Childhood & Early Life
Cheryl Howard was born Cheryl Gay Alley on December 23, 1953, in Glendale, California, US, to Charles Alley and Vivian Schmid. Her father was a chemical and aerospace engineer, marksman, and an amateur astronomer, who was supposed to be the oldest competitive aerobatic pilot around the world at the time of his demise. Cheryl had two sisters.
Cheryl would remain engrossed with adventure stories and fairy tales in her childhood. She was fascinated by real life accounts of globe trotters and was highly inspired by her father’s adventures - be it jumping trains at the time of Depression or becoming the first Caucasian to climb atop Mt. Fujiama during winter.
Motivated by her father’s adventures and feats, she developed interest in both travel and adventures. She learnt to operate shot guns from the age of five, raised wild animals at home, including skunks, an anteater, and monkeys, and flew planes. She also took an extra hunter-safety course.
She attended California State University at Northridge and obtained a B.A. degree in Psychology. She also earned a Masters of Fine Arts degree in screenwriting.
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She discovered her writing skills after earning her BA degree. Following a two-year writing fellowship from the American Film Institute, she garnered development deals and an optioned screenplay.
She appeared in an uncredited role of a reporter in brown hat in the directorial debut film of her husband titled ‘Grand Theft Auto’ that released on June 16, 1977, and became a blockbuster hit grossing over $15 million at box-office.
In the 1980s, she featured in three films of Howard - all commercial successes! These included uncredited roles in the comedy film, ‘Night Shift’ (1982) and the Academy Awards nominated high fantasy film, ‘Willow’ (1988); and the fantasy romantic comedy film, ‘Splash’ (1984).
She played a Redheaded Barmaid in the critically and commercially successful Howard film, ‘The Paper,’ a comedy-drama that released on March 18, 1994.
She appeared as an uncredited background performer in the Oscar-winning 1995 space docudrama film, ‘Apollo 13’ directed by Howard. During the 1990s, she featured in two more films directed by Howard. These were ‘Ransom’ (1996) and ‘Edtv’ (1999).
Fascinated by the diversity of different races, cultures, customs and spirituality, added with her passion for travel and adventure, Cheryl has traveled extensively around the world. These included places like South Africa, Australia, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Egypt, New Zealand, India, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Japan, apart from travelling across Europe.
During 1996-1997, she visited Central Asia, which encouraged her to pen down ‘In the Face of Jinn: A Novel’. The novel was originally published on April 1, 2005. Other books written by her are ‘Heart & Desire’ and ‘Grandma, Tell Me a Story: Children's Devotional Stories from the Farm.’
Four Academy Award-winning biographical drama film, ‘A Beautiful Mind,’ based on life of Nobel Laureate in Economics John Nash. The film was directed by Howard and featured Russell Crowe in the lead role. It released in 2001 and went on to gross a whooping $313 million at box-office against a budget of $58 million.
She also featured in an uncredited role in the commercially hit mystery thriller, ‘The Da Vinci Code’ (2006) and as a CERN Scientist in its blockbuster hit sequel, ‘Angels & Demons’ (2009), both directed by Howard.
She married her high school sweetheart Ron Howard on June 7, 1975. They have four children - daughter Bryce Dallas (born in 1981), twin daughters, Jocelyn Carlyle and Paige (born in 1985), and son, Reed Cross (born in 1987). Both Bryce Dallas and Paige are actresses. Cheryl became grandmother when Bryce gave birth to a son, Theodore Norman Howard-Gabel, on February 16, 2007.
Parents-in-law of Cheryl, Rance Howard and Jean Speegle Howard, were also into acting. Her brother-in-law, Clint Howard, and son-in-law, Seth Gabel, are also actors.