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    The Only Major Actors Still Alive From The Andy Griffith Show

    You recognize that rascally redhead with a spark in his eyes, don’t you? Long before he took the reins on “Willow,” blasted Tom Hanks into space on an ill-fated mission, and provided the perfect amount of deadpan comedy as the narrator on “Arrested Development,” Ron Howard got his first prominent role in the industry by landing the gig of a lifetime on “The Andy Griffith Show” at an incredibly early age. As Sheriff Taylor’s young son Opie, Howard appeared in the vast majority of episodes (well over 200 of them) and thoroughly put his widowed father’s parenting skills to the test. In essence, audiences were able to watch the fresh-faced Howard grow up right in front of their eyes throughout the eight seasons of the sitcom, getting a taste of all the nuances and complexities inherent in the idea of growing up into one’s teenage years alongside Opie.

    In the decades since, Howard continued to act (most famously appearing in George Lucas’ “American Graffiti” in 1973) before ultimately returning to his clear passion: directing. By the early 2000s, the filmmaker had fully established himself as a supremely confident and capable journeyman with several box office hits and critically acclaimed films under his belt — from “A Beautiful Mind,” “Cinderella Man,” and “Frost/Nixon” to more recent efforts such as “Rush,” “Solo: A Star Wars Story” (which he famously took over mid-production and brought across the finish line), and last year’s “Thirteen Lives.” Now 69 years old, Howard shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. But for many fans, he’ll always be the freckled and surprisingly kind-hearted Opie.

    Oh, and fun fact: his younger brother Clint also appeared in a few episodes of the show (without any lines) as a kid named Leon. Two Howards? In this economy?

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