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A Look Back at The Storied Career of B&B's Clint Howard

Clint Howard

Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images

Clint Howard made his acting debut on The Andy Griffith Show alongside his older brother Ron at the tender age of 2. In typical Howard family fashion, he has been cranking out acting roles, producing, and directing ever since. His career has spanned 60-plus years.

Before he made his debut as Tom on Bold and Beautiful, a homeless man who helped Deacon and Finn solve the Sheila mystery, Digest sat down with Clint Howard to talk about his inspirations, his storied career, and what’s coming up in the future.

Variety Is The Spice of Life

Howard has tackled everything from blockbuster films (including 17 with his brother Ron), independent features, cult horror, and comedies. “I love the variety of my career in my life,” the versatile actor explained. “I love the fact that I’ve been able to do this and that, up and down, high and low, big and little. You know, I’ve worked on some very, very big movies. I’ve worked on some very, very small movies.”

For both Howard and his brother, their inspiration came from the patriarch of the family – a legendary actor himself. “In acting, I enjoy taking what I learned from my dad, Rance Howard,” the actor fondly admitted. “I learned it from him. And I apply it every day. Acting is just a Jim Dandy of a job. It’s great.”

In addition, a fire was lit in the young budding actor and he has been passionate about his craft ever since. “You know, it gives you a chance to be creative.” He detailed how it feeds his soul. “Every day is different. Every day working as an actor, you’re given a different set of issues.”

Howard is serious about his craft but has a soft spot for one genre in particular. “I enjoy comedy,” the actor admitted. “Comedy is fun. I am inherently funny. And, you know, to make people laugh is, personally, very satisfying.”

One venue that the actor hasn’t conquered yet but would love to add to his repertoire is live theater. “I’ve never done a stage play. I’ve been in this business for 62 years,” Howard revealed. “And my dad, that was his first thing. His first break was working on the Broadway production of Mr. Roberts [opposite Henry Fonda]. And he always, always talked about the exhilarating feeling it is to really perform a stage play, especially a good play.”

He came close a couple of times but the big screen lured him away. “There’ve been a couple of opportunities in my life where I’ve gone into rehearsals on a play, but when there was one little wrinkle about what happened, these plays were always off-Broadway, small, equity waiver plays,” he shared. “And right when I would start doing rehearsals, I would get [another] acting job.”

One such instance was a movie rated the highest-grossing sports comedy of all time, The Waterboy, which, coincidently, included Ron Howard’s Happy Days co-star, Henry Winkler. “I remember there was one time I was involved in a nice little play that was getting ready to go. And I got the part on The Waterboy. And I couldn’t turn down working on an Adam Sandler film,” the eager actor confessed. “I mean, I was going to have to go off. I was going to have to go off to Orlando and shoot for a while.”

Looking to the Past

A little-known fact about Clint Howard is that he excelled in journalism in school. In fact, two of his articles won him an award from Pepperdine University, which included one full year’s tuition and a national recognition from Columbia University. So teaming up with his older brother to write the New York Times bestseller, The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family, in 2021 seemed like an inspired move.

The process of writing became a healing and joyful experience. “I think it was cathartic to participate in writing this,” the author explained. “First of all, Ron and I, we started thinking about writing it after our dad passed away [in 2017]. You know, after we said goodbye to Rance Howard, we thought, man, we really got to do something. We got to find some way to memorialize both him and my mom, Jean [who passed in 2000]. And so we started thinking about writing a book.”

He went on to lay out how it unfolded and feedback the brothers received along the way. “Ron had been approached about writing a memoir. Of course, you know, his story is magical, as are both of our stories.” It was a longtime family friend who suggested a twist that seemed right to the Howards.

“Tom Hanks told Ron that he shouldn’t write a memoir,” Howard said. “But if he was going to write a memoir, it should be only about his childhood. And he should include me. Because the dynamic of having two brothers in the business, at the same time, in the era of the 60s, is just fascinating.”

Hanks was fascinated by the family history and felt many others would be too. “Tom would sit around and ask us questions about what it was like. A lot of people do.” It was these questions that fueled the narrative for The Boys. “Everybody wants to know what it was like, you know, working with a bear [Gentle Ben]. What was Andy Griffith like? How was Aunt Bea? You know, these kinds of questions.”

The Howard brothers began to formulate an action plan. “Ron and I started thinking about it. And we worked up a treatment of what the book might be.” Shortly after, they were ready to share with the world. “We went to the publishers and we did our little dog and pony show, where we pitched him the idea. And then finally, we landed at Harper Collins, and we set about to write a book.”

Once they got started, the words began to flow. “I learned things about Ron. He learned things about me. It was a great experience to write it.” The rhythm to their writing process revealed itself early on. “We landed on this idea of doing a dual narrative where, you know, he talks about experiences. He writes about experiences that he’s had, and then I’ll follow up and either, you know, piggyback on his experiences or come up with my own.”

Each Howard brother had a unique perspective of growing up in show business and in a show business family. “I had a different seat at the ballgame, so to speak,” Howard went on to explain. “My position being Ron’s little brother was unique. He paved the way for a lot of what I did.”

The brothers were born five years apart in the family’s dynamics. “He was the first [child] mom and dad coddled him more than they coddled me,” he recalled, as the younger sibling, how this played out. “I think that happens a lot in families. I think it was cathartic to participate in writing this.”

Having made it through the experience and come out on the other side, the brothers can now look at their work fondly and with humor. “So we wrote about it and we spent a month on the New York Times best-seller list. That’s amazing.” Howard summed up their journey. “Ron and I laugh about it. On my tombstone, I can say New York Times bestselling author, Clint Howard.”

Looking to the Future

Now the actor is ready for a new adventure. “I just finished working on a horror movie called Terrifier 3 [release date October 11, 2024], which is very much a cult horror movie, but it seems to be all the rage now,” Howard revealed the project on his agenda. “I know the creative team, and they included me. I played a character that gets killed by Art the Clown. So I did that.”

But there is another project that hits closer to home — another family affair you might say. “I’m working on a horror movie of my own, me and my wife, Kat [C. Howard], and Norman Apstein [director, Ice Cream Man 1995].” Howard disclosed the details. “We are working on another Ice Cream Man. That’s our title. In the early 90s, I was in a movie called Ice Cream Man. Norman and I, along with my wife, Kat, have been mustering our forces. And we’re in pre-production on it.”

Howard is tapping into his friend pool to fill out the cast list. “In fact, there’s a role for Sean [Kanan, Deacon on B&B; check out this Take Five with Kanan here] in another Ice Cream Man, and he absolutely knocks it out of the park.” The producer and director described Kanan’s role. “He plays this sleazy guy. He’s kind of, he’s slick sleazy. And Sean loves the process. We’ve had table readings. You know, we’re still developing it.”

Another cult classic to add to his resume and Clint Howard shows no sign of stopping anytime soon. “We’re making a push now to go into pre-production. We just need to get an absolute positive green light, and we’re on, and we’re off and running.”