Rance Howard

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Rance Howard
Howard in 2007
Harold Engle Beckenholdt

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

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.


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 life

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 life

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]



1956 Frontier Woman Prewitt
1962 The Music Man Oscar JacksonUncredited
1963 The Courtship of Eddie's Father Camp CounselorUncredited
1965 Village of the Giants DeputySon Ron also starred
1965The Desert RavenReggie
1966 An Eye for an Eye Harry
1967 Gentle Giant Tater Coughlin
Cool Hand Luke SheriffUncredited
1969Old PaintCowboyShort film
1970 The Wild Country CleveUncredited
1972Bloody TrailJake
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 SlinkerDirected by son Ron
Another Man, Another Chance Wagonmaster
1978The Amazing Mr. No LegsLou's Sidekick
Cotton Candy Mr. BremmercampDirected by son Ron
1979 Mr. No Legs Mr. No Legs' sidekick
1981 Smokey Bites the Dust Coach
1983 Love Letters Joseph Chesley
Forever and BeyondTechnician
1984 The Lonely Guy Minister
Splash McColloughDirected by son Ron
1985 Cocoon St. Petersburg DetectiveDirected by son Ron
Creator Mr. Spencer
The Long Hot Summer WilkTV Movie
1986 Gung Ho Mayor Conrad ZwartDirected by son Ron
Return To Mayberry PreacherMade for TV Movie
1987 Innerspace Supermarket Customer #1
1988Dark Before DawnLogan
Merchants of DeathRobert Morrison
1989 Trust Me Vern
The 'Burbs Detective #2
Listen to Me Tucker's Father
Parenthood Dean at CollegeDirected by son Ron
Limit Up Chuck Feeney
19919 1/2 Ninjas!Ninja Negotiator
1992 I Don't Buy Kisses Anymore Elderly Man
Far and Away TomlinDirected 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
1994Forced to KillRance
The Paper Alicia's DoctorDirected 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 ReverendDirected by son Ron
1996 Sgt. Bilko Mr. Robbins
Tiger Heart Mr. Johnson
Where Truth LiesJudge 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 CharmMr. Houghton
1998The SenderMax
Chairman of the Board Rev. Hatley
Land of the Free Hotel Manager
Small Soldiers Husband
The Night Caller Hank
Evasive ActionTrain EngineerUncredited
Psycho Mr. Lowery
1999 Happy, Texas Ely
MalevolenceDr. Burns
Abilene Arliss
2000 Love & Sex Earl
Ping!Old Man
Big Wind on CampusGrandpa Morton
How the Grinch Stole Christmas Elderly TimekeeperDirected 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 PatientDirected by son Ron
2002 D-Tox Geezer
Legend of the Phantom Rider Doc Fisher
Jumping for Joy
Leaving the LandUncle Solomon
2003 The Long Ride Home Old man
Ghost RockCash
The Missing Telegraph OperatorDirected by son Ron
2004Death and TexasCircuit Court Judge
Toolbox Murders Chas Rooker
The Alamo Governor Smith
Eulogy Lance Sommers
Back by MidnightPriest
2005 Cinderella Man Announcer Al FazinDirected by son Ron
Killing CupidZeke
Miracle at Sage CreekDoctor Babcock
2006 Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson Story James Kennedy
Sasquatch Mountain Harris Zeff
2007 Georgia Rule Dog Bite Man
Be My BabyZippy 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 ManUncredited
Audie & the Wolf Dr. Maleosis
Frost/Nixon OllieDirected by son Ron
2009 Play the Game Mervin Lavine
Angels & Demons Cardinal BeckDirected by son Ron
WithinDeli Owner
Boppin' at the Glue FactoryWalker 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 BurtDirected 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 AimeeJames Kennedy
Gone DarkCharles
2015JunctionThe Clerk
2016 Max Rose Walter Prewitt
40 NightsDevil as an Old Man
KalebegiakJosé Mari
2017Chasing the StarDevil as an Old Man
Broken MemoriesJasper
2018Sister Aimee 10th AnniversaryJames KennedyPosthumous release
2019The Christ SlayerDevil as an Old ManPosthumous release
2019Apple SeedCarlPosthumous release
2019DadsRance HowardPosthumous release


1956–1957 Kraft Television Theatre Various3 episodes
1958 How to Marry a Millionaire Corporal1 episode
1959 Bat Masterson Fletcher1 episode
1962–1964 Combat! Wilkerson1 episode
The Andy Griffith Show Various5 episodes [7]
1966 That Girl Customer #21 episode
The Virginian Luka1 episode
1967 The Monroes Al1 episode
1967–1969 Gentle Ben Henry Boomhauer13 episodes
1970 Then Came Bronson Mr. Carl Mueller1 episode
1971 Night Gallery Cameraman1 episode
1971–1972 Bonanza Sam / Bogardus2 episodes
1968 The F.B.I. Ranger1 episode
1969 Kung Fu Sheriff Byrd1 episode
1973–1975 The Waltons Dr. McIvers5 episodes
1974 Gunsmoke Frank Benton1 episode
1976–1979 Happy Days Announcer / Ben Wilson / Mr. Burkhart3 episodes
1977 Little House on the Prairie Simpson1 episode
1978 Battlestar Galactica Farnes1 episode
1979 Laverne & Shirley Doctor1 episode
1981 Mork & Mindy Guard1 episode
1983 The Thorn Birds DoctorMiniseries
1984 Dynasty Gifford1 episode
Murder, She Wrote Fillmore1 episode
1986 A Smoky Mountain Christmas DoctorTelevision film
1989–1992 Baywatch Fireman / Joe2 episodes
1989 B.L. Stryker Richard Walton1 episode
1991 Quantum Leap Ring Doctor1 episode
Lucy & Desi: Before the Laughter BernieTelevision film
1993 Coach Herman Van Dam1 episode
1993–1996 Seinfeld Blind Man / Farmer2 episodes
1994 Diagnosis Murder Driver1 episode
1995 Problem Child 3: Junior in Love The JanitorTelevision film
1996–1997 Babylon 5 David Sheridan3 episodes
Married... with Children Edwin / Reverend2 episodes
1996 Melrose Place Motel Manager1 episode
1997 Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction Reginald Hannon1 episode
1998 Clueless Mr. Bell2 episodes
Two of a Kind Mr. Fillmore2 episodes
1999 Just Shoot Me! Blind Flower Guy1 episode
2000 7th Heaven Old Man in Park1 episode
2001 Angel Marcus Roscoe / Angel 1 episode
2002 That '80s Show Mr. Bailey1 episode
2004 Cold Case Buddie1 episode
That's So Raven Murphy1 episode
2005 Ghost Whisperer Dirk Abrams1 episode
2006 CSI: NY Samuel Cooper1 episode
2009 ER Dr. Oliver Kostin1 episode
Lie to Me Joe Metz1 episode
2011 Workaholics Jerry1 episode
2012 Grey's Anatomy Martin Carroll1 episode
2013 NCIS: Los Angeles Eugene1 episode
2014 Bones Jerold Norsky2 episodes
Kroll Show Dr. Stanley Armond1 episode
Review Willie1 episode
2016 The X-Files Old Man1 episode
2018 Arrested Development Rance Howard1 episode; Posthumous release

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