More than 40 years ago Tom Howard owned a bicycle shop on El Dorado Street at Harding Way in Stockton. In the early to mid-1970s he moved to Southern California to run a bicycle shop and to advance his acting career. It was a 1966 newspaper clipping of three riders wearing Stockton Bicycle Club jerseys that unfurled this little ball of yarn I continue to write about. You can read the initial column here. And the followup column here.
Howard, left in the clip above and in a recent photo below, was one of the founders of the Stockton Bicycle club – he is remembered as “Hollywood” Tom – and with others from the area made several bike trips from Stockton to Southern California. He said he and friends once rode from the Canada border to Stockton, that’s about 900 miles. But he has earned his living as an actor for a number of years. You can find him listed as Tom Howard and occasionally in his earlier work, T.J. Howard. The Oklahoma native said acting and bicycles were two of the things he always enjoyed.
Unlike a conventional job, owning a bike shop gave him the flexibility to go on auditions. All he had to do was find someone, often his parents, to cover his shop. And when trying to run a shop and act became too much, he sold the shop and focused solely on acting. Howard has appeared in a number of commercials, plays and movies including “JFK,” “Forrest Gump” and “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” You can find a sampling of his work here.
At age 74, Howard, who still rides 60-100 miles a week, is looking at semi-retirement but will continue to act and to ride his bike. He hopes to return to the San Joaquin Valley, a daughter lives in Stockton, to do a charity ride. For him, riding and acting are enjoyable ways to spend his time.
“I’ve been fortunate,” he said.