Rance Howard, a veteran character actor who portrayed priests and detectives and frequently appeared in the movies of his eldest son, Oscar-winning director Ron Howard, died Nov. 25. He was 89.
Ron Howard announced the death on Twitter but did not provide additional details.
Mr. Howard left his parent’s Oklahoma farm to pursue a career in acting. He eventually presided over a leading Hollywood family that included sons Ron and Clint Howard and granddaughters Bryce Dallas Howard and Paige Howard.
For decades, he sported a lilting Oklahoma accent and donned a cowboy hat off the set of films such as “Cool Hand Luke” (1967) and “Chinatown” (1974), where he played a farmer who disrupts a municipal hearing with a herd of bleating sheep. He also appeared in television shows including “Bat Masterson,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Waltons” and “Gentle Ben,” starring alongside his young son Clint and the friendly black bear of the show’s title.
Mr. Howard appeared in Ron Howard’s directorial debut, “Grand Theft Auto” (1977), and played small roles in nearly all of the director’s film and television work, including “Splash” (1984), “Apollo 13” (1995), “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” (2000), “A Beautiful Mind” (2001) and the NBC family drama “Parenthood.”
The father and son made their first film appearances in “Frontier Woman,” a low-budget 1956 Western in which Mr. Howard played the villain and his 18-month-old son played a crying baby. They reunited on-screen for programs including “The Andy Griffith Show.”
Harold Engle Beckenholdt was born in Kay County, Okla., on Nov. 17, 1928. He said he fell in love with acting while performing in a seventh-grade Christmas play.
“I was suddenly transformed into the character I was playing and realized I had control of the audience,” he told the Oklahoman newspaper in 2014. “When I came back to Earth a few days later, I knew I wanted to be an actor.”
Mr. Howard, who changed his name for casting purposes, studied drama at the University of Oklahoma and appeared alongside Henry Fonda in a national touring production of the World War II play “Mister Roberts.”
Actress Jean Speegle Howard, his wife of 51 years, died in 2000. The couple had met as teenagers during an Oklahoma production of classic children’s fairy tales. Mr. Howard married Judy O’Sullivan in 2001; she died in January.
A complete list of survivors was not immediately available.
Mr. Howard had most recently appeared in “Broken Memories,” a drama released this year. He played a father who struggled with Alzheimer’s disease in what Ron Howard called “the role of his career.”