From parents Rance and Jean to brother Clint and daughters Bryce and Paige, Ron Howard’s family is one of the biggest acting dynasties in Hollywood. But the former Happy Days star has revealed some sad news about his clan that has changed their lives forever. And what Ron chose to say may have touched even the most unemotional among us.
Before Ron became an acclaimed director, however, he forged an acting career that made him successful in his own right – and his big break came when he was very young indeed. Ron was in fact only six years old when he first appeared as Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. Then his star rose even further when he landed the iconic role of Richie Cunningham in Happy Days. Cunningham is, indeed, a character with whom the actor is still synonymous to this day.
What’s more, Ron also made a name for himself on the silver screen. In particular, he won coveted parts in the likes of American Graffiti, The Shootist and Grand Theft Auto – the last of which he chose to direct, too. And, as it turned out, he would garner even more critical acclaim behind the camera. He picked up both Best Director and Best Picture Oscars for 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, for example, as well as Academy Awards nominations for 2008’s Frost/Nixon. His box office hit movies as a director, meanwhile, include Cocoon, Apollo 13 and The Da Vinci Code.
But, of course, Ron isn’t the only actor in his family. His mother Jean, for instance, racked up credits on more than 30 different TV shows – among them Married… with Children, Grace Under Fire and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her movie career only began in the mid ’70s, however – almost two decades after her son had made his big-screen debut in Frontier Woman.
Frontier Woman is also the film that gave Ron’s father Rance his first major screen acting role. Born in 1928, the head of the Howard dynasty began performing with a children’s touring theater company before sharing the stage with Henry Fonda in a production of Mr. Roberts. He also appeared alongside Ron in The Andy Griffith Show and youngest son Clint in Gentle Ben.
The patriarch proved to have an enduring movie career, too, with more than 100 big-screen credits to his name. And some of those parts were, furthermore, in films that his son directed. Rance cameoed as a minister in Apollo 13, for example, and also portrays Cardinal Beck in Angels and Demons. However, Rance wasn’t apparently averse to appearing in movies with Clint, either. Appropriately, the elder man plays his son’s on-screen father in dramedy Apple Seed, due for release in 2018.
What’s more, two of Ron’s children have also followed in their father’s footsteps. Bryce Dallas Howard has displayed her acting chops in The Village, As You Like It and Jurassic World, for instance. Bryce’s younger sister Paige, meanwhile, is notable for her performances in Adventureland and The Employer.
Ron’s wife Cheryl has even briefly appeared in many of his movies, with bit roles in Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind and Angels & Demons. But Cheryl, who wed the director in 1975, has more than one string to her bow. In 2005, for example, she published her first novel: a thriller named In the Face of Jinn.
Tragically, though, the Howard family suffered a major loss in November 2017 when their patriarch passed away. And Ron revealed the sad news about his father on social media. “Clint and I have been blessed to be Rance Howard’s sons. Today he passed at 89,” he wrote in a touching update on Twitter.
Ron went on to highlight the qualities that made Rance not only a great actor but also a great man. He continued, “[Rance] stood especially tall for his ability to balance ambition with great personal integrity. A depression-era farm boy, his passion for acting changed the course of our family history.”
And Ron wasn’t the only famous member of the Howard family to publicly give their respects to Rance. Bryce Dallas also took to social media to reveal her late grandfather’s favorite poem: Henry Van Dyke’s “Gone From My Sight.” That post was accompanied by the words “[Rance] could recite it from heart.”
In light of Rance’s death, several other celebrities would also share their reminiscences of the 89-year-old. And Russell Crowe, who had worked with both Ron and Rance on A Beautiful Mind, was one of them. Crowe wrote by way of tribute, “He was a fine man indeed was Rance Howard. Fine man, fine actor. Being in his company was always a pleasure.”
Meanwhile, Josh Gad would reveal how Rance had welcomed him with open arms upon Gad’s arrival in Los Angeles. He also tweeted, “Today we lost one of the greats: #RanceHoward, who I was proud to call a personal friend… He was a legend, both as a person & performer.”
Filmmaker Joe Dante, who had edited Grand Theft Auto, the 1977 film directed by Ron and co-written by Rance, also had warm words to say about the late star. He would describe Rance as “a stand-up guy who worked till the end” and “one of my favorite go-to actors.” In addition, producer Larry Karaszewski, who had worked alongside Rance on Ed Wood, would hail the veteran performer as “one of the true gentlemen in this business.”
But Rance had also been honored by his loved ones before his death. In particular, Ron paid heartwarming homage to his dad at a premiere of one of Rance’s last movies, Broken Memories. The film stars the late actor as an Alzheimer’s sufferer whose son is attempting to deal with his dad’s illness. And the screening Ron attended was staged to coincide with National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, which takes place in the U.S. each November.
And while at the event, Ron told the The Hollywood Reporter how much he respected his father. “He has an undying love of the process, which has made him appreciate every day on a film or television set,” the director added.
Ron went on, “[Rance has] never lost the youthful excitement for being a part of a process that tells a story that reaches audiences in different ways.” And, as it happens, his dad’s approach also seemed to have inspired his own work. “That always rubbed off on me, that joy of being lucky enough to be among the storytellers,” he revealed.
Bryce, too, was at the premiere, where she described her grandfather as “the greatest human being on the planet.” She added, “He’s never made the money that people dream of, and yet he’s carved out this incredibly unique and remarkable and beautiful career of a character actor. He’s an example of that stick-to-it-ness and what that adds up to in a life.”
Broken Memories itself, meanwhile, touches on a subject that Rance unfortunately had first-hand experience of dealing with. He lost his second wife to Alzheimer’s after completing the film; Judy Howard, who had married the star in 2001, passed away in January 2017. Rance had previously enjoyed a 51-year marriage to first wife Jean, who died in 2000.
And Rance’s own death would later be revealed as having been caused by heart failure, with a West Nile virus infection ruled to have been a contributing factor. Those mourning his passing can, however, still see the veteran actor again on the big screen in forthcoming movies Old Soldier, The Christ Slayer and Apple Seed – as well as the many other films in which the star shone throughout his 60-year career.
Unfortunately, it’s nigh impossible to get through life without losing a loved one. And when you’re famous, this often means you have to share your grief with the world. Take former host of The Price is Right Bob Barker, for instance, whose touching display of devotion to his late wife hit the headlines.
One-time presenter of The Price is Right Bob Barker sadly lost his wife, Dorothy Jo, way back in 1981. But the former host of the longest-running U.S. daytime game show ever proved in 2017 that other things in life also have a great longevity. When news leaked of the emotional visit Barker made to his soulmate’s grave on the 36th anniversary of her death, it went to show that true love never dies. It was a heartfelt gesture which underlined the value the 94-year-old still places on the relationship with the love of his life and touched hearts everywhere.
Born in Darrington, Washington, on December 12, 1923, Robert William Barker grew up on South Dakota’s Rosebud Indian Reservation as an official Sioux tribe member. After serving as a U.S. Navy fighter pilot in World War II, the young man graduated with an economics degree from Drury College in Springfield, Missouri. And it was here that Barker took his first steps in broadcasting, landing a job at the local radio station.
After relocating to California in 1950, Barker was handed his own radio program. After six years of the eponymous show, he had made his name and a move to television. He was appointed host of the game show Truth or Consequences. A mixture of general trivia and zany stunts, the NBC program established Barker as a famous face nationwide. He would sign off each episode with, “Bob Barker saying goodbye, and hoping all your consequences are happy ones!” The star stayed on as its host until 1974.
Meanwhile, Barker would host numerous other TV programs during his 18-year Truth or Consequences stint, including the feel-good makeover vehicle End of the Rainbow and quiz show The Family Game. Nevertheless, it would be CBS’s The Price is Right that ensured Barker would become a TV legend. Indeed, he was a fixture on U.S. television screens well into the 21st Century, hosting the daytime version of the show for a remarkable 35 years from 1972 until 2007.
But, behind the scenes, Barker became an executive producer for the show in 1988. In this role, he created numerous new elements for The Price is Right, and he also banned foreign vehicles and items made from animal products from being used as prizes. In addition, Barker launched the $1,000,000 Spectacular high-profile specials for the brand. He also hosted three night-time seasons, and made several cameo appearances on the show following his retirement in 2007.
Nevertheless, Barker’s time on The Price is Right did not go by without a degree of controversy. In 1994, he was sued by Dian Parkinson after a two-year relationship between the pair broke down. The ex-model alleged that Barker had sexually harassed her while she was working on the show. Parkinson eventually dropped the case due to concern over her mental wellbeing. A year later, Holly Hallstrom, another model who worked on the series, filed a lawsuit against Barker for “malicious persecution” and “wrongful termination.” This case was finally settled in 2005.
In fact, at least seven former The Price is Right employees subsequently filed lawsuits against Barker for either wrongful dismissal or sexual harassment over the years. The host had previously cultivated a reputation as an all-round nice guy, largely thanks to his tireless efforts as an animal rights activist. Indeed, the star has donated millions of dollars to various animal-related causes.
As well as his game show duties, Barker also occasionally ventured into acting. He appeared as himself in the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore, portrayed Mel Harris’ father on NBC comedy Something So Right and made cameos in the sitcoms Yes, Dear, The Nanny and How I Met Your Mother. He also voiced the character Bob Barnacle, a fishy photographer, on the animated smash SpongeBob Squarepants.
All of this screen time saw Barker amass an impressive amount of accolades during his lengthy career. He has 19 Emmy Awards to his name, including 14 for Outstanding Game Show Host. He also has a Hollywood Walk of Fame star, and has received inductions into the Television Hall of Fame and the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame. In 2007 Time magazine named Barker the Greatest Game Show Host of All Time.
And for almost 30 years of his illustrious TV career, Barker was able to share his success with his wife Dorothy Jo. The pair had met when Barker was aged just 15 at a show by legendary jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. The high-school sweethearts later walked down the aisle in 1945 during a furlough from Barker’s wartime duties.
Like Barker, Dorothy Jo carved out a career in the entertainment world, enjoying success as a commercials jingle singer. She also devised a TV talent competition with her husband for Los Angeles high-schoolers in the mid-1950s. However, her life was tragically cut short at the age of 57 when she succumbed to lung cancer in October, 1981.
In an interview with ABC News in 2007, Barker declared that he had no intention to marry again following Dorothy Jo’s death. He also credited his wife for sparking his lifelong interest in animal rights. “She was ahead of her time. She really was,” Barker avowed. “She stopped wearing fur coats before anyone was stopping. She became a vegetarian before people were becoming vegetarian. And I gradually did the same thing with her.”
And Barker proved just how much Dorothy Jo still means to him when he made a special visit to her final resting place. On October 19, 2017, the 36th anniversary of his wife’s passing, the star took a bouquet of flowers to lay on her grave at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale, CA. Barker was pictured cleaning his wife’s headstone during his 20-minute visit of quiet contemplation, and later the photos later leaked online.
Needless to say, Barker’s emotional graveside vigil touched the hearts of many people on social media. One Twitter user commented, “Wow. Now that’s real love.” Another wondered, “Maybe there is such a thing as a #Soulmate.” The story was featured on U.K. tabloid the Daily Mail’s website and a reader there responded, “I have so much respect and admiration for people like his wife who battled for animals all her life and her husband likewise. God love them both.”
But Barker has not been entirely alone since Dorothy Jo’s death. In 2007 People magazine reported that he had enjoyed an on-off relationship with Nancy Burnet, an animal-rights activist, for the best part of two decades. Barker was quoted as saying, “Right now she’s unhappy with me, so I’m not sure we’ll get back together.”
And, of course, there was also that two-year fling with Dian Parkinson, the model from The Price is Right who later sued Barker for sexual harassment. Nonetheless, in a 2002 interview with CNN, the star insisted, “As God is my witness, I have never forced her to do one thing that she did not want to do, ever – sexually or any other way, ever.”
But more recently, the nonagenarian Barker has made headlines for his ailing health. In June 2017 he was taken to hospital after falling and injuring his head at his L.A. home. Two years previously he had required stitches in his forehead after tripping on a sidewalk. However, his catalog of health problems actually began way back in 1991 when the star suffered a mild stroke.
Since then he has also undergone surgery to remove a blockage in a carotid artery in 1999 and to reduce the size of his enlarged prostate in 2002. That same year, Barker also suffered a second stroke while sunbathing. In addition, his tanning habit has also resulted in numerous skin cancer scares.
Nevertheless, the TV legend proved he was made of stern stuff and continued working. But now he has been retired for a long time and friends are aware that he is becoming increasingly frail. In September 2017 an insider told entertainment website Radar Online that the 94-year-old has accepted the end may be near. “Everyone’s praying for Bob, but his health is deteriorating rapidly,” the source claimed. “We fear his final curtain could come any day.”
The same informant then added, “The next fall could be deadly – and Bob knows it. But he’s not afraid. He said, ‘When it’s my time, I’m ready to die.’ I think he can’t wait for the day when he and Dorothy can be reunited.” In fact, Barker is reportedly so sure that he will be joining his wife soon that funeral planning has begun. According to Radar Online, the star has had a tombstone engraved with his name and birthdate in preparation. Hopefully, it will be a while yet before we hear, “Bob Barker saying goodbye…” for the last time.