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Ron Howard has the kind of face that refuses to age. No matter how much hair he loses, or how much facial hair he grows, he continues to exude a boyish charm. For some viewers, he will always be known as Opie Taylor, for others as Richie Cunningham, while some confused TV audience members might remember him as Opie Cunningham.
Howard was born on March 1,1954 in Duncan, Oklahoma. His parents were theater actors and in 1959 the Howards relocated to Hollywood. Young Ron immediately joined the family business. His first television role was on an episode of "Playhouse 90" and was followed by an appearance on "The Red Skelton Show." He also guest-starred on four episodes of "Dennis the Menace" and five episodes of "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis."
In 1960, Howard was only six years old but he was already an accomplished television veteran. He was picked to play Opie Taylor on "The Andy Griffith Show" and stayed with the series for eight years, growing up in front of the television audience. During this period, the prolific child star also found time to appear on numerous other television shows and films, including the 1962 version of "The Music Man" and the 1963 movie "The Courtship of Eddie's Father."
In 1973, Howard became a bona fide star with the success of the movie "American Graffiti." He played Steve Bollander in this George Lucas film, which helped kickstart a 1950s revival. Because of Howard's stardom and the sudden popularity of 1950s nostalgia, ABC brought "Happy Days" to the air in 1974. Howard starred as Richie Cunningham, the innocently charming boy next door.
Despite the demanding schedule on "Happy Days," Howard worked to expand his career into the realm of directing. He had experimented with short films since he was a teenager and in the mid-70s he got a chance to direct his first feature-length film. Legendary B-movie producer Roger Corman agreed to bankroll the effort on one condition. Howard had to star in a film called "Eat My Dust." Howard did so and his directorial debut, "Grand Theft Auto," was released in 1977.
In 1980, with "Happy Days" still gathering high ratings, Howard left the series to pursue his directing career. The show's writers handled his departure by enrolling Richie in the army and stationing him in Greenland. This move may have hurt "Happy Days," but it certainly didn't hurt Howard's career. As a director, he has compiled a truly impressive list of hit films, including "Night Shift" (1982), "Splash" (1984), "Cocoon" (1985), "Parenthood" (1989), "Backdraft" (1991), "The Paper" (1994) and "Apollo 13" (1995).