Ronald Howard (British actor)

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Ronald Howard
Ronald Howard 1967.jpg
Howard as Wing Commander Hayes, 1967.
Born(1918-04-07)7 April 1918
Norwood, London, England
Died19 December 1996(1996-12-19) (aged 78)
Bridport, Dorset, England
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Years active1936–1975
Notable work Sherlock Holmes (1954 TV series)
Spouse(s)Patricia Horsman (1941–1945)
Jean Millar (1946–1996; his death) 3 children
Parent(s) Leslie Howard (father)
Ruth Evelyn Martin (mother)
Relatives Arthur Howard (uncle)
Irene Howard (aunt)
Alan Howard (cousin)

Ronald Howard (7 April 1918 19 December 1996) was an English actor and writer. He appeared as Sherlock Holmes in a weekly television series of the same name in 1954. [1] He was the son of the actor Leslie Howard.


Early life

Howard was born in South Norwood, London, the son of Ruth Evelyn (née Martin) and the actor Leslie Howard. He attended Tonbridge School. After graduating from Jesus College, Cambridge, Ronald became a newspaper reporter for a while but decided to become an actor.

Film career

His first film role was an uncredited bit part in Pimpernel Smith (1941), a film directed by and starring his father in the title role, though young Howard's part ended up on the cutting room floor. In the early 1940s, Howard gained acting experience in regional theatre, the London stage and eventually films; his official debut was in 1947's While the Sun Shines. Howard received varying degrees of exposure in some well-known films, such as The Queen of Spades (1949) and The Browning Version (1951). Howard played Will Scarlet in the episode of the same name of the 1950s British television classic The Adventures of Robin Hood starring Richard Greene. The character of Scarlet was later portrayed by Paul Eddington.

The 1954 Sherlock Holmes television series, based on the Arthur Conan Doyle characters and produced by Sheldon Reynolds, ran for 39 episodes starring Howard as Holmes and Howard Marion-Crawford as Watson. In addition to 21st century DVD releases, in 2006 and 2014 this series was broadcast in the UK on the satellite channel Bonanza, before being repeated in May 2021 on Talking Pictures TV.

Howard continued mainly in British "B" films throughout the 1950s and 1960s, most notably The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), along with a few plum television guest roles in British and American television in the 1960s, including the TV series, Combat! s.2 ep.25: "What Are the Bugles Blowin' For?" - Pt.1 & 2 (1964) Wing Commander Hayes in the 1967 Cowboy in Africa TV show with Chuck Connors and Tom Nardini; two episodes of Boris Karloff's TV series Thriller, S1 E23 "Well of Doom" and S2 E5 "God Grante that She Lye Stille" (both 1961). Of his career in British B films the film historians Steve Chibnall and Brian McFarlane wrote, "Despite his blond good looks (and resemblance to his father) and his agreeable demeanour, he lacked genuine star quality." [2]

Additionally in 1960 he appeared in the television series Danger Man in the episode entitled "The Traitor" as Noel Goddard.

In the mid-1970s, he reluctantly put aside his acting career to run an art gallery.

In Search of My Father

In the 1980s he wrote In Search of My Father: A Portrait of Leslie Howard, a biography covering the career and mysterious death of his father, whose plane was shot down over the Bay of Biscay on 1 June 1943. His conclusion (which remains in dispute) was that the Germans' goal in shooting down the plane was to kill his father, who was Jewish and who had been travelling through Spain and Portugal, ostensibly lecturing on film, but also meeting with local activists and shoring up support for the Allied cause. [3]

The Nazis suspected surreptitious activities since German agents were active throughout Spain and Portugal, which, like Switzerland, was a crossroads for persons from both sides of the conflict, but even more accessible to Allied citizens. [4]

The book explores in detail written German orders to the Ju 88 Staffel based in France, assigned to intercept the aircraft, as well as communiqués on the British side that verify intelligence reports of the time indicating a deliberate attack on Howard. [3] Ronald Howard was convinced that the order to shoot down the airliner came directly from Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda, who had been ridiculed in one of Leslie Howard's films, and who believed him to be the most dangerous British propagandist. [3]


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  1. "Ronald Howard". BFI. Archived from the original on 14 July 2012.
  2. Steve Chibnall & Brian McFarlane, The British 'B' Film, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2009, p. 176.
  3. 1 2 3 Howard, Ronald. In Search of My Father: A Portrait of Leslie Howard. London: St. Martin's Press, 1984; ISBN   0-312-41161-8.
  4. "Leslie Howard." Archived 24 October 2010 at the Wayback Machine; Retrieved 22 July 2010.

Further reading