Ronald William "Ron" Howard (born March 1, 1954) is an American film director, producer and former child actor. He came to prominence playing Opie Taylor in the sitcom The Andy Griffith Show for eight years, and later the teenaged Richie Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days for six years. He appeared in the films American Graffiti in 1973 and The Shootist in 1976, the latter during his run on Happy Days. Howard made his directorial debut with the 1977 comedy Grand Theft Auto, and left Happy Days in 1980 to focus on directing. His films include the Academy Award-winning Cocoon, Apollo 13, and A Beautiful Mind. In 2003, he was awarded the National Medal of Arts. Asteroid 12561 Howard is named after him.
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. The family moved to Hollywood in 1958, the year before the birth of his younger brother, Clint Howard. They rented a house on the block south of the Desilu Studios, where The Andy Griffith Show would later be filmed. They lived in Hollywood for at least three years, before moving to Burbank.
Howard was tutored at Desilu Studios in his younger years, and graduated from John Burroughs High School. He later attended the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts but did not graduate.
On June 7, 1975, Howard wed his high-school sweetheart, Cheryl (née Alley), a writer with a degree in geriatric psychology. Their first child, daughter Bryce Dallas Howard was born on March 2, 1981. Their twin daughters Jocelyn Carlyle Howard and Paige Carlyle Howard were born in 1985. Their fourth and last child and only son, Reed Cross Howard, was born in 1987. His daughters' middle names indicate where they were conceived, Bryce in Dallas, Texas, and twins Jocelyn and Paige at the Carlyle Hotel in New York City. Son Reed Cross was named after a London street because "Volvo isn't a very good middle name", according to Howard. Daughters Bryce and Paige are actresses. The family lives on a 35-acre (14 ha) estate in the gated community of Conyers Farm in Greenwich, Connecticut. Ron Howard became a grandfather when his daughter, Bryce, and son-in-law Seth Gabel welcomed their first child, son Theodore Norman Howard Gabel, on February 16, 2007. Ron Howard became a grandfather for the second time when Bryce and Seth welcomed their second child, daughter Beatrice Jean Howard Gabel, on January 19, 2012.
In the June 2006 issue of Vanity Fair magazine, Howard was asked, "What do you consider your greatest achievement?" He replied, "Forty-eight consecutive years of steady employment in television and film, while preserving a rich family life."