The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family - book cover
Arts & Literature
  • Publisher : William Morrow
  • Published : 12 Oct 2021
  • Pages : 416
  • ISBN-10 : 006306524X
  • ISBN-13 : 9780063065246
  • Language : English

The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family


“This extraordinary book is not only a chronicle of Ron’s and Clint’s early careers and their wild adventures, but also a primer on so many topics—how an actor prepares, how to survive as a kid working in Hollywood, and how to be the best parents in the world! The Boys will surprise every reader with its humanity.”   — Tom Hanks

"I have read dozens of Hollywood memoirs. But The Boys stands alone. A delightful, warm and fascinating story of a good life in show business.”   — Malcolm Gladwell

Happy DaysThe Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben—these shows captivated millions of TV viewers in the ’60s and ’70s. Join award-winning filmmaker Ron Howard and audience-favorite actor Clint Howard as they frankly and fondly share their unusual family story of navigating and surviving life as sibling child actors.

“What was it like to grow up on TV?” Ron Howard has been asked this question throughout his adult life. in The Boys, he and his younger brother, Clint, examine their childhoods in detail for the first time. For Ron, playing Opie on The Andy Griffith Show and Richie Cunningham on Happy Days offered fame, joy, and opportunity—but also invited stress and bullying. For Clint, a fast start on such programs as Gentle Ben and Star Trek petered out in adolescence, with some tough consequences and lessons.

With the perspective of time and success—Ron as a filmmaker, producer, and Hollywood A-lister, Clint as a busy character actor—the Howard brothers delve deep into an upbringing that seemed normal to them yet was anything but. Their Midwestern parents, Rance and Jean, moved to California to pursue their own showbiz dreams. But it was their young sons who found steady employment as actors. Rance put aside his ego and ambition to become Ron and Clint’s teacher, sage, and moral compass. Jean became their loving protector—sometimes over-protector—from the snares and traps of Hollywood.

By turns confessional, nostalgic, heartwarming, and harrowing, THE BOYS is a dual narrative that lifts the lid on the Howard brothers’ closely held lives. It’s the journey of a tight four-person family unit that held fast in an unforgiving business and of two brothers who survived “child-actor syndrome” to become fulfilled adults.

Editorial Reviews

"Who would have thought Ron Howard could be exciting? And yet, he and his brother Clint have written a saga of talent, ambition, serendipity, and lust. Well, forget about the lust. It's just not there. But Ron and Clint's story of their remarkable coming-of-age in show business will thrill any reader."  -- Steve Martin

"I have read dozens of Hollywood memoirs. But The Boys stands alone. A delightful, warm and fascinating story of a good life in show business." -- Malcolm Gladwell

"I've known and loved the Howard family for forty-eight years, and there are stories here that surprised even me. The Boys is an emotional journey that goes well beyond your typical Hollywood memoir." -- Henry Winkler

"This extraordinary book is not only a chronicle of Ron's and Clint's early careers and their wild adventures, but also a primer on so many topics-how an actor prepares, how to survive as a kid working in Hollywood, and how to be the best parents in the world! THE BOYS will surprise every reader with its humanity." -- Tom Hanks

"How can the complexities of husband and wives, parents and children, brother to brother be contained between the pages of one book? It's impossible and yet The Boys touched me in such a way that the Howards' story---Rance, Jean, Ron and Clint-will continue, for a long time, to settle on my heart like soft rain. It is about life and show business and how one, famous family connected both--with passion, loyalty, respect and, most of all, love."  -- Glenn Close

"Actors and brothers Ron and Clint Howard reflect on growing up in Hollywood in this fascinating dual autobiography… Candid, humorous, and entertaining, this intimate account will be a hit with the brothers' fans."  -- Publishers Weekly

"Filled with delightful stories from the sets of The Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben, The Music Man, and Happy Days, this memoir will be treasured by television and movie history buffs alike; fans of the Howards will greatly enjoy their teasing, loving banter, and evocation of a gentler era." -- Library Journal (starred review)

"It's wholesome, earnest and contains just enough tidbits about Mayberry and "Happy Days" to satisfy ardent fans… In the end, it's the remarkable story of a family that chose a very public line of work but managed to live by their own private values in an America that gave them the space to do just that." -- Associated Press

"A treat for movie and TV buffs, this dual memoir is wholesome and satisfying…Fans of the Howards will revel in the details of their young ascents into the Hollywood spotlight." -- Kirkus Reviews

Readers Top Reviews

gail pyke
Was a wonderful read! Ordered and was delivered before I expected and was very pleased with this service as well! I would highly recommend!
I loved every page of this excellent memoir. I appreciate the different writing styles of the Howard boys and the perspective they each shared. I feel like I learned SO MUCH about them and about how show business works. I grew up with them (in terms of the era) and remember all the shows they were in. This was such a well written story from start to finish.
The Howards are the gold standard when it comes to Hollywood families. Yes, they have experienced success working in the tv/film industry but what is most impressive to me is they are down-to-earth, good, honest people. I got teary-eyed more than once while reading this memoir written by brothers Ron and Clint Howard. The love they have for each other and their parents is so apparent and made for a heartwarming read. Actor Rance Howard married actress Jean Speegle in 1949. In 1954, their son Ron entered the world. Perhaps you've heard of him. He played Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, Richie Cunningham on Happy Days, and transitioned into a not too shabby career as a director. Clint is five years younger than his brother, Ron, and he too was a child star. He played the role of Marc Wedloe on the tv series, Gentle Ben, and had guest roles on just about every popular tv series in 1960s and 1970s. With almost 60 years in the business, Clint has had a pretty awesome career as a character actor. (On a side note, I always get excited when I'm watching a movie or tv show and he pops up and totally will exclaim, "Hey, it's Clint Howard!" with a big smile on my face.) So what's the secret to the brothers' success? They obviously have talent but a lot of the credit goes to their parents for giving them as much of a normal upbringing as possible. They valued the important things in life not the wealth or the fame. And both Ron and Clint recognize their parents' contributions as well the sacrifices they made so their kids could pursue their careers. Sharing their memories of their childhood in this book really honors their parents. Highly recommend reading this memoir as it is full of humor, heart, and wisdom. Thank you to William Morrow for providing me with an advance copy! All thoughts expressed are my honest opinion.
As a senior citizen and still a continued watcher of the Andy Griffith Show, I have a fascination with the inner workings of a show that continues to air 60+ years later. The cast of that show along with the dialog were the results of great casting, acting and writing. I rarely find shows like this today. Ron and Clint were the best child actors I have ever witnessed in my 70 years which is why I was interested in this book. It is rare that child actors survive it and endure the lifestyle, becoming better people for it. I find through this book that both Clint and Ron's success as child actors were unique mostly because of the right parents, teaching them and guiding them to be the actors and who they are now. I have almost completed the book. As a senior and not having grown up with violence and profanity, I grow tired of it in books and films today. I don't see that violence and profanity are needed to produce good results. This is what makes this book good and find it interesting but positive. There is a lot of funny comments as well and found I laughed out loud unexpectedly. Thanks Ron and Clint for the inside look. Well done and with continued expectations of professionalism and diplomacy.
The Boys follows the careers of Ron and Clint Howard, when they were two of the biggest child stars in Hollywood (Ron for Andy Griffith, of course, and Clint for Gentle Ben), and through Ron's role as Richie Cunningham in Happy Days and his directorial debut for Grand Theft Auto. This memoir had a difficult task, in that the lives of Ron and Clint are not that dramatic or sensational. They had terrific parents who were actors themselves (albeit less successful and somewhat frustrated), and whose midwestern sensibility and values guided them through the challenges of being very young and successful child actors. Clint does struggle with substance abuse, but for the most part there are not huge meltdowns or scandals. Yet the book manages to be compelling, for a number of reasons. The love of family is an obvious one. The brothers also spend a lot of time talking about the craft and business of being an actor, which is perhaps the most interesting and enlightening part of the book. For example, in Chapter 1, "The Accidental Actor", Ron describes how his father fashioned a fake boom microphone out of a bucket and a string, in order to get Ron acclimated to being around a real boom mic and not get thrown during an audition. The instruction: "Don't look at the bucket." But the best part (or design decision) of the memoir is that the brothers take turns writing different sections of the book. They have different voices and sensibilities, and different writing styles. So there's an energy to the book as they talk to each other and react to each other across the pages, and they both write with an honesty and humility that is refreshing and appealing. Of course, Ron has the more interesting career, given his roles in Andy Griffith, American Graffiti, and Happy Days, and his later career as a director. And he writes well. But Clint is the better writer. He has a strong voice and style that is straightforward and non-fussy and non-breezy, but still funny and interesting. Together, the dueling narratives push the story along and keep it always entertaining, while grounding their stories in the values that their parents fostered.