Rance Howard

Rance Howard (born Harold Engle Beckenholdt; November 17, 1928 – November 25, 2017) was an American actor who starred in film and on television. He was the father of actor and filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard, and grandfather of actresses Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard.

Rance Howard
Howard in 2007
Harold Engle Beckenholdt

(1928-11-17)November 17, 1928
DiedNovember 25, 2017(2017-11-25) (aged 89)
Resting placeHollywood Forever Cemetery, Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Oklahoma
Years active1948–2017
  • (m. 1949; died 2000)
  • Judy Howard
    (m. 2001; died 2017)

Howard appeared in many notable films such as Cool Hand Luke (1967), Chinatown (1974), Splash (1984), Ed Wood (1994), Apollo 13 (1995), Independence Day (1996), A Beautiful Mind (2001), Cinderella Man (2005), Frost/Nixon (2008), Nebraska (2013), and Max Rose (2016). For co-producing the television film The Time Crystal (1981), he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Children's Program.

Early lifeEdit

Howard was born Harold Engle Beckenholdt in Newkirk, Kay County, Oklahoma, the son of Ethel Cleo (née Tomlin) and Engel Beckenholdt, a farmer.[1] He changed his name to "Rance Howard" when he became an actor.[2] Howard graduated from Shidler High School in 1946 and studied at the University of Oklahoma.[1][3]


His professional acting career began in 1948 when he went to New York City, auditioned, and landed a job in a children's touring company.[1] The role that got him noticed nationally for television and film was playing the part of Lindstrom in the touring company of the play Mister Roberts with Henry Fonda in 1950, portraying the character for about a year-and-a-half in major cities across the U.S.[4]

Both Rance and elder son Ron, who was two at the time, made their feature-film debuts together in the 1956 Western Frontier Woman.[5] Later in the 1950s, Rance's roles included his TV debut in the series Kraft Theatre, on which he appeared three times in 1956–57.[6]

After son Ron went on to play Opie in The Andy Griffith Show in the early 1960s, Rance had guest parts in five episodes of the show.[7] Howard was known best for his role on television in 25 episodes of the 1960s TV series Gentle Ben starring his younger son, Clint. Howard played Henry Boomhauer, a backwoodsman who befriended the family.[5] Another well-known TV role was on Babylon 5, in which he had a recurring role as David Sheridan, the father of Babylon 5 captain John Sheridan.[8] He also starred in the short-lived 2000 TV series Driving Me Crazy.[6] His television guest appearances include Gunsmoke, Bonanza, Kung Fu, The Waltons, CBS Schoolbreak Special 1986 episode "The Drug Knot", Angel, 7th Heaven, Cold Case, That's So Raven, and two appearances on Seinfeld (as different characters).[6][7] On The Waltons, Howard portrayed Dr. McIver in five different episodes, one of which included Ron.[7]

Howard appeared in over 100 films, including the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, The Music Man (in an uncredited bit part playing "Oscar Jackson"), and many other films.[6] Howard acted in many of his son Ron's films including Splash, Cocoon, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, Cinderella Man and Frost/Nixon.[1][5] He also appeared as Dottie and Kit's father in A League of Their Own.[5] In 2013, he played Woody Grant's brother in Nebraska.[8] He often took parts as a priest or minister, county sheriff, or western marshal, and made numerous appearances in films by Joe Dante.[1]

His final film role, completed in September 2017, is also the largest in his career. He plays the role of Carl Robbins in the Michael Worth road-trip drama, Apple Seed, playing on film for the first time the father of his real-life son Clint.[9]

Personal lifeEdit

Howard married actress Jean Speegle Howard in Burbank, California, in 1949. They remained married until her death in September 2000.[10] Their sons are actor and filmmaker Ron Howard and actor Clint Howard.[8] He was also the grandfather of actresses Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard.[8] Ron was born while he served three years in the United States Air Force.[11][12] While in the Air Force, Howard directed plays in Special Services, a unit that provided entertainment for service members.[13][14]

In 2001, Howard married Judy Howard, a year after his first wife's death.[9] Judy Howard died in January 2017 in Burbank, 10 months before Rance's death.[15]


Howard died on the morning of November 25, 2017, in Los Angeles, California from heart failure spurred on by a West Nile virus infection.[9][16][17]



Year Title Role Notes
1956 Frontier Woman Prewitt
1962 The Music Man Oscar Jackson Uncredited
1963 The Courtship of Eddie's Father Camp Counselor Uncredited
1965 Village of the Giants Deputy Son Ron also starred
1965 The Desert Raven Reggie
1966 An Eye for an Eye Harry
1967 Gentle Giant Tater Coughlin
Cool Hand Luke Sheriff Uncredited
1969 Old Paint Cowboy Short film
1970 The Wild Country Cleve Uncredited
1972 Bloody Trail Jake
1973 Salty Unknown character
1974 Where the Lilies Bloom Roy Luther
Chinatown Irate Farmer
1976 Eat My Dust! Clark
1977 The Legend of Frank Woods Howard Blacker
Grand Theft Auto Ned Slinker Directed by son Ron
Another Man, Another Chance Wagonmaster
1978 The Amazing Mr. No Legs Lou's Sidekick
Cotton Candy Mr. Bremmercamp Directed by son Ron
1979 Mr. No Legs Mr. No Legs' sidekick
1981 Smokey Bites the Dust Coach
1983 Love Letters Joseph Chesley
Forever and Beyond Technician
1984 The Lonely Guy Minister
Splash McCollough Directed by son Ron
1985 Cocoon St. Petersburg Detective Directed by son Ron
Creator Mr. Spencer
The Long Hot Summer Wilk TV Movie
1986 Gung Ho Mayor Conrad Zwart Directed by son Ron
Return To Mayberry Preacher Made for TV Movie
1987 Innerspace Supermarket Customer #1
1988 Dark Before Dawn Logan
Merchants of Death Robert Morrison
1989 Trust Me Vern
The 'Burbs Detective #2
Listen to Me Tucker's Father
Parenthood Dean at College Directed by son Ron
Limit Up Chuck Feeney
1991 9 1/2 Ninjas! Ninja Negotiator
1992 I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore Elderly Man
Far and Away Tomlin Directed by son Ron
Universal Soldier John Devreux
Wishman Det. Sturgis
Ticks Sheriff Parker
1993 Fearless Bald Cabby
Ed and His Dead Mother Rev. Praxton
Snapdragon Priest
1994 Forced to Kill Rance
The Paper Alicia's Doctor Directed by son Ron
The Cowboy Way Old Gentleman
Terminal Velocity Chuck (pilot)
Ed Wood Old Man McCoy
Little Giants Priest
Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter Todd Brandell
1995 Children of the Corn III: Urban Harvest Eddie Calhoun
Savate Farmer
Apollo 13 Reverend Directed by son Ron
1996 Sgt. Bilko Mr. Robbins
Tiger Heart Mr. Johnson
Where Truth Lies Judge Bloom
Independence Day Chaplain
Mars Attacks! Texan Investor
Ghosts of Mississippi Ralph Hargrove
1997 Busted Mayor Davies
Traveller Farmer
Money Talks Reverend
The Lay of the Land Dr. Brown
Sparkle and Charm Mr. Houghton
1998 The Sender Max
Chairman of the Board Rev. Hatley
Land of the Free Hotel Manager
Small Soldiers Husband
The Night Caller Hank
Evasive Action Train Engineer Uncredited
Psycho Mr. Lowery
1999 Happy, Texas Ely
Malevolence Dr. Burns
Abilene Arliss
2000 Love & Sex Earl
Ping! Old Man
Big Wind on Campus Grandpa Morton
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Elderly Timekeeper Directed by son Ron
2001 Joe Dirt Bomb Squad Cop
A Crack in the Floor Floyd Fryed
Rat Race Feed the Earth Spokesman
A Beautiful Mind White-Haired Patient Directed by son Ron
2002 D-Tox Geezer
Legend of the Phantom Rider Doc Fisher
Jumping for Joy
Leaving the Land Uncle Solomon
2003 The Long Ride Home Old man
Ghost Rock Cash
The Missing Telegraph Operator Directed by son Ron
2004 Death and Texas Circuit Court Judge
Toolbox Murders Chas Rooker
The Alamo Governor Smith
Eulogy Lance Sommers
Back by Midnight Priest
2005 Cinderella Man Announcer Al Fazin Directed by son Ron
Killing Cupid Zeke
Miracle at Sage Creek Doctor Babcock
2006 Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson Story James Kennedy
Sasquatch Mountain Harris Zeff
2007 Georgia Rule Dog Bite Man
Be My Baby Zippy the Messenger
Ghost Town Sheriff Tom Parker
Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story Preacher
2008 Grizzly Park Ranger Howard
Drillbit Taylor Older Man
Keith Old Man Uncredited
Audie & the Wolf Dr. Maleosis
Frost/Nixon Ollie Directed by son Ron
2009 Play the Game Mervin Lavine
Angels & Demons Cardinal Beck Directed by son Ron
Within Deli Owner
Boppin' at the Glue Factory Walker Bill
2010 Valentine's Day Bistro Gardens Diner
Bloodworth Ira
Yohan: The Child Wanderer Old Knut
Once Fallen Harry
Jonah Hex Telegrapher
The Genesis Code Dr. Tolley
The Trial Judge Danielson
2011 The Dilemma Burt Directed by son Ron
Night Club Chuck
InSight Cemetery Presider
Spooky Buddies Mr. Joseph Johnson
Rosewood Lane Fred Crumb
Redemption: For Robbing the Dead Doctor
Let Go Dimples
2012 Easy Rider: The Ride Back Andrew Jackson Bennett
2013 Nebraska Uncle Ray
The Lone Ranger Engineer
Richard Rossi 5th Anniversary of Sister Aimee James Kennedy
Gone Dark Charles
2015 Junction The Clerk
2016 Max Rose Walter Prewitt
40 Nights Devil as an Old Man
Kalebegiak José Mari
2017 Chasing the Star Devil as an Old Man
Broken Memories Jasper
2018 Sister Aimee 10th Anniversary James Kennedy Posthumous release
2019 The Christ Slayer Devil as an Old Man Posthumous release
2019 Apple Seed Carl Posthumous release
2019 Dads Rance Howard Posthumous release


Year Title Role Notes
1956–1957 Kraft Television Theatre Various 3 episodes
1958 How to Marry a Millionaire Corporal 1 episode
1959 Bat Masterson Fletcher 1 episode
1962–1964 Combat! Wilkerson 1 episode
The Andy Griffith Show Various 5 episodes [7]
1966 That Girl Customer #2 1 episode
The Virginian Luka 1 episode
1967 The Monroes Al 1 episode
1967–1969 Gentle Ben Henry Boomhauer 13 episodes
1970 Then Came Bronson Mr. Carl Mueller 1 episode
1971 Night Gallery Cameraman 1 episode
1971–1972 Bonanza Sam / Bogardus 2 episodes
1968 The F.B.I. Ranger 1 episode
1969 Kung Fu Sheriff Byrd 1 episode
1973–1975 The Waltons Dr. McIvers 5 episodes
1974 Gunsmoke Frank Benton 1 episode
1976–1979 Happy Days Announcer / Ben Wilson / Mr. Burkhart 3 episodes
1977 Little House on the Prairie Simpson 1 episode
1978 Battlestar Galactica Farnes 1 episode
1979 Laverne & Shirley Doctor 1 episode
1981 Mork & Mindy Guard 1 episode
1983 The Thorn Birds Doctor Miniseries
1984 Dynasty Gifford 1 episode
Murder, She Wrote Fillmore 1 episode
1986 A Smoky Mountain Christmas Doctor Television film
1989–1992 Baywatch Fireman / Joe 2 episodes
1989 B.L. Stryker Richard Walton 1 episode
1991 Quantum Leap Ring Doctor 1 episode
Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter Bernie Television film
1993 Coach Herman Van Dam 1 episode
1993–1996 Seinfeld Blind Man / Farmer 2 episodes
1994 Diagnosis Murder Driver 1 episode
1995 Problem Child 3: Junior in Love The Janitor Television film
1996–1997 Babylon 5 David Sheridan 3 episodes
Married... with Children Edwin / Reverend 2 episodes
1996 Melrose Place Motel Manager 1 episode
1997 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Reginald Hannon 1 episode
1998 Clueless Mr. Bell 2 episodes
Two of a Kind Mr. Fillmore 2 episodes
1999 Just Shoot Me! Blind Flower Guy 1 episode
2000 7th Heaven Old Man in Park 1 episode
2001 Angel Marcus Roscoe / Angel 1 episode
2002 That '80s Show Mr. Bailey 1 episode
2004 Cold Case Buddie 1 episode
That's So Raven Murphy 1 episode
2005 Ghost Whisperer Dirk Abrams 1 episode
2006 CSI: NY Samuel Cooper 1 episode
2009 ER Dr. Oliver Kostin 1 episode
Lie to Me Joe Metz 1 episode
2011 Workaholics Jerry 1 episode
2012 Grey's Anatomy Martin Carroll 1 episode
2013 NCIS: Los Angeles Eugene 1 episode
2014 Bones Jerold Norsky 2 episodes
Kroll Show Dr. Stanley Armond 1 episode
Review Willie 1 episode
2016 The X-Files Old Man 1 episode
2018 Arrested Development Rance Howard 1 episode; Posthumous release


  1. ^ a b c d e "Rance Howard, actor and father of Ron Howard, dies at 89, family says". CNN. November 25, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  2. ^ Times-News, www.GoErie.com and Erie. "GoErie.com: Archives: Search Results -". nl.newsbank.com.
  3. ^ "Former resident returns: Shidler alumni speaker to be screen, TV star", Pawhuska Daily Journal-Capital, Pawhuska, Oklahoma, volume 67, number 195, September 29, 1976, page 3.
  4. ^ Gallagher, Pat (July 22, 2012). "Rance Howard At 83: 'I Never Play The Ron Howard Card'". Huffington Post. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e Balsamo, Michael (November 25, 2017). "Rance Howard, actor dad of director Ron Howard, dies at 89". Chicago Tribune. Archived from the original on November 3, 2018. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  6. ^ a b c d "Biography: Rance Howard". tcm.com. Archived from the original on December 1, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d Carlton, Bob (March 3, 2009). "Veteran Character Actor Rance Howard". Al.com. Advance Local Media LLC. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  8. ^ a b c d Romano, Nick. "Rance Howard, Ron Howard's father, dies at 89". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  9. ^ a b c "Rance Howard, Actor and Father of Ron Howard, Dies at 89". The New York Times. November 26, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  10. ^ "Rance Howard, Actor and Father of Ron Howard, Dies at 89". People. November 25, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  11. ^ Gray, Beverly (2003). Ron Howard: from Mayberry to the moon-- and beyond. Nashville, TN: Rutledge Hill Press. pp. 7–8. ISBN 1-55853-970-0.
  12. ^ Estrin, Eric (February 22, 2010). "Ron Howard's 'Breakthrough'?: Ronald Reagan". The Wrap. Retrieved May 6, 2011.
  13. ^ Myers, Marc. "Actors Ron Howard and Clint Howard Talk About Coming of Age on Movie Sets", The Wall Street Journal online, October 12, 2021. Retrieved December 20, 2021.
  14. ^ Klemesrud, Judy. "No Milkshake Vacation for Ron", Shreveport Journal, Shreveport-Bossier City, Louisiana, volume 83, June 28, 1977, page 8B.
  15. ^ "Judy Howard Obituary". Legacy. January 17, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017.
  16. ^ Keveney, Bill (November 25, 2017). "Actor Rance Howard, father of director Ron Howard, dies at 89". USA Today. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  17. ^ Howard, Ron; Howard, Clint (November 30, 2017). "Ron and Clint Howard Remember Dad Rance's 'Enthusiasm, Dignity and Fearlessness' (Guest Column)". Variety. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  18. ^ "Rance Howard, Ron Howard's father, dies at 89". The Los Angeles Times. November 25, 2017. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  19. ^ "Rance Howard Credits". TV Guide. Retrieved November 25, 2017.
  20. ^ "Rance Howard". Fandago. Retrieved November 25, 2017.

External linksEdit