After an eye-catching performance in the teen coming-of-age epic The Outsiders (1983), ex-child rodeo star C. Thomas Howell was one of the most promising young actors in the mid 1980s. Christopher Thomas Howell was born in Los Angeles, California, to Candice (Webb) and Chris Howell, a professional bull rider turned stuntman. He started working in the film industry at the age of seven. In 1981, he was cast as Tyler in Steven Spielbergs E.T. The Extra Terrestrial. Shortly thereafter, he nabbed the lead in Francis Ford Coppolas classic The Outsiders, starring opposite the likes of Diane Lane, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon, and Tom Cruise. It was Howells gripping performance as the tough, yet vulnerable Ponyboy Curtis that made him a household name virtually overnight. Earmarked as an up-and-coming actor, Howells career soon skyrocketed with roles in films including the comedy Grandview, U.S.A.