NORMAN – A recent gift from Academy Award-winning filmmaker and Oklahoma native Ron Howard will help aspiring actors from rural areas pursue their dream of studying drama and fine arts at the University of Oklahoma.
Howard’s $90,000 gift to the Weitzenhoffer Family College of Fine Arts at OU establishes a scholarship to support students in the college’s Helmerich School of Drama who hail from rural communities across the United States.
The scholarship is named in memory of Howard’s parents, Rance and Jean Howard, both of whom were born in Oklahoma and studied drama at OU before enjoying successful acting careers. In addition to their son Ron, their son Clint Howard and their granddaughters Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard have established notable careers in film and television.
“Our mom and dad were from small-town, rural America,” Howard explained. “Their ability to afford to be the first in their families to pursue a career in the arts at OU changed their lives, as well as the course of our family history. They met on campus, made lifelong friends and career connections there, and affirmed the viability of their dreams. Our family wants to help support that dream for students from similar circumstances who make the excellent choice to attend the University of Oklahoma for drama and fine arts.”
Ron Howard was born in Duncan and first came to prominence as a child actor, guest-starring in several television series, including an episode of “The Twilight Zone.” He gained national attention for playing young Opie Taylor in the sitcom “The Andy Griffith Show” from 1960 through 1968, along with prominent roles in the films “The Music Man” and “American Graffiti.” In 1974, Howard became a household name for playing Richie Cunningham in the sitcom “Happy Days,” a role he would play for the next six years.
The 1977 comedy “Grand Theft Auto” marked his directorial debut; and in 1980, he left “Happy Days” to focus on directing. During the past 43 years, he has directed more than 30 films, including the 1985 science fiction/fantasy “Cocoon,” the 1995 historical docudrama “Apollo 13,” the 2006 thriller “The Da Vinci Code” and the 2018 science fiction/fantasy “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”