What was Ron Howard's high school experience like?

The stars... They're just (not really) like us.

The Everett Collection

High school is a foundational time in anybody's life. It either crystallizes what we think of ourselves or gives us a benchmark to measure further growth. Your high school self is either the person you'll always be or the person you spend your twenties running from. Some people peak in high school, and some folks look back and cringe. Do you reminisce and see a beautiful butterfly? Maybe you were still a caterpillar, compared to the person you'd become. 

Everything's in flux in high school, which is why we're often fascinated by that experience. Especially when a person is on TV, we want to know what it was like for them in school. If they were famous as kids, what was their life like for those four formative years?

Ron Howard was one of the most recognizable child stars of all time. As Opie Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show, Howard was everybody's kid brother, running around, learning lessons, and scraping his knees. If you watched him, you loved him. Howard set himself up for a lifetime of recognizability on that show. When The Andy Griffith Show ended after eight years, Ronny stayed on TV, in guest-starring roles on Gunsmoke, The FBI, and Judd for Defense.

So, when he enrolled in Burroughs High School in Burbank, California, most of his fellow students knew who Opie was. But who was Ron Howard? What was his high school experience like?

Fans might be surprised to learn that, at fifteen years old, Howard stepped away (briefly) from acting, to pursue a spot on the school's basketball team. According to Barbara Kramer's Ron Howard: Child Star & Hollywood Director, the young Howard took a break from his career because he had a chance at a starting spot on the roster. "It meant turning down work," said Howard, "and that's almost heresy if you're an actor. But I was really committed to being on the team."

That doesn't mean he walked away from show biz completely, though— Howard kept making movies, even if he wasn't acting in them. Howard had an eight-millimeter camera and a built-in cast and crew. "By the time I was sixteen, I was obsessed," he recalled. "I'd bully my little brother and his friends to be in all my movies."

While he may have been a TV mainstay, that fame didn't bring him a ton of social currency in school. Instead, Howard found satisfaction and friendship as the co-editor of his high school's newspaper. "It was a chance to write, and I got really into it and loved it," he said. 

English was his strongest subject, and it's also where he met the love of his life. Redheaded Cheryl Alley sat in front of him in his favorite class, where the two began a lifelong romance. "She wasn't a cheerleader or popular in high school, and neither was I," said Howard.

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9 Comments

spalding69 12 days ago
I always thought Opie was a sap. He could have made a lot more money being a juvenile delinquent
What a pathetic comment.
OCT1074 12 days ago
I wish me tv would bring back “ my three sons”
sentimental1 OCT1074 12 days ago
The show is now on METV+. It's on Saturdays at 2:30pm PST.
atibamanii 13 days ago
Why do they seem to just stop these stories in the middle?? Happy Days? American Graffiti? Musin Man?m And the fact that after HS he managed to become a famous writer & producer. Perhaps his determination & committment in HS carried over to make him a success?
WordsmithWorks 17 days ago
Met his wife in high school English class, married in 1975 (thanks, IMDb), and they re still a couple. you cannot write a better story. I like to think that his dad being an actor helped ground him. That and being lucky enough to book the Andy Griffith Show and get to be around seemingly patient and generous adults. Howard is definitely a success story.
If his image is consistent with his private life, he seems like a good fellow, placed in circumstances where that can be difficult.
WGH WordsmithWorks 12 days ago
My understanding is he's one of the wildest people in hollywood. Really likes the ladies if you know what I mean. He's like Charlie Sheen
kimmie218 WGH 11 days ago
Personally, I think if that were true, his wife would have divorced him long ago. Charlie Sheen is divorced, if you know what I mean.
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