Ron Howard Opened Up About How He Really Felt About His Wife In High School

Image: LUCY NICHOLSON/AFP/Getty Images

Ron Howard has enjoyed a long and successful career in the movie industry, starting out as a child actor before turning his hand to directing. However, Ron’s love affair with show business isn’t his only long-lasting relationship. That’s because the filmmaker has been married to his wife, Cheryl Alley, since 1975.

Image: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Ron and Cheryl first met in high school, and after five years of dating, they tied the knot. The pair have stood by one another ever since. Cheryl has supported Ron throughout his filmmaking career, and both of them have raised their four children with firm family values, which are now presumably being passed down to a new generation of Howards.

Image: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Seeing what Ron and Cheryl have achieved throughout their four decades of marriage, it’s hard to imagine them ever being apart. However, Ron has openly confessed that their teenage romance shouldn’t have stood the test of time. And now he has revealed exactly how he felt about Cheryl when they first met as teens.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Ron and Cheryl have known each other since long before he found success as a movie director. In fact, they met way back when they were teenagers at John Burroughs High School in Burbank, California. They enjoyed their first date on November 1, 1970. And the rest – as they say – is history.

Image: Kevin John Berry/Fairfax Media via Getty Images

The couple married young, tying the knot on June 7, 1975. And since that day, Cheryl has stood by Ron’s side throughout his career, which had already taken off in 1960, when he began starring as Opie Taylor in The Andy Griffith Show. At the time of his nuptials, Ron was playing Richie Cunningham in Happy Days while also enjoying stints in movies.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Bettmann/Getty Images

It was during his time on Happy Days that Ron turned his hand to directing. His first stint in the chair came in 1977 when he directed the comedy movie Grand Theft Auto. And three years later, in 1980, Ron decided to quit Happy Days to focus on working behind the camera, rather than in front of it.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

A shift in the direction of his career wasn’t the only change the ’80s brought about for Ron. Because in 1981 he and Cheryl welcomed their first child, a daughter named Bryce Dallas Howard. They went on to have twin girls, Paige and Jocelyn Carlyle Howard, in 1985, and a son, Reed Cross Howard, in 1987.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Interestingly, Ron and Cheryl chose to give their children middle names according to the place in which they were conceived. As such, it seems that Bryce was conceived in Dallas, Texas, twins Paige and Jocelyn in New York’s Carlyle Hotel and Reed Cross at an address in London. But hinting that his son may have been conceived in a car, Ron once joked, “Volvo isn’t a very good middle name.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Ron and Cheryl decided to raise their family away from the bright lights of Hollywood, settling instead in Greenwich, Connecticut. However, the movies remained a huge part of their life. And Ron went on to have success directing films such as Willow, Splash and Apollo 13.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Surely one of Ron’s proudest moments came in 2002 when he won the Best Director Oscar for his film A Beautiful Mind. And in his acceptance speech at the Academy Awards, he paid tribute to his “incredible wife, Cheryl,” sweetly adding, “she’s something” as the crowd began to applaud the woman behind the award-winning director.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

However, Cheryl had not only supported Ron throughout his career. She had also become his unofficial mascot, taking on bit parts in many of his movies. As far back as 1977, Cheryl starred as a reporter in brown hat in her husband’s directorial debut Grand Theft Auto. But her contribution to the movie went uncredited.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images

After that, Cheryl appeared as a kissing girl in Ron’s 1982 movie Night Shift, a wedding guest in 1984’s Splash, and in 1988 she starred as a Nelwyn villager in Willow. Cheryl also enjoyed small roles in The Paper and Apollo 13, and in A Beautiful Mind Ron cast her as a Harvard administrator.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

The 2000s brought Ron further directing success. Some of his films from this decade included the adaptation of Dan Brown’s novels The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. The former was released as a movie in 2006, and once again Cheryl had a small role in a book-signing scene. She also starred in 2009’s Angels & Demons, this time playing a CERN scientist.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

According to her IMDb page, Cheryl has not appeared in any of Ron’s movies since 2009. However, in 2018 Ron revealed that she had in fact appeared in “all of them,” whether she’d been credited or not. Explaining why he’s cast Cheryl in every one of his films, Ron told Sunday Today, “She’s my lucky charm.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

In fact, Ron wanted to get her into his 2018 film Solo: A Star Wars Story so badly that he went to extreme lengths to do so. “We had to green screen her into Solo,” he revealed. “I cut the scene that she was in, and I felt badly about it. Cheryl doesn’t care, but I care because it’s my only superstition.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Chris Jackson/Getty Images for Ferragamo

With that said, it’s unclear how Ron will manage to shoehorn Cheryl into his latest project. Because 2019 will see the release of Pavarotti, Ron’s documentary about the legendary Italian opera singer Luciano Pavarotti. Consequently, it’s unlikely that Cheryl will get a credit this time around.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

While Ron has kept busy with his filmmaking career, it seems he always takes time for Cheryl and their family. In fact, they regularly appear in updates on the director’s Instagram page, giving fans a rare insight into Ron and Cheryl’s personal life. And judging by the images he shares of his wife and children, the family share an extremely close bond.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

Recently, Ron and Cheryl have been joined in the movie industry by two of their children, Bryce and Paige, who are both actresses. Paige has starred in a handful of TV and movie roles. Meanwhile, Bryce has attracted attention for her appearances in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, Terminator Salvation, Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Through Bryce, Ron and Cheryl became grandparents for the first time when she gave birth to her son Theodore Norman Howard Gabel to her husband Seth Gabel in 2007. They welcomed another grandchild in 2012 when Bryce delivered a girl named Beatrice Jean Howard Gabel. As of 2019 Ron and Cheryl are grandparents to five children.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

In 2011 Ron and Cheryl’s daughter Bryce opened up about her famous family in an interview with The Guardian. And speaking of her parents’ union, she said, “My parents have a motto: My dad makes it, my mom manages it. She looks after their finances and their lives. That in itself is a full-time job. There’s not a film script of anything that my dad works on that my mom doesn’t read first or isn’t involved in.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Revealing the kind of upbringing Ron and Cheryl had provided for her and her siblings, Bryce continued, “Ours was a loving, nurturing household, but, at the same time, my parents’ goal was to make all their children self-sufficient. We lived way out in the boonies in Connecticut – there weren’t a lot of people coming to visit.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Byrce added, “My dad is the most humble man on the planet. He never showed us Happy Days or any of his acting roles. But in school holidays we would join him on film sets. My parents would never throw the kids in first class for the flights. They’d be up front and we’d be economy – we knew we were lucky just to be traveling.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Bryce also revealed a valued pointer her mother Cheryl had given to her after Bryce’s marriage to fellow actor Seth Gabel in 2006. “One of the greatest pieces of advice I got from my mom was when she said, ‘Choose the marriage over the kids,’” Bryce revealed. “Which is crazy but true.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Explaining what Cheryl had meant, Byrce added, “When you’re a full-time working mum, barely rested, if you have a free moment your mother’s instinct is to go to your child. I would always go to Theo. But my mom said there’s going to be a moment where you can’t do both. She said that when you’re spending your whole lives together – you must put a lot of work and attention into the marriage. That is what makes my parents really healthy balanced individuals.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

After Byrce’s revealing interview, Ron also opened up about his marriage to Cheryl in an interview with the Daily Express in 2015. In it, he praised his wife, and spoke of the importance of their union. “Marriage has been the single most important part of my life,” Ron revealed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Explaining how his marriage to Cheryl had affected his approach to life, Ron added, “I take it very seriously. It changed my way of thinking in that I concentrated on work when I was working and wife and family when I was at home. They have followed me on film sets all over the world, too.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Frank Trapper/Corbis via Getty Images

However, Ron insisted that he and Cheryl hadn’t stumbled upon a magic formula for happiness. To the contrary, he put the success of his marriage down to hard work alone. “There is no secret to a long marriage in Hollywood,” Ron said. “You either want it – or you don’t. Perhaps too many do not, or they don’t work hard enough at it. I did. I was only 21 but knew that I would never find a better woman.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images

That said, in another interview with HuffPost Live, Ron did acknowledge his marriage with Cheryl had benefited from some amount of good fortune. “It does take a little luck to grow together, and that’s what’s required. Compatibility and her good patience,” he said. “That’s been a real blessing, but I also don’t like to hold it up as if I have some kind of inside secret.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images

Ron added, “I felt real lucky when we met. It’s crazy, we were teenagers. It shouldn’t have worked. We got married young, that shouldn’t have worked either, and yet it really and truly has. I think these things are part effort, but I don’t think you can will that kind of thing into existence. It just may not be for everybody, but it’s certainly for Cheryl and I, and I’m grateful for it.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images

Moreover, in 2019 Ron gave a further insight into his long-lasting relationship with Cheryl during an interview with People. And in it, he revealed how he’d felt about his high-school sweetheart when they first met as teenagers. “I met her, and there was never anybody else,” the esteemed film director simply said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Ron’s sweet words came shortly after his and Cheryl’s 44th wedding anniversary, and the filmmaker revealed that “communication” has been the single most important factor in their long-lasting relationship. “People say, ‘How’d you do it?’ There’s no technique. There’s no tactic other than communication is really important,” he revealed.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

In his interview with People, Ron suggested that talking was the best way for couples to overcome any differences. “You have to learn to communicate and have difficult conversations in constructive ways,” he said. “Beyond that, there’s an element of luck because people either grow together or they don’t, and I don’t think you can force that.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images

Because Ron and Cheryl had grown together, they’ve been able to stick by one another throughout the decades, tackling fame, success, parenthood and grandparenthood. “She’s unbelievably supportive and always has been,” Ron said of Cheryl. “Our compatibility has endured through all kinds of experiences.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Given the support Ron has received from Cheryl, he’s always eager to sing her praises via social media. For example, in 2014, Ron shared a throwback snap on Instagram, showing him and Cheryl at a school dance. “Backward Dance. Burroughs High School in Burbank ’71. Cheryl made that formal. It was my first corsage pinning experience,” he wrote as his caption.

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Another vintage photo showed Ron and Cheryl at their wedding in 1975. In the image, he wears a light-colored suit and bow tie, while she is dressed in white and holds a bridal bouquet. Shared to Ron’s Instagram in June 2015, the director’s caption read, “Our wedding happened 40 years ago today – Wow!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

And in 2016 Ron took his Instagram followers even further down memory lane when he shared a picture taken during his first date with Cheryl. “First time Cheryl Alley visited me on a set,” Ron wrote, regarding the black and white photo. “The Smith Family December ’70. She’s been Cheryl Howard since ’75. Lucky me.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

Furthermore, in November 2018 Ron shared another snap from that historic first date with Cheryl. It showed the young pair smiling at each other, and was apparently their first picture together. “48 years ago today Cheryl Alley and Ronny Howard had their first date,” Ron wrote. “Here we were in those days.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

It seems that Ron tried to recreate the magic of their first date around 48 years later in November 2018. Posing for a photograph in front of a vintage Volkswagen Beetle, the director revealed a romantic gesture. “Quite a ride,” he wrote. “Cheryl and me celebrating our first date November 1, ’70. I picked Cheryl up in this very #VWBug. Kids and grandkids later, we are still goin’ out!”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Instagram/realronhoward

One of Ron’s most recent tributes to Cheryl came in May 2019, the day before Mother’s Day. Posting a selfie of himself and his wife on Instagram, Ron wrote that there were “Quite a few remarkable Moms to celebrate in [his] family.” For that fact, the famous filmmaker added, “We are very fortunate.”

ADVERTISEMENT
Image: Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

However, he saved the bulk of his Mother’s Day praise for Cheryl herself. Expressing his gratitude to his spouse of 44 years, Ron wrote, “The mom in this photo (who happens to be my wife) has made so many good things possible, and so many difficult things manageable. I’m forever grateful.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT