Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Parenthood Producer, Ron Howard, and his Burbank Roots

In 1958 Rance Howard and his wife, Jean Speegle Howard, moved their family to Burbank, California, so they could pursue acting. Rance, Jean, and son Clint all worked steadily, but it was the oldest son Ron that went on to become a Hollywood success story. He has not only appeared in successful movies and TV series, but has directed Academy Award winning films and performances. Most recently Ron has brought one of our favorite new shows to the small screen — an updated version of his 1989 film Parenthood.

The news NBC series starring Peter Krause, Lauren Graham, and Craig T. Nelson, which debuted March 2nd to rave reviews, tells the story of a suburban family like any other. They gather for meals, they play softball, they fight, they love, and they struggle with life. Sounds like it could have been Ron's upbringing in suburban Burbank.

Howard began his acting career playing boys from two other small towns — first Opie Talyor on The Andy Griffith Show and then Winthrop Peroo in The Music Man (remember the kid with the lisp who played the trumpet?). But when he wasn't working, Ronny played baseball and basketball, often at the Verdugo Recreation Center. In fact, his schedule on The Andy Griffith Show was arranged so he never missed little league and at 15 he took nine months off to play basketball. He also coached his younger brother Clint's baseball team.

In an interview with the Archive of America Television, Howard describes Burbank as "an industrial town… with a small town neighborhood feel."

While attending Burbank's John Burroughs High School, he met his future wife, Cheryl Alley. In an article for In Style magazine he said that he would sneak out to see Cheryl by telling his parents he had joined the cross-country team. Sounds like an episode of Parenthood.

Cheryl and Ron married in 1975 at the Magnolia Park United Methodist Church in Burbank with Happy Days co-stars Don Most, Anson Williams, and Tom Bosley at his side. He wore a pale blue tuxedo... how '70s. They have been married for 35 years defying the Hollywood odds.

Of course, Howard has gone on to become one of the most successful movie directors in history with a resume that includes films like A Beautiful Mind, Cocoon, Splash, Apollo 13, The DaVinci Code, and Frost/Nixon, but he has managed to stay grounded thanks to those small town roots.

Take a Burbank tour of Ron Howard's youth:
Verdugo Recreation Center—3201 W Verdugo Ave, Burbank, CA 91505
John Burroughs High School—1920 Clark Avenue, Burbank, CA 91506
Magnolia Park United Methodist Church—2828 West Magnolia Boulevard, Burbank, CA 91505

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