Ronald William "Ron" Howard (born March 1, 1954) is an American actor, director and producer. He came to prominence as a child actor, playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later as the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days for six years. He made film appearances such as in American Graffiti in 1973 and while starring in Happy Days he also made The Shootist in 1976, as well as making his directorial debut with the 1977 comedy film Grand Theft Auto. He left Happy Days in 1980 to focus on directing, and has since gone on to direct several films, including the Oscar winning Cocoon, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. In 2003, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Howard was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, the son of Jean Speegle Howard, an actress, and Rance Howard, a director, writer and actor, who was serving three years in the United States Air Force at the time. His family moved to Hollywood, California, in 1958, the year before the birth of his younger brother, Clint Howard. They rented a house on the next block south of the Desilu Studios in Hollywood, California on N. Cahuenga Blvd., in anticipation of the success of the Andy Griffith Show, in which Howard had been cast. They lived in Hollywood, CA for at least three years, before moving to Burbank. After a successful pilot, the producers decided to take a chance and start filming the series immediately. Ron was tutored at the studio in his younger years. Howard graduated from John Burroughs High School, and later attended the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts, but did not graduate.
In 1959, he had his first credited film role, in "The Journey," and appeared in June Allyson's CBS anthology series The DuPont Show with June Allyson in the episode "Child Lost," as well as The Twilight Zone episode "Walking Distance," about a man (Gig Young) who learns that he cannot go home again. He also appeared in a few episodes as "Stewart" (one of Dennis' friends) in the first season of the sitcom Dennis the Menace.