Jean Speegle Howard

Jean Frances Speegle Howard (January 31, 1927 – September 2, 2000) was an American actress who acted primarily in film and on television. Howard appeared in over 30 television shows, mostly sitcoms, such as Married... with Children (1994–1996), but she also had guest spots on such series as Grace Under Fire (1993) and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997) beginning from 1975 (mostly during the 1980s and 1990s) until her death.

Jean Speegle Howard
Jean Frances Speegle

(1927-01-31)January 31, 1927
DiedSeptember 2, 2000(2000-09-02) (aged 73)
Resting placeForest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills, California, U.S.
Other namesJean Howard
Years active1969–2000
(m. 1949)

Early lifeEdit

Howard was born Jean Frances Speegle in Duncan, Oklahoma, the daughter of Louise (née Dewey) and William Allen Speegle.


Although she was an actress in film and television early on, her son Ron Howard said she largely put her career aside to raise her sons, Ron, born in 1954, and Clint, born in 1959.[1] She appeared in the 1956 film Frontier Woman alongside husband Rance Howard and young son Ron Howard. In 1975, the entire family would act in the television film Huckleberry Finn. Howard appeared in a bit part in the 1985 film Cocoon. In the 1986 Christmas film A Smoky Mountain Christmas, Howard played Old Lady Jezebel alongside her husband, who played Dr. Jennings.

Howard worked regularly as a television guest star and in films in the 1990s appearing in popular series such as Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, The Wonder Years, and Roseanne. Howard also starred in Two of a Kind alongside Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. She acted in the 1994 film The Paper, and the 1996 film Matilda as the librarian, Mrs. Phelps.

In one of her last on-camera speaking roles, Howard portrayed astronaut Jim Lovell's mother in the 1995 motion picture Apollo 13. When circumstances appear bleak for the crew, Howard's character says confidently, "If they could get a washing machine to fly, my Jimmy could land it." Her son and director of the film Ron Howard said, "It was a great moment."[1]

Personal lifeEdit

She married actor Rance Howard, also from Duncan, Oklahoma, in 1949. Their sons are actor and filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard. Among her grandchildren are actresses Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard, Paige's twin Jocelyn Carlyle, and their brother Reed Cross.


On September 2, 2000, Howard died in Los Angeles, California of heart and respiratory illness. She was 73 years old. She is buried in Forest Lawn - Hollywood Hills Cemetery.[2]

The 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas, directed by her son Ron, includes a dedication to her at the beginning of the end credits, saying that she "loved Christmas the most." The film includes performances by her son Clint (as Whobris), her husband Rance (as the Elderly Timekeeper) and her granddaughter Bryce (as the Surprised Who).



Year Title Role Notes
1956 Frontier Woman Villager Woman (Uncredited)
1969 Old Paint (short) Mother
1975 Huckleberry Finn Widow Douglas
1985 Cocoon Woman
1986 Gung Ho Lady in Market
1988 Scrooged Mrs Claus
1992 I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore Elderly Woman
1994 The Paper Hospital Volunteer
1995 Apollo 13 Blanch Lovell
1996 Black Sheep Elderly Woman
1996 Where Truth Lies Mrs. Gloria Smith
1996 Matilda Mrs Phelps
1996 My Fellow Americans Asthmatic Woman on Tour
1997 Traveller Bokky's Grandmother
1997 Los Locos Mother Superior
1997 Sparkle and Charm Patricia
1998 Spoiler Jillian / Jennifer
1998 Hundred Percent
1998 The Night Caller Olivia
2000 The Hiding Place (final film role)


Year Title Role Notes
1993-1996 Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman Bertha Emory / Elderly spectator 2 episodes
1993 The Wonder Years Jane Gustafson Episode: "Reunion"
1995 Roseanne Elderly Nudist Neighbor Episode: "Rear Window"
1997 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Melanie Hannon Episode: "The Viewing"
1997 Buffy the Vampire Slayer Real Natalie French Episode: "Teacher's Pet"
1997-1998 Fired Up Mrs Morton 3 episodes


  1. ^ a b Acuna, Kirsten (April 27, 2014). "How Ron Howard's Mom Ended Up Delivering One Of The Best Lines In 'Apollo 13'". Business Insider.
  2. ^ Wilson, Scott (2016). Resting Places: The Burial Sites of More Than 14,000 Famous Persons (3rd ed.). McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 9781476625997.

External linksEdit