Andy Griffith – A Brief Biography of the Superstar

Andy Griffith is a true icon of American television. He had a career spanning over fifty years, dividing himself between theatre, song, cinema and television.

The actor is perhaps best known for playing Matlock . He began his career playing the lead role in A Face in the Crowd by Elia Kazan in 1957.

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Click here to buy Andy Griffith stickers and t-shirts

He then toured under the direction of Mervyn LeRoy or, more recently, in Waitress by Adrienne Shelly.

But the actor has especially marked the small screen with series like The Andy Griffith Show where he plays Andy Taylor, a nice and philosophical sheriff from a small town in the United States.

The show was a really huge success, regularly ranked among the most popular sitcoms ever made, and which lasted 8 seasons.

In 1968, when the series stops, Griffith turns especially to do telefilms. Much later he experienced a resurgence in popularity with Matlock.

This production, initiated by NBC in 1986 before being taken over by ABC, was spread over nine seasons, or 194 episodes.

Andy Griffith and Carol Huston star in Matlock.

Andy Griffith as Ben Matlock

Andy Griffith played Benjamin Matlock, a famous defence lawyer who leads the cases for which he is responsible thanks to his daughter, Charlene (first season), the lawyer Michelle Thomas, and the private detective Tyler Hudson.

This legal series, in the tradition of Perry Mason, was widely broadcast, in the second part of the evening and then sometimes during the day, before eventually disappearing from screens…only to return in syndication.

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He – Andy, that is – was the executive producer of the series, as well as the writer and director on some episodes.

Seen as a guest-star in many shows (Hawaii State Police, Dawson, among others), Andy Griffith remains America’s favorite sheriff from here to across the Atlantic, which he played in the 1960s.

He was also the on-screen dad of a certain Ron Howard, future Happy Days’ Richie Cunningham and future successful director.

For the record, Andy Griffith wanted to become an opera singer.

In the 1940s he turned to music, which he later studied and taught.

It was when he met his future wife, actress Barbara Edwards that he began acting on stage.

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One of his sketches, What it was was football , was one of the most popular when it was released in 1953.

In 1981, he was nominated for an Emmy Award thanks to the TV movie Murder in Texas.

The Life & Times of Ron Howard

Ronald Howard, more commonly known as Ron Howard, is an American director, actor, and producer, born in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 1, 1954.

As a young actor, he played Richie Cunningham, the central character of the 1970’s classic series Happy Days.

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In the following decade, he established himself as a director by creating several hit feature films: Cocoon (1985), Willow (1988), and Backdraft (1991).

He gained critical recognition during the years 1990-2000: Apollo 13 (1995) earned him a Golden Globe nomination for best director, then two biopics with Russell Crowe, A Beautiful Mind (2001) and Cinderella Man (2005) allowed him to win the Oscar for best director and best film.

He confirms this with another historic film, Frost/Nixon (2008), hailed with an Oscar nomination for best film and best director.

During the following years, he continued his collaboration with Tom Hanks (beginning with Splash (1984) and, later, Apollo 13, followed by the Robert Langdon adventure series (2006-2016).

His films have grossed over $3 billion at the worldwide box office.  Now let’s look at him in more depth.

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Private Life & Family

Ronald William Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma on March 1, 1954.

He is the son of comedians Rance Howard and Jean Speegle Howard, he is also the older brother of actor Clint Howard.

Ron Howard got married on June 7, 1975 to actress Cheryl Aley. They have four children, including actress-director Bryce Dallas Howard.

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Television Revelation (1970s)

As a child star, Ron Howard began on the screen at the age of eighteen months in Frontier Woman then six months later under the direction of his father in the play The Seven Year Itch.

At the age of five, he played a small role in The Journey by Anatole Litvak, and then began appearing on television in dozens of dramas and series.

Ron, or “Ronny” Howard as he was then called, played Opie Taylor in the Andy Griffith Show in 1960.

opie taylor ron howard

Click here to get an Opie Taylor T-shirt

In 1973, he came to mainstream prominence when he played the role of Steve Bolander in George Lucas ‘ film American Graffiti.

He was then invited to an episode of the M*A*S*H series at the end of 1973.

After high school, he played the role of Richie Cunningham in the television series Happy Days in 1974.

He left the series in 1980, contenting himself with making a few sporadic reappearances in 1983 and 1984.

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Move to Directing Comedies (1980s)

While pursuing his career as an actor in the cinema, Ron Howard embarked on directing in 1977, with the dramatic comedy, Grand Theft Auto, then the comedy Night Shift in 1982.

For this one, he directs his ex-colleague Henry Winkler – and above all, we have Splash, which allowed him not only to achieve great commercial success in 1984, proceeding to direct Tom Hanks for the first time while trying his hand at science fiction.

The following year he embarked on a dramatic register with the fantastic melodrama Cocoon.

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He nevertheless continued to diversify on the lighter ground: leading Michael Keaton for the satire Gung Ho, then delving into the fantasy epic for Willow (1988), and directing the family comedy-drama Parenthood in 1990.

Some of his films divide the critics, and some are critically acclaimed.

Recognition For Dramatic Films (1990s)

Ron Howard kicked off the 1990s by directing the acclaimed action thriller Backdraft, with a cast of Hollywood film veterans: Kurt Russell, William Baldwin, Robert De Niro, and Donald Sutherland.

ron howard backdraft

He continued in 1992 with a badly received romance, Far and Away – carried by the tandem of mega-stars of the decade Tom Cruise / Nicole Kidman – but returned to criticism for the comedy-drama The Paper, in 1994.

In 1995, he experienced the second major success of his career with Tom Hanks – the space adventure Apollo 13 enjoyed wide critical and commercial success and earned the filmmaker a citation from the Directors Guild of America as best director, and received the prize for best film at the Directors Guild of America Awards in 1996.

The same year, he delivered the thriller The Ransom, worn by Mel Gibson and Rene Russo.

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He left the decade with a nod to television with the satire Live on Edtv (1999).

Adaptations and Biographies (2000s)

The 2000s will be marked by numerous commercial projects, from which only two biopics with Russell Crowe will emerge, both critically acclaimed.

Indeed, after having created the popular family comedy that is an adaptation of The Grinch in 2000, he returned to the dramatic fare two years later.

ron howard the grinch

The filmmaker’s critical consecration came in 2002 when he received the Oscar for Best Director at the 74th Academy Awards for A Beautiful Mind, which also won the Oscar for Best Film.

The film is a biography of John Forbes Nash (portrayed by Russell Crowe), a great mathematician with paranoid schizophrenia.

His media coverage was then at its height: He himself provided his voice in several episodes of the series The Simpsons in 1998, 1999, and 2002.

In 2003, he ventured into western terrain with The Missing, a dramatic piece flanked by two stars in Cate Blanchett and Tommy Lee Jones, which convinced neither the critics nor the public.

ron howard the missing

On the television side, he produced, in the same year, the television comedy Arrested Development (TV series), created by Mitchell Hurwitz.

The filmmaker also lends his voice to the program’s narrator. Critics are good, but the weak hearings contribute to the top of the program in 2006, at the end of three seasons.

In 2005, the Ron Howard/ Russell Crowe duo reunited for another biography From Cinderella Man, which also marked the former’s return to writing. The reviews were good.

ron howard da vinci code

Ron Howard then accepts an openly commercial project: the adaptation of Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s bestseller, scheduled for the end of 2006.

This project allows him to find success with Tom Hanks for a third time, this time as lead character Robert Langdon.

The adaptation opened at the 59th Cannes Film Festival and was a box office hit ($550 million), the director’s biggest hit. Yet the film will receive disastrous reviews, the worst of his career.

In 2008, he came to defend a more intimate film: the biography Frost/Nixon, the hour of truth, adapted from the play by Peter Morgan.

FROST/NIXON, Frank Langella as Richard Nixon, director Ron Howard, on set, 2008. ©Universal/courtesy Everett Collection

This test allows him to deliver a political thriller recounting the televisual confrontation between the American president Richard Nixon and the presenter David Frost and he reconnects in a spectacular way with criticism.

The decade nevertheless ends with the sequel to Da Vinci Code: an adaptation of the novel Angels and Demons, also by Dan Brown. It is a new box office success despite very poor reviews.

2010s

In 2011, the comedy The Dilemma was a critical and commercial flop, which did not even repay its budget.

In 2013, however, the feature film Rush allowed him to reconnect with success. This feature film on the world of Formula 1 tells the famous rivalry between the Austrian drivers Niki Lauda and British driver James Hunt in the 1970s.

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The film is acclaimed by the press, and the receipts are satisfactory, despite limited distribution.

The following year, he returned to comedy, but this time on television, co-producing the fourth season of Arrested Development, launched in 2013 by the Netflix platform.

In 2015, he directed the adventure blockbuster In the Heart of the Sea, which was nevertheless quickly considered a failure, despite the presence of rising star Chris Hemsworth, whom he had already directed in Rush 3 years earlier.

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In 2016, he continued the saga of Robert Langdon’s adventures with the esoteric thriller Inferno, adapted from the eponymous novel released in 2013. Reviews were as bad as for the previous opus.

In the summer of 2017, he was the honorary president of the 13th edition of the Festival in Nîmes.

In June 2017, two days after Lucasfilm announced the dismissal of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, Ron Howard is called to take over the direction of the film Han Solo released in May 2018.

In July 2018, he is announced to direct the pilot of 68 Whiskey, the television adaptation of an Israeli series called Charlie Golf One.

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2020s

It starts with Hillbilly Ellegy, a family drama based on the memoir of businessman JD Vance. The film airs in late 2020 on Netflix. He received several Oscar and Golden Globe nominations.

He then directed Thirteen Lives, a film about the Tham Luang cave rescue operations in June 2018 and released in 2022.

Clearly, Ron Howard has lived an amazing and full life, and he’s not done yet!  We will update this page as Ron gives us more amazing films to watch!

Until then… watch these!

Filmography – As an actor

1959 : The Fourth Dimension ( TV series ), episode Memory of childhood ( Walking Distance ): The child who plays marbles
1959 : Le Voyage ( The Journey ), by Anatole Litvak : little Billy Rhinelander
1960 – 1968 : The Andy Griffith Show by Sheldon Leonard ( TV series – 114 episodes): Opie Taylor
1961 : Five Minutes to Live ( Five Minutes to Live ), by Bill Karn : Bobby Wilson
1963 : We must marry daddy ( The Courtship of Eddie’s Father ), by Vincente Minnelli : Eddie Corbett
1965 : Village of the Giants , by Bert I. Gordon : Genius
1969 : Land of the Giants / In the land of the giants ( TV series ), by Irwin Allen : Jodar the little genius
1971 – 1972 : Ah! What Family ( The Smith Family ) ( TV series ): Bob Smith
1971 : The Wild Country ( The Wild Country ), by Robert Totten : Virgil Tanner
1973 : American Graffiti , by George Lucas : Steve Bolander
1973 : Happy Mother’s Day, Love George , by Darren McGavin : Johnny
1974 : Blood in the Dust ( The Spikes Gang ), by Richard Fleischer : The Richters
1974 – 1980 : Happy Days ( Happy Days ) ( TV series ): Richie Cunningham
1976 : Full throttle ( Eat My Dust ), by Charles B. Griffith : Hoover Niebold
1977 : The Last of the Giants ( The Shootist ), by Don Siegel : Gillom Rogers
1978 : Unleash the cars ( Grand Theft Auto ), by Ron Howard
1979 : American Graffiti, the sequel ( More American Graffiti ), by Bill L. Norton : Steve Bolander
1981 : Fire on the Mountain , TV movie by Donald Wrye : Lee Mackie
1998 : Welcome to Hollywood by Adam Rifkin and Tony Markes : himself
2001 : Osmosis Jones , by Bobby and Peter Farrelly : Tom Colonic (voice)
2003 – 2006 , then 2013 : Arrested Development , created by Mitchell Hurwitz , and produced by Ron Howard: Narrator (all seasons), then himself (last episode of season 3 and season 4)
2016 : The Odd Couple created by Matthew Perry and Danny Jacobson : Stanley
2016-: This Is Us , created by Dan Fogelman : himself
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2009 : Blame It ( On Alcohol ), performed by Jamie Foxx with the participation of T-Pain , clip directed by Hype Williams : single appearance

ron howard sticker

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As director – Feature films

1977 : Unleash the Speedsters ( Grand Theft Auto )
1982 : Undertaker Madness ( Night Shift )
1984 : Splash
1985 : Cocoon
1986 : Gung Ho, Sake in the Engine ( Gung Ho )
1988 : Willow
1989 : Spitting Image of a Model Family ( Parenthood )
1991 : Backdraft
1992 : Far and Away _
1994 : The Journal ( The Paper )
1995 : Apollo 13
1996 : The Ransom ( Ransom )
1999 : Live on Edtv ( EdTV )
2000 : The Grinch ( How the Grinch Stole Christmas )
2001 : An Exceptional Man ( A Beautiful Mind )
2003 : The Disappeared ( The Missing )
2005 : From shadow to light ( Cinderella man )
2006 : Da Vinci Code ( The Da Vinci Code )
2008 : Frost/Nixon
2009 : Angels and Demons
2011 : The Dilemma
2013 : Rush
2015 : In the heart of the ocean ( In the Heart of the Sea )
2016 : Inferno
2018 : Solo: A Star Wars Story
2020 : Hillbilly Elegy
2022 : Thirteen Lives

Short films

1969 : Old Paint
1969 : Deed of Daring-Do
1969 : Cards, Cads, Guns, Gore and Death
2010 : Presidential Reunion , Funny or Die skit

Documentaries

2013 : Made in America
2016 : The Beatles: Eight Days a Week
2019 : Pavarotti
2020 : Rebuilding Paradise
TV series
2017 – 2018 : Genius (episode 1: Chapter One )
2016 – 2018 : March

As a producer

1988 : Back to life ( Clean and Sober ), by Glenn Gordon Caron
1991 : Closet Land , by Radha Bharadwaj
1998 : From the Earth to the Moon ( From the Earth to the Moon ), miniseries of 13 50-minute episodes, with Tom Hanks , produced by HBO
2007 : In the Shadow of the Moon , by David Sington , documentary about the American Apollo lunar program
2008 : Changeling , by Clint Eastwood
2003 : Arrested Development , by Mitchell Hurwitz . He is also the voiceover in the original version.
2011 : Cowboys and Aliens , by Jon Favreau
2011 : J. Edgar , by Clint Eastwood
2011 : Restless , by Gus Van Sant 14
2016 – 2018 : Mars , TV series 15
2017 – 2018 : Genius , television series on the life of Einstein.
2017 : Barry Seal: American Traffic ( American Made ), by Doug Liman
2017 : The Dark Tower , by Nikolaj Arcel
2020 : Hillbilly Elegy

Honors – Awards

Golden Globes 1978 : Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy Television Series for Happy Days
Oscars 2002 : Oscar for Best Picture and Oscar for Best Director for A Beautiful Mind
Critics’ Choice Movie Awards 2015 : Louis XIII Genius Award

Tribute

(12561) Howard , asteroid named after him.