episode called "R.O.T.C."

In "R.O.T.C.," Richie has a nightmare where all his friends and family put him on trial for being bossy and generally the absolute worst, with Fonzie serving as judge. The dream sequence ends with Richie declared guilty of his social crimes and covered in whipped cream.

Though he punished Howard in this nightmare scene, Marshall was always loyal to his original Happy Days star.

To him, Ron Howard remained a dream to work with every day he stayed on set, which was why Marshall agreed with Howard and refused to change the show’s name to Fonzie when the network suggested it might bring in more fans.

Even without Richie, the show would go on as Happy Days.

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bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
Happy Days Quiz And an Article
On Whatever Happened To The Cast Members Of Happy Days?
Looks like they have done 18 Happy Days quizzes , that's just with HD as a search. I'm sure there are other quizzes that mention HD in some form. They have done articles on most of the main cast members for interest purposes. Minor characters - some have been covered but on the whole they just don't have widespread interest, for articles anyways.
I was wondering how I can
Pull up those Happy Days
There are a few other posters on here that share your enthusiasm for Happy Days.
Well obviously bagandwallyfan52 is you- you just changed 52 to 80.
louannmaryanncplboylefan, Mark091, and a few others.
Go to quizzes and enter Happy Days in the Search link.
JeffBerthold 27 months ago
I’m number three of 4 brothers. My two orders were ‘50’s’ raised and I loved the cars and music it represented. Didn’t enjoy the change to more modern times in the Happy Days series.
Pacificsun 28 months ago
I'm glad they never changed the name to "Fonzie's Happy Days." That was never the premise. And, as my family watched the show together, there was a great character for each member, to identify with." Fonzie appealed to the girls, no doubt. But beyond his sex appeal he was one dimensional, except for the few episodes they wrote directly for him, to explore a few feelings. Instead, we know a lot more about Ron Howard, his talents, personality, and now his good natured approached to stardom and moving on to better things.

Nicely written article, thanks MeTV Staff writers!!
CoreyC Pacificsun 28 months ago
Henry Winkler was interviewed and another option was to give Fonzie a spinoff but he knew that it would fail.
Pacificsun CoreyC 28 months ago
I didn't realize that. Henry Winkler was fine as an actor! Not demeaning his role in HD but that's just how it was written for him, and to please his fans. Otherwise he appears to be a very thoughtful, talented individual.
CoreyC Pacificsun 28 months ago
I just remembered Henry said it on a reunion show.
CoreyC 28 months ago
Garry Marshall was a class act. It was ABC who wanted to change the show to Fonzie's Happy Days and Ron Howard was justifiable angry and Garry fought against the change and won. Ron left to pursue his dream of becoming a director. Also the Richie character has become annoying and more nerdier to counter Fonzie.
bagandwallyfan80 CoreyC 27 months ago
Potsie Webber
Richie Cunningham
Ralph Malph
Eugene Belvin
Melvin Belvin
Chuck Cunningham
Roger Phillips
Jenny Piccalo
CoreyC bagandwallyfan80 27 months ago
The Belvin Brothers were NOT COOL!!!
bagandwallyfan80 CoreyC 27 months ago
You are right .
MANDEL) and Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein) were NOT
Eugene and Melvin were
Is there anyone else on my
List of Cool Nerds of Happy Days who should be taken
And instead put on The
UNCOOL NERDS Of Happy Days List?
Maybe Officer Kirk should
Be Added to the UNCOOL
NERDS Of Happy Days List.
I wonder which List Al
Delvecchio belongs on?
Roy Hinkley (Russell Johnson)
(An EGGHEAD is a smart
Camp Henderson
Cpl Nick Cuccinelli
Tommy Leonetti)
Cpl Boyle(Roy Stuart)
UNCOOL NERDS of Mayberry
Ernest T Bass
Goober Pyle
Gomer Pyle
Howard Sprague
Warren Ferguson
DAPHNE (Hillary Horan)on
Happy Days
Leather(Suzi Quatro)
Kat Mandu(Deborah Pratt)
Arlene Nestrock (Tannis G
Arlene Holder(Laurette Spang
Cool Dogs
Lisa Douglas's Dog
Huckleberry Hound
Spike(Tom and Jerry)
Judy Hensler
Penny Woods
Arnold Horshak
Jughead Jones
Moose(Archie Comics)
Lumpy Rutherford
Eddie Haskell
Cool Cousins
Spike And Chachi
Patty And Cathy Lane
Richie Cunningham and
Roger Phillips
Great Practical Jokers
Ralph Malph
Wally Plumstead
Uncle Arthur
Eddie Haskell
Lumpy Rutherford
Funny Guys In Hooterville
Hank Kimball
Uncle Joe
Eb Dawson
Cool Deputy
Barney Fife
OFFICER Kirk on Happy Days
Roscoe P. Coltrain
Cool Comment Person
Coldnorth CoreyC 25 months ago
I swear BagandandWallyfan etc are either a relative or maybe actually the real actors
Meghan63 28 months ago
Just read the autobiography he and his brother wrote. The Boys. Very interesting. He was very straight arrow and wanted to go to USC film school and be a director since he was a kid. He didn't really want to do Happy Days. I think we're all glad he did.
madvincent Meghan63 28 months ago
Looking back he’s probably glad he did it too.........
Pacificsun Meghan63 28 months ago
Nicely made point!
MrsPhilHarris 28 months ago
I have never heard a negative story about Ron Howard.
ELEANOR MrsPhilHarris 28 months ago
Many thanks to Andy Griffith for letting Ronny have a normal childhood. His Little League schedule was posted in the office and they ensured that he got to play in all of his games.
MrsPhilHarris ELEANOR 28 months ago
It’s nice to hear that working on that show wasn’t a nightmare for the kids.
Pacificsun ELEANOR 28 months ago
Yes, TAGS was probably the perfect show he could've played in, given the gentle philosophy of AG and the kindness he felt towards the characters. Meaning, no superfluous comedy at their expense! They really respected him as a young actor.
Pacificsun MrsPhilHarris 28 months ago
Of course he had the perfect father (Rance) for being in the Industry too, folks kind of forget that.
MrsPhilHarris Pacificsun 28 months ago
I agree. I think the parents really made sure their boys were properly looked after. No stage parent antics.
Coldnorth MrsPhilHarris 25 months ago
Ron’s dad actually being around probably gave Ron more confidence when he was a young boy. I like that
Andybandit 28 months ago
Nice story. Ron Howard is a great actor and director. Garry Marshall was great director and writer. To bad Garry and Penny Marshall passed away to soon.
Coldnorth Andybandit 25 months ago
Their family dinners in the younger years must have been a hoot. Then I read Penny’s book. Now I’m not so sure. But they were a talented family
Runeshaper 28 months ago
That's so AWESOME! Marshall saw Howard as a good actor when he was a kid then got to work with him on an AMAZING series! (-:
Deleted 28 months ago
This comment has been removed.
LoveMETV22 28 months ago
Yes, she did a good job as Myrna on The Odd Couple too. Show business definitely ran in their family.
madvincent 28 months ago
Kind of like being the Mayor of a city and getting all you relatives the best jobs in town...........lol
LoveMETV22 28 months ago
How fortunate we were to have a great writer/producer/actor and director in Garry Marshall. His decisions for Happy Days made it the success it was, as well as the other programs he produced. He certainly made the right decisions with Ron Howard and Henry Winkler as well. His many other contributions were priceless in shaping film and television from the 60's onward.
bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
I think that Ron Howard was and still is a great actor and director .I liked the. Episode
Where Richie is accused of being The Kissing Bandit and
Richie Potsie and Ralph are
Chasing the real kissing bandit
Up the stairs in the Cunningham
House .Chachi Arcola Scott Baio
Had a very strange dream where
He made a deal with the devil's
nephew Melvin Scratch(Richard
Levin) to become warm and
A wonderful.I liked the dream
Of Richie Cunningham Ron Howard about ROTC and Wendy
(Misty Rowe) was in Richie's dream.Fonzie had a Nightmare
While Listening to the song
In The Still Of The Night by the
Five Satins and Fonzie met a
Girl ghost Nancy Haley and
Fonzie and Nancy were in a
Stalled car on railroad tracks.
Fonzie had another nightmare
In Welcome To My Nightmare
Where Dr. Ludlow wanted to
Harness Fonzie's cool to Dougie
Who looked like Fonzie.
One of the worst real life
Nightmare is when in 1980
Ron Howard said GOODBYE
To Richie Cunningham and
Happy Days. And then Richie
Cunningham joined Chuck and
Other Happy Days characters
And then Richie Cunningham and Ralph Malph both became
ssglick bagandwallyfan52 28 months ago
Your comments are very hard to read. Please check your formatting and let the text wrap around. Thank you.
Gary ssglick 28 months ago
Actually, they're pointless. They do this on other threads.
bagandwallyfan52 ssglick 28 months ago
My comments are not hard
to read .Pacificsun told me
Not to let it bother me when persons like WISEGUY Al Bundy and
Ssglick say mean things
And my comments are
Just as good as anyone
Else's. There's an old.
Expression and it goes like
this:If you can't say anything. nice about someone then don't say
anything at all.
bagandwallyfan52 Gary 28 months ago
My comments are NOT
Pointless and Pacificsun
And Love Metv 22 said not
To let it bother me when
Persons like you and ssglick and Wiseguy and
Al Bundy and Stephanie
Day mean things to hurt
Other people's feelings.
Pacificsun said that mean
Spirited comments are not
welcome on The METV
Comment Line.
Like they say on HAPPY Days Sit On It ssglick
Gary Al Bundy Stephanie
And Wiseguy.
When the characters on
Happy Days and Gilligans Island and Gomer Pyle USMC have good dreams
Or nightmares are some of
the funniest episodes of
Those 3 sitcoms.
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