Brow Beat

Actor Rance Howard, Ron Howard’s Father, Has Died at 89

Actor Rance Howard, his wife Judy, his son Ron Howard and his wife Cheryl Howard arrive at the premiere of Cinderella Man in 2005.

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Rance Howard, the patriarch of the Howard show business family, has died at the age of 89, Variety reports. Howard, born Harold Beckenholdt of Oklahoma, adopted the name Rance Howard when he moved his family to California and founded a dynasty that’s now in its third generation. His sons are actor Clint Howard and actor/director Ron Howard; his grandchildren include actors Paige Howard and Bryce Dallas Howard. Ron Howard announced his father’s death on Twitter:

Rance Howard and Ron Howard actually made their film debut in the same movie, though Ron was only two at the time: a 1956 Western called Frontier Woman. As his sons’ careers as child actors took off, Rance Howard appeared alongside them, taking guest roles on The Andy Griffith Show and Happy Days with Ron and a recurring role on Gentle Ben with Clint.  As Ron turned to directing, his father continued collaborating with him, co-writing and appearing in his son’s feature debut as a director, the Roger Corman production Grand Theft Auto. Over the years, he showed up in several of Ron’s movies, including Splash, Cocoon, A Beautiful Mind, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Notable non-Howard-family projects ranged from 1967’s Cool Hand Luke all the way to 2013’s The Lone Ranger, with stops along the way for several Joe Dante films, as well as Ed Wood and Ghosts of Mississippi. He also had an unforgettable turn as the farmer who drives his sheep into a city council meeting in Chinatown.

Howard’s first wife, Jean Speegle Howard, died in 2000. He then married Judy Howard, who died in January of this year. He is survived by his two sons and four grandchildren.