Ron Howard Confession: I Was A Draft Dodger!

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In an astonishing confession, Ron Howard, who starred as wholesome 1950s teen Richie Cunningham on “Happy Days,” admitted he joined the sitcom to get out of serving his country in the Vietnam War!

The once-adorable redheaded child star — and director of big-screen hits “A Beautiful Mind” and “Apollo 13” — admits using his star power as a “draft dodge”!

Ron, now 61, first became a household name playing little Opie Taylor on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and was studying at the University of Southern California when he was suddenly at risk of being shipped overseas, where kids were dying.

Ron revealed he bolted film school when the “Happy Days” offer arrived — hoping his star power would get him out of harm’s way.

The draft lottery was in full swing when Ron turned 18 — and his number put him in Uncle Sam’s crosshairs.

Even though he was not a huge fan of the “Happy Days” slapstick humor, Ron joined the series “because I had a terrible draft number. And all the deferments were dried up. I felt like: ‘A network like ABC or a studio like Paramount will figure out how to keep their lead guy out of the jungle.’ It was a bit of a draft dodge.”

A pilot for “Happy Days” was shot in 1971, and the now-beloved series started airing three years later.

The draft ended in 1973 — and Ron was never called to serve.