Growing up, Clint and Ron Howard never dreamed of stardom, as they had already achieved it as children. Ron was just 6 years old when he was given the second bill On “The Andy Griffith Show” and 8 when “The Music Man” He was released crooning “Gary, Indiana”. Clint, his younger brother, was racking up roles “Bonanza” “Star Trek” And “Gentle Ben.”
Today they are both Hollywood legends: Ron, 67, is an Academy Award-winning director (“A Beautiful Mind”) and co-founder of Imagine Entertainment, while Clint, 62, is a prolific character actor who has been featured everywhere. “Seinfeld” To “Austin Powers” movies.
But his life was transformed by his time as child actors and the influence of his parents, Rance Howard and Gene Spiegel Howard, who left Oklahoma to pursue their ambitions of becoming actors – goals that were both their achievements. Sons crossed countless times.
Ron and Clint Howard recount this early period in a new book, “The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family,” which will be released Tuesday by William Morrow. In his alternate accounts, Howard sees his success in addressing the darker aspects of his parents’ lives, his own upbringing, and his profession—at least until the realities of adolescence and adulthood reared their heads.
When the brothers spoke in a video interview last month, they talked about how writing “The Boys” helped them reconnect with each other and their family history.
“We’ve been close, but we’re 3,000 miles apart and busy with our families,” said Ron Howard, in the book “everything to try to put our lives in the context of who our parents were.” and what they gave us.”
“We wouldn’t have done it just to tell our story,” he said. “Once again, Mom and Dad pulled us together.”
Clint and Ron Howard talk about their early start in show business, their early brush with fame, and how their parents helped keep them together. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.
It is well known that you are the descendants of actors, but you are not exactly Barrymore’s descendants. how were your parents? How did they find it in Hollywood?
ron howard There’s no reason they should have succeeded. They had no idea where they were going. They weren’t bohemians, they weren’t hippies, but they certainly weren’t conservative. But this was his dream. He had to chase that horizon. And when they hit the horizon, they never really fit. They were always a little cornpone. Hence the term he applied to himself, Sophisticated Hicks.
Have you ever been made to feel that you are the breadwinner of your family?
Clint Howard We didn’t take show business home with us. Both dad and mom wagged their tails. Mom was just a championship mom. She was on the PTA, she was a basketball mom, she was a baseball mom.
ron Dad used to whisper a child-actor. But he said, I work with you boys because you are my son and I think you can learn something. I don’t think he believed this was our career for the rest of our lives. I don’t think he wanted to project that desire on us.
You probably could have lived a lot more on the money you were making – why didn’t you?
ron We always lived on Dad’s salary. Someone wanted to do the OP line of clothing – I’m sure that would mean hundreds of thousands of dollars at the end of the day. Mom and Dad turned it down for me because they didn’t want me to waste my time on it.
Clinton We were never short for anything. But we didn’t go on vacation. He did not buy new cars. Once a year, Ron and I would get new school clothes. No one was chasing the intoxicants that modern life or business can overwhelm you with.
As kids, you were regularly crossing paths with respected Hollywood actors. Clint, you have to meet Walt Disney When you were working on “The Jungle Book”. how was that?
Clinton I was completely blown away when Walt came in and said, “You’re doing a good job, Clint.” I was actually a Disney kid. But I was a little irritated that I hadn’t worked on any more Disney shows. [Laughter.]
ron Too bad you didn’t say, “What took you so long? Walt, how many times have I been to Disneyland? Where’s the debate here, Walt?”
Clinton All these people seemed very friendly but they were not awarding contracts. I never found “The Mickey Mouse Club”.
Was either of you ever jealous of each other?
Clinton Our age difference was ideal. Five years apart, I would look at my brother and walk away, with no chance I could kick his butt. Sometimes we would fight over baseball cards or toys, and Dad would physically separate us. He will say, you boys want to grow up to be good friends. So why don’t you just knock it?
ron he’ll say you have one Chance Growing up to be good friends.
There’s a period you describe in the book, where things started going downhill for Ron on “The Andy Griffith Show” and Clint started taking off “Gentle Ben”. Did this create tension between you?
ron I was jealous of what Clint was achieving. He was really popular at school, an excellent athlete, sociable, smart, self-confident. Things that I don’t feel or need. And I admired him about his personality. And I could even see it in the work he was doing. He was one hell of a good child artist. This system is set up to make child actors feel like failures as they go through adolescence, which is the most vulnerable period, and I was beginning to experience it. Clint later experienced a variant of this.
Clinton I worked on “Gentle Ben,” I was one of the lead actors on a television series that was really popular for a short period of time. Was hired to star in a TV series called “The Cowboys” who actually knocked my chin in the dirt. The job just ended up sucking. It was a bad show. I was still making money but the job was bad. That, and then acne. Dad and mom warned us about this period of show business. We knew it was coming. There was really no way to measure how I was going to feel about it.
In an era and an industry where drugs were prevalent, Ron increasingly avoided them, while Clint had a long period of addiction and recovery. Why do you feel that you have had such different experiences?
ron I was very introverted and so was my group of friends. I wasn’t really allowed to go to parties. If I was invited once or twice, I guess my parents said no. But Clint was in a different group, much more mature socially. I was also opposed to some of the restrictions my parents placed on me, and I was constantly asking them to use a lighter hand with Clint.
Clinton I had some kind of weird fascination with smoking weed. Up to the point where I literally practiced – I took some pencil shavings out of my pencil sharpener and I curled a joint and tried to smoke it. Ron was the first, he was a little more fearless. I was more outgoing socially. I ended up with a group of friends where it was no big deal. The problem is that once the train leaves the station, it can move very fast. It’s a slippery slope and I was throwing Crisco down.
Ron, have you ever felt guilty that you somehow let down your little brother and didn’t protect him from it?
ron Yes, I felt that way. When we knew Clint was a smoking pot, I said, look, this isn’t the terrible curse of the demon you fear it might be. But as Clint moved on, by the time I was married and had children. I was worried and tried to offer support and go to meetings. I continued to work with Clint and cast him when it made sense. I remember telling him too late in the abusive period – we used a lot of baseball terminology – I said, you’re a true .300 hitter batting about .217.
Clinton I have that letter. You wrote it on stationery from a hotel room in New York.
ron I was thinking of you when I was on the road. But I was too proud to navigate Clint. That achievement meant a lot to Mom and Dad, perhaps more than what any of us had achieved.
Clinton My recovery wasn’t easy—smooth, clean, and attractive. Ron had a lot to do with it and Dad had a lot to do with it too. I was struggling with the passing of Mom, but I was so proud of the moment I could drop my nine-year-old chip in her coffin. I only wish it was a 10 year old chip.
Which is your favorite performance that your brother has given?
ron Clint was awesome In “The Red Pony”. But when I was researching for it, I forgot that we were both On “The Danny Kaye Show” And this was the sketch where I was supposed to be this kid James Bond character and Clint was my boss. He Nailed that scene. When I saw it, I said, Oh my god, look how present he is. He’s actually playing a 50-year-old, tough guy, and I buy it.
Clinton He talks about me being in “The Red Pony”, but I never got a chance to do what he did In “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”. There’s a scene in that movie where he gets this panic attack that turns into a tantrum, and that was just so believable. I’m leaving, boy has the chops. Also, as a youth, He did a movie, “Act of Love.” It was heavy material and he grabbed it.
ron It was a story of euthanasia, based on a real incident, where one younger brother begged another to end it after a horrific accident. There is a courtroom scene where he is talking about how much he loves his brother and Clint was going through a difficult time during this period. It was one of the most personal moments I’ve generated onscreen, as I was channeling my feelings of love and despair through Clint. The tears and feelings were real – they came from my own gut.