Monday, December 4, 2017

Godspeed Rance Howard

Character actor Rance Howard died on November 25 2017 at the age of 89. In addition to appearing in many films and guest starring on many television shows in his long career, he was also the father of director Ron Howard and the actor Clint Howard, as well as the grandfather of actress and director Bryce Dallas Howard and actress Paige Howard.

Rance Howard was born Harold Rance Beckenholdt in Duncan, Oklahoma on November 17 1928. He became interested in acting when he appeared in a Christmas school play in Shidler, Oklahoma when he was in seventh grade. He toured with a children's theatre. He attended the University of Oklahoma where he majored in drama.

Rance Howard toured with Henry Fonda in Mister Roberts before moving to Baltimore to become resident director of The Hilltop Theatre. Mr. Howard made his film debut in 1956 in Frontier Woman. The film also marked the film debut of his son, Ron, who was only two years old at the time. He made his television debut the same year in a guest appearance on the anthology show Kraft Theatre. In the late Fifties he guest starred on such shows as How to Marry a Millionaire, Bat Masterson, Zane Grey Theatre, and Death Valley Days. He guest starred on the Make Room for Daddy episode "Danny Meets Andy Griffith", the pilot for The Andy Griffith Show that also featured his son Ron.

In the Sixties, Rance Howard appeared in the films The Music Man (1962), The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963), Village of the Giants (1965), The Desert Raven (1965), An Eye for an Eye (1966), Gentle Giant (1967), Old Paint (1969), and Wild Country (1970). He was a regular on the TV show Gentle Ben. He guest starred on such shows as Combat!, The Fugitive, The Andy Griffith Show, The Virginian, The Jean Arthur Show, That Girl, The Monroes, Then Came Bronson, and Dan August.

In the Seventies, Mr. Howard had a recurring role on The Waltons. He guest starred on the shows Night Gallery, Bonanza, Nichols, The F.B.I., Kung Fu, Gunsmoke, The Rookies, Switch, Little House on the Prairie, Battlestar Galactica, Laverne & Shirley, and Happy Days. He appeared in the films Bloody Trail (1972), Chinatown (1974), Eat My Dust (1976), The Legend of Frank Woods (1977), Grand Theft Auto (1977), Un autre homme, une autre chance (1977), and Mr. No Legs (1978).

In the Eighties, Rance Howard appeared in the films Smokey Bites the Dust (1981), Love Letters (1983), Forever and Beyond (1983), The Lonely Guy (1984), Splash (1984), Two Soldiers (1985), Creator (1985), Coccon (1985), Gung Ho (1986), Innerspace (1987), B.O.R.N. (1988), Dark Before Dawn (1988), Trust Me (1989), Listen to Me (1989), Parenthood (1989), and Limit Up (1989). He guest starred on the shows Dynasty; Finder of Lost Loves; Murder, She Wrote; Dallas; Days of Our Lives; Wiseguy; Superboy; B. L. Stryker; and Equal Justice. He appeared in the Andy Griffith Show television reunion movie Return to Mayberry.

In the Nineties, Mr. Howard appeared in such films as 9 1/2 Ninjas! (1991), Don't Buy Kisses Anymore (1992), Far and Away (1992), Universal Soldier (1992), Fearless (1993), The Cowboy Way (1994), Terminal Velocity (1994), Ed Wood (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Sgt. Bilko (1996), Independence Day (1996), Mars Attacks! (1996), Ghosts of Mississippi (1996), Money Talks (1997), Chairman of the Board (1998), The Night Caller (1998), Happy, Texas (1999), and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000). He guest starred on such shows as Quantum Leap, Baywatch, Coach, Diagnosis Murder, Tales from Crypt, Seinfeld, Melrose Place, Married With Children, Babylon 5, Clueless, and 7th Heaven.

In the Naughts Rance Howard appeared in such films Joe Dirt (2001), Rat Race (2001), A Beautiful Mind (2001), The Missing (2003), The Alamo (2004), Cinderella Man (2005), Aimee Semple McPherson (2006), Georgia Rule (2007), Drillbit Taylor (2008), Frost/Nixon (2008), Angels & Demons (2009), and Jonah Hex (2010).  He guest starred on such shows as Angel, Cold Case, That's So Raven, Ghost Whisperer, CSI: NY, and ER.

In the Teens Mr. Howard appeared in such films as Rosewood Lane (2011), Let Go (2011), Huff (2013), Nebraska (2013), The Lone Ranger (2013), Junction (2015), and Broken Memories (2017). He guest starred on such TV shows as Grey's Anatomy, NCIS: Los Angeles, Bones, and The X-Files.

Rance Howard may be better known as the father of Ron Howard than he is his acting career. In some respects that is sad, as he was quite a remarkable actor. He was one of the many character actors from the Fifties to the Teens upon whom the American television and film industries depended to fill even the smallest roles. In his long career Mr. Howard played everything from priests to farmers to physicians to the Devil himself. And while many times he might only be on screen for a few minutes, he always gave a good performance. If Rance Howard was extremely prolific in his career, it was because he was just so very good at what he did.

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