Its first season was mildly received, but Happy Days would gradually permeate the viewing public’s psyche. Before they knew it, the show had already established itself in their hearts; new additions and story shifts would make viewers exceedingly fond of it. The show would eventually become one of the most successful series in television history. In a similar manner to the show’s retrospective vision, join us as we uncover where the stars of the beloved show are today. Read on for some surprising discoveries.
“The Fonz” Was Almost Named “The Mash"
It wouldn’t be the first time a show’s creator would name a character or two after a person close to him or her; names derived from people one knows personally makes the cast of characters easier to remember, especially if you match up personality traits or make the naming choices significant in one way or another.
In the case of The Fonz, Garry Marshall wanted the character to have his original surname. So it should have been Arthur Masciarelli. But he liked the sound of “The Fonz” better than “The Mash,” so he decided to change it before the production started. He made a sound decision.
"American Graffiti" didn't inspire "Happy Days"
There’s a misconception that the Happy Days sitcom is an offshoot of the film, American Graffiti, by George Lucas. The series began as an unsold pilot, which Lucas requested to review. Based on that, he decided to cast Ron Howard for his film which turned out to be a hit.
Both Happy Days and American Graffiti were actually in the works at the same time, the latter simply debuted earlier. In fact, its success caused ABC to have a renewed interest in the pilot, and the '50s era. This led to the recasting of Happy Days and the decision to turn it into a series.
The "Happy Days" Pilot Was Rejected by ABC
The Happy Days series turned out to be wildly successful in the '70s. In 1976, it became the number one TV program, influencing how television styles would be conducted at the time. But did you know that it was rejected after it was first shown to the network as a pilot?
ABC actually passed on Happy Days when the show was first shown as a pilot. After American Graffiti became a huge motion picture success, executives realized it would be a huge mistake not to pick up the show, especially with Ron Howard attached to both projects.
Nobody Liked Pinky
After her initial introduction in the series, Pinky Tuscadero would soon be planned out by management as Fonzie’s long-term girlfriend. She was, after all, Fonzie’s female counterpart.
However, things weren’t as smooth in reality as they were in their fictional relationship. There was an animus of sorts between the two actors.
“Rock Around the Clock”
The theme song of the Happy Days series was “Rock Around the Clock,” performed by Bill Haley and the Comets, and it could be heard as soon as the episode started. Season one used this new version, recorded in 1973, and like the show itself, it would undergo some changes along the way.
From the third season onwards, the Happy Days theme song would be modified to make it sound more modern. This was written and performed by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. The recording would be commercially released only in 2005.
"Happy Days" Gave Us “Jumping The Shark”
The idiom “Jumping the Shark” originated from the Happy Days sitcom. Although the show started to pick up after Richie had been replaced by Fonzie, and their Broadway comedy style was effective enough to hook their audience, after some time the show’s popularity gradually began to dwindle.
In season 5, Fonzie goes water skiing wearing swimming trunks and his signature leather jacket. In this episode, he literally jumps over a shark, an outlandish scene that would surprise the remaining Happy Days viewers. This moment was so cringe-worthy it has gone down in history as “jumping the shark,” a term used when preposterous plot devices are resorted to in a desperate attempt to regain a show’s good ratings.
Chuck Cunningham Just Disappeared
We have already mentioned how Richie’s character would eventually leave for the military. It was a nice send off to eventually give way to Fonzie’s entry as the centre point of the show. Another character would suffer a similar fate due to his role being eclipsed by the Fonz’s appealing character.
Richie’s older brother, Chuck Cunningham, simply disappeared without any apparent reason in season 2. He was a college boy, and a basketball player, played by Gavan O’Herlihy. Gavan asked to leave the show, and Randolph Roberts replaced him until "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas," after which the character was just never mentioned again as if he never existed at all.
“I found my thrill… on Blueberry Hill”
As a 1950's teenager, Richie Cunningham was a role model. He was depicted as a wholesome, clean-cut young man, who always meant well. He was the quintessential example of the all-American boy next door.
Richie sometimes ran into trouble, mostly thanks to him being too gullible, and struggling with his endeavors to pick up women. Whenever he was lucky enough to win a date or find someone he really liked, he would sing, “I found my thrill… on Blueberry Hill”, a song by Fats Domino.
During the filming of the pilot and the first two seasons, the production team used nothing more than a single camera and a laugh track. To adjust to the standards and the filming style of the time, from 1975 to 1984, they shifted to a three-camera production rig and filmed in front of a live audience.
If you look closely as it transitions from the second season onward, there were some rearrangements around the house to accommodate the multiple cameras.
They Didn't Really Film In Wisconsin
This won’t come as a total surprise, but it is still a fun fact that deserves to be shared, especially for all of you true Happy Days fans. The story of the show revolves around the beloved Cunninghams, and it states that they officially lived at 565 North Clinton Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
However, the production setup was in a lot owned by Paramount in California. It wouldn’t make sense to travel all the way from one state to another to film the many episodes that made up Happy Days. The shots from outside the home were taken at another location - 565 N. Cahuenga Blvd in Los Angeles, California.
“Love and the Television Set”
It is quite possible that Happy Days would not have been made if George Lucas wasn’t so successful with American Graffiti. As we mentioned briefly before, Happy Days had been made ahead of Lucas’ film. In fact, its unsold pilot was initially aired in 1972.
The segment “Love and the Television Set” was on ABC’s anthology show, Love, American Style. The success of American Graffiti reignited the public’s interest in the 1950s, and the network took advantage of this opportunity to film Happy Days, striking when the iron was hot.
The Show's New Star
Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, wouldn’t have a significant role in the sitcom after his exit during the second season. After seven seasons, it was quite understandable that actor Ron Howard would leave the show for better opportunities elsewhere. He wanted to grow within the entertainment industry and pursue other interests.
Howard would still show up once in a while in the series, returning to make guest appearances, but Henry Winkler, who played the Fonz, clearly was the new head honcho. He would be given top billing during the opening credits when season 8 began.
A National Treasure
The Happy Days television sitcom eventually found its way into the hearts of its viewing audience after a number of modifications to its style, so much so that the show has even inspired spin-offs, new shows albeit not nearly as successful, and a musical tour in 2008.
This makes clear just how popular the show has become, permeating through American society, influencing how TV in general was made at the time. With Happy Days having such a deep impact on American culture, the Smithsonian Institution sought out Fonzie’s signature leather jacket to be displayed at the National Museum of American History.
The Fonz: Animated
After Happy Days went off the air, some of its cast members were able to ride the last waves of its popularity. There were crumbs from its main storyline that were good enough to make new shows out of.
The Fonz, for example, appeared in not one, but two animated TV shows of his own: The Fonz, and The Happy Days Gang. These didn’t pan out well though, and he decided to shift his attention to the spinoff of Laverne & Shirley titled Laverne & Shirley In The Army.
Happy Days Started Off A Bit Differently...
By now, we are all aware that the Happy Days television sitcom struggled during its inception. They tried to sell the idea of bringing back the feel of the good old fifties, but the network had its doubts. In 1971, it started with a different title. They named it New Family in Town, which was also produced by Garry Marshall.
It introduced the same characters—Richie, Howard, Marion, and Potsie—which were played by the same actors—Ron Howard, Marion Ross, and Anson Williams. Way back then, before its numerable syndications. Mr. Cunningham was played by Harold Gould.
Thankful For Happy Days
For a while, it seemed like the concept of Happy Days would go into a deep and long-forgotten slumber. Nobody seemed interested in it, at least not until George Lucas’ American Graffiti persuaded them otherwise.
When ABC realized what they were missing, the cast was in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration. This was back in 1973. When the network informed them about its decision to finally pick it up, there were no scripts yet written. No-one had foreseen all this, and they only had a few months to work on everything before its January 1974 premiere.
"Fonzie’s Happy Days"?!
In later seasons, the Fonz had undoubtedly become the heart of the Happy Days sitcom, so whatever the theme of a particular episode was, even if it was about Joanie and her boyfriend Chachi, one could expect Fonzie to show up in one way or another. He simply excited everyone because he was funny, cool, and kind-hearted.
There came a point in the series where the production team thought about making a major change, modifying its title to Fonzie’s Happy Days. Quite clearly they didn’t go ahead with it. Do you think it would have worked? We’re not so sure.
Title Had To Be Modified After Syndication
After the second season of Happy Days, it became clear that the series was going to be around for some time. It ran from 1974 to 1984, and entering its seventh season, off-network syndication began.
This was in 1979, and they were still producing new episodes. To avoid any confusion, to distinguish new ones from reruns, its management decided to retitle reruns to Happy Days Again. Some episodes still air under that modified title.
The Fonz's Original Signature Look
During the early seasons of Happy Days, when stories mainly revolved around Richie’s goody two shoe personality, “The Fonz” played a smaller role. He used to wear a windbreaker instead of the leather jacket he was famous for when he became more popular.
Since he was a cool biker and a high school dropout, director Gary Marshall felt the leather jacket was a more appropriate accessory for his character. The only fear they had was that he might appear as a hoodlum, which he wasn’t. It all worked out just fine for Fonzie though, and they soon ditched his windbreaker.
A Family Show
Through the beloved television sitcom he was responsible for, one can see that director, Garry Marshall, is a likable guy. He’s also got a mischievous streak and whenever the opportunity arose, he liked to jump into Happy Days scenes to play drums during musical moments.
We already mentioned how he liked to use names of people he knew personally for his characters. Well, Marshall also had this habit of having his family members appear in cameo roles on Happy Days. Penny Marshall is one of his sisters, and she is best known for her role as Laverne from Laverne & Shirley.
"Joanie" and "Chachi" Dated In Real Life
Joanie and Chachi made for a really nice couple. They appeared to be so made for each other and their characters would eventually marry. In the most adorable turn of events, the actors behind both characters themselves, Scott Baio and Erin Moran, dated during the show’s run.
While their relationship was of the on-again, off-again variety, what was cool about it was that they were able to maintain their professionalism at work. There were never any fights or tantrums on the Happy Days set, and their relationship was a not-so-well-kept secret among the rest of the cast members.
Robby Benson Couldn't be Richie
Robby Benson is known for his coming-of-age roles in shows like Jory, and Jeremy. Nowadays, his credentials are focused more on his directorial adventures. However, during the pre-production period of Happy Days, he was favored by the network to play Richie Cunningham’s role.
Robby Benson had different career plans at the time. He wasn’t into TV sitcoms because he wanted more serious roles in film. To avoid being chosen for the role, Benson (and Marshall, who was onboard with Benson’s plan) purposely messed things up during the audition to make way for Howard.
Ron Howard On Happy Days
Ron Howard’s character, Richie Cunningham, was the focal point of Happy Days, particularly in its first two seasons. His part was critical to the success of the sitcom, and from there it would be extended to nine more seasons. Richie wouldn’t remain the focus of succeeding episodes, as more characters would be added, and its style would gradually shift to a broader and more universally appealing kind of comedy.
Prior to joining the Happy Days cast, Ron Howard was known for his famous role in The Andy Griffith Show. Casting directors found his personality to be a perfect fit for the role of an innocent teenager who would always want to do what’s right for his family and friends.
Ron Howard's Career
Ron Howard’s character faded from the spotlight as Richie Cunningham left his family and friends for the war. However, Ron Howard’s working life remained stable after Happy Days. He went on to transcend his acting and venture further as a director.
Howard is now one of the most successful directors in Hollywood. Samples of his best works include Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, A Beautiful Mind, and The DaVinci Code, making him an icon in the industry. He inspired his daughter so much that she decided to follow in his footsteps. Carving a name for herself, Bryce Dallas Howard has appeared in popular movies such as The Help, Jurassic World, and The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
Anson Williams is the Jukebox!?
Happy Days was not only an opportunity for Anson Williams to shine as an actor. Back in the day, the requirement to use popular 50's tunes in the show was stringent. While these demands were initially met, the producers eventually balked at the expensive fees.
This is where Anson Williams came in. Also a singer, he provided the show with his music; his voice was heard regularly through the jukebox at Arnold’s restaurant, which was one of the show’s main sets. Williams’ played a suitable character as a hopeful musician.
Henry Winkler On Happy Days
Although the show initially started with Richie Cunningham as its lead character, things didn’t pan out as they had expected. The show’s creators realized that the general viewers had developed a special liking for “The Fonz,” a funny, rugged-looking young man with a heart of gold, played by Henry Winkler.
The Fonz would go on to become the iconic star of Happy Days, his character known even by people who never saw the show, simply through social osmosis. In one episode, while water skiing, The Fonz jumped over a confined shark, and this moment became enshrined in the idiom “jumping the shark.” The phrase is now used to describe the way a failing show’s irrelevance is highlighted by the very plot device employed to try to regain popularity.
Henry Winkler's Career
The beloved Henry Winkler had a ton of acting opportunities offered to him after Happy Days. He was wildly successful for his role as “The Fonz,” and new avenues opened up for him as an actor and singer. But Winkler would eventually fade away from the spotlight for years.
Instead of holding on to the spotlight, he opted to start a production company and work behind the scenes. Winkler was responsible for MacGyver, Mr. Sunshine, and other successful TV shows. It would be some time before he would resurface onscreen himself, working with comedian Adam Sandler, in minor or supporting roles. Winkler had cameos in some popular TV shows as well. The truth is, Winkle is more of a behind-the-scenes kinda guy, as evidenced by the fact that he’s authored a remarkable 26 books as of today.
Tom Bosley On Happy Days
Tom Bosley played the head of the household in the beloved Cunningham family, the father of Richie and Joanie. He appeared in every single episode of the sitcom, and beyond the screen has become America’s ideal father figure: loving, supportive, and often witnessed in a didactic scene with his kids.
The character was a good and simple man, the owner of the Cunningham hardware store who, in his free time, likes to read the paper in an easy chair. He also likes to drive his Suburban around town. Nobody gives a good lecture, imparting good old family values to the young generation, like “Mr. C.”
Tom Bosley's Career
After the Happy Days’ sitcom ended, Tom Bosley continued to flourish as an actor. He even got a number of endorsements and did several commercials. Bosley became famous for his role on the NBC/ABC series, The Father Dowling Mysteries. He also worked on a Broadway musical titled Fiorello!, for which he was given the Tony Award in 1960.
Tom Bosley worked consistently, even taking on voice acting on the side. He made guest appearances in shows like That ‘70s Show, Walker Texas Ranger, and ER. While he lived a long and fruitful life, Tom, unfortunately, went on to battle lung cancer. He died in 2010 at the age of 83.
Marion Ross On Happy Days
Marion Ross played the matriarchal role of “Mrs. C,” mother of Richie and Joanie. Being the affable parent who is easy to lean on, it was impossible to imagine the show without her. In fact, she consistently appeared all throughout the series.
Mrs. C was a traditional homemaker. And like many real-life housewives, she got fed up of her routine role in the home. She would take a job as a waitress in the “Marion Rebels” episode, and she often got herself into situations mothers everywhere could relate with, and they loved her character for it.
Marion Ross' Career
Marion Ross’ character would always draw huge applause from the live audiences during the making of Happy Days. She was one of the sweetest characters ever conceived in television history. When all the lights went out for the Happy Days sitcom, she continued to appear in a number of films, though many were passing roles.
Her work in television, however, was lucrative. Marion’s performance in Brooklyn Bridge earned her two Emmy nominations. She continued to appear, even in modern shows such as That ’70s Show, Gilmore Girls, The Drew Carey Show, Two and a Half Men, and Hot in Cleveland. She has now broken the 90 years mark and is still going strong. What a legend.
Erin Moran On Happy Days
Erin Moran stared in the Happy Days series as Joanie, Richie Cunningham’s younger sister. She’s the typical sister that keeps nosing around people’s business. Richie was endlessly getting into trouble because of her antics, and whenever she was around, you could bet she was probably up to something.
She dated a boy once who got her into a motorcycle gang. Wanting to be “in,” she started smoking to look cool until Fonzie (of all people!) checked her. Joanie was so full of energy that her character and Chachi’s would spin off into a new series Joanie Loves Chachi.
Erin Moran's Career
Erin Moran’s ambition to become an actress was passionately supported by her mother. She had her first acting role when she was only five years old, in a TV commercial. And by the time she starred as Joanie in the TV series, Happy Days, Erin Moran must have had about ten acting credits to her name.
After the short-lived spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi, the show was canceled, and she returned to Happy Days for its season finale. Moran went on to star in movies like The Love Boat, and shows like Murder She Wrote, in the following years.
Roz Kelly On Happy Days
Happy Days was Roz Kelly’s first major opportunity to pursue her career in acting. She began with minor appearances as a traveling demolition driver, the older sister of Leather Tuscadero. Her early relationship with Fonzie clicked, and the show’s commercials would soon hint of her becoming Fonzie’s long-term girlfriend in the coming season.
However, Roz Kelly’s relationship with the rest of the cast and producers turned sour, and this caused her character to be dropped eventually; with it her chance of a lifetime as an actress. Prior to Happy Days, Roz worked as a staff photographer for New York Magazine.
Roz Kelly's Career
It could be argued that Roz Kelly had the potential to become a successful actress. She had an eye for photography, and her artistic inclinations could have helped her in the industry. However, following her character being dropped from the show, her other unfavorable traits would soon surface.
It seems that she had a temperament problem she could hardly contain. After her neighbor’s car alarm went off and woke her up one morning, she became infuriated and shot at their home with a shotgun. Two years after the incident, she reportedly hit a man with a cane and was sentenced to 120 days in jail.
Scott Baio On Happy Days
After season five, there had been many additions to the cast of Happy Days. One of them was Scott Baio who played the role of Chachi, Fonzie’s cousin. Soon the episodes would focus on Charles “Chachi” Arcola and Joanie who became lovers. The two would later on marry in the season finale.
Chachi was an aspiring musician, but it was his relationship with Joanie that would make him famous. At the time of his involvement in Happy Days, Scott Baio would receive up to 5,000 letters from his fans each week.
Scott Baio's Career
Scott Baio became very famous for playing the role of Chachi in Happy Days. For that, he was able to show his capability to portray leading roles, which didn’t go unnoticed. He also became a certified heartthrob, and this would continue during adulthood.
After his fans went gaga over the launching of Joanie Loves Chachi, he would also star in a new sitcom, Charles in Charge, that lasted for five seasons. He was nominated for two Emmy Awards for shows, Stoned, and , All the Kids Do It. With the recent introduction of reality shows, Scott jumped on board with Scott Baio is 45… and Single, as well as its follow-up — Scott Baio is 46… and Pregnant.
Happy Days in the 1920s or 1930s
The Happy Days sitcom has become one of the most syndicated shows in TV history. But not many know that it ought to have been written based on a different era. Its creator, Garry Marshall was approached by network executives to produce and direct a show based on the 1920s or the 1930s.
Marshall was keen on doing the show, except that he didn’t know anything substantial about the designated era, nor about the flappers. He counter-offered to write a pilot about the 1950s instead since he grew up in those years and felt he had much to share based on his experiences. While Marshall’s pilot wasn’t a hit right away (more on that soon), its creation still marks the moment when Happy Days was born.
Anson Williams On Happy Days
American actor, Anson Williams, was only 22 years old when he auditioned for Happy Days. He was still unknown at the time, and little did he know that his role as Potsie would earn him a nomination for a Golden Globe in the category of Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film.
Like his character, Williams was just trying to make it in the industry. It was an opportunity he almost missed, by the way, after his car broke down while on his way to the audition. Somehow, through sheer determination, he still made it there, barely in time, to capture that coveted role.
Anson Williams' Career
Anson Williams’ success in Happy Days didn’t encourage him to pursue further acting roles. But he remains in the entertainment industry as a director and producer. He started with programs that focused on the young adult age range. His works include Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Charmed, Star Trek: Voyager, and 90210.
Anson Williams gets nostalgic every now and then about Happy Days, and while directing Sabrina the Teenage Witch, in one episode, he inserted himself as Potsie in a fantasy sequence.
“Cool” Or "Happy Days"?
The management of the show had warmed up to the idea of setting it in the 1950s, with Gary Marshall at the helm. The idea was to revisit a time when idealized visions of life could be effectively presented to a modern audience. They first thought about naming the show “Cool.”
However, the word “cool” seemed to have a different effect on the test audience. Instead of inspiring pleasant traits and qualities, they said, in their minds, it bore resemblance to smoking cigarettes, or skipping school, free-spirited traits, etc. Producer, Carl Kleinschmidt, was struck with inspiration and suggested, “how about calling it Happy Days?” And that’s how it all started.
The Fonz Should Have Been a Monkee
Looking back to the Happy Days series, one realizes how vital it was to make changes after the first two seasons. If Richie had not been replaced by “The Fonz” as the focal point of the show, it might not have lasted as long as it did.
Now, what’s worse about it, is that the role was initially thought to be filled by Monkees drummer, Micky Dolenz. The latter actually read for the role and came close to snagging it, but he was eventually turned down. Luckily, Henry Winkler’s shorter stature made him more of a physical fit for the role of Arthur Fonzarelli because we certainly can’t imagine anyone else filling The Fonz’s shoes now!
Now that the Monkee's drummer was out of the picture, and Henry Winkler was the actor pushed for the role of “The Fonz,” things were expected to go on smoothly, but- Winkler could not even read six lines in his dialogue because he is dyslexic, and every written word kept jumbling in his mind.
Henry Winkler remained calm and resorted to using his own words to fill in instead. That way, he was able to convince the casting directors that he was giving them a real feel for the character. This impressed them, and they were coaxed into giving him a pivotal role that would last for 11 seasons.
Ron Howard Dodged The Draft
This may not be a side to Ron Howard that some would take positively. At a time when American soldiers and young men were drafted to the armed forces and sent out to join the war in Vietnam, Ron Howard found ways to dodge the draft.
He really wanted to become a director, so he went to USC to study film school. He was concerned about his low draft number and the likelihood of being called out to battle, so he applied for a job at Paramount. His position in such a big company lowered his chances of going to a war he didn’t believe in. He then took part in the pilot of Love, American Style, which would soon become Happy Days.
The Cast Members Are Still Close 'Til This Day
Perhaps one of the best legacies Happy Days left us with throughout the years are the relationships it fostered among its cast. The show wasn’t just about the good old days of the 50s, and its didactic effect on its viewers regarding life’s values. They walked the talk, so to speak.
By and large, the Happy Days cast themselves showed us what it means to be loyal to each other. They became very good friends outside the set, and beyond its airing. One example of this is Henry Winkler and Marion Ross. They have become such good friends that even up to this day Winkler sends Marion bunches of flowers for no reason other than to make her smile.
Henry Winkler Was Business Smart
Henry Winkler has proven himself to be a very good actor. How he turned around the fate of the Happy Days series was truly remarkable, to say the least. But he also showed how astute he can be when it comes to making financial decisions.
At the peak of the TV sitcom, with Winkler playing the lead role as the Fonz, he found himself in the perfect position to demand a much higher salary. However, he opted to go for a moderate pay in exchange for a percentage of the proceeds of the show’s syndication profits. From there, he was able to build his net worth which is now estimated to be around $35 million.
Viewers All Over The World
It’s been so long since the Happy Days series started and it has long since stopped producing new episodes. There have been other wildly successful shows to come after it, but somehow, it remains relevant to our lives up to this day. It is, in fact, one of the most syndicated shows of all-time.
Isn’t it incredible how Happy Days episodes are still broadcast after more than 30 years? Not only is it being syndicated in the United States, but also in 126 countries where its following continues to grow. For a show that hasn’t produced new episodes for more than three decades, It doesn’t seem to be slowing down at all.
A Joke at Chuck's Expense
If you paid attention to what American actor, Jim Carrey, said in the movie Cable Guy, you would have noticed he poked fun at a character in the Happy Days sitcom. There’s no reason to be offended about the reference though. In fact, it just provides an example of how it pays to be attentive when watching a movie to appreciate the humor!
Jim Carrey said he was the long-lost Chuck Cunningham, and you may remember how Richie’s brother disappeared from the series with no explanation at all. If you had were one of those viewers who wondered whatever happened to him, well, that’s the whole essence of Jim’s clever reference.
Some fans wonder why Milwaukee, Wisconsin was chosen as the show’s perceived location, and if it could have been any other place. The show’s storyline was focused on the lifestyle during the '50s in Midwestern United States, and the location happened to have that appeal. Producers felt that this would resonate with its viewers, too.
Director, Garry Marshall, also wanted the show to be as credible as possible, and knowing that Tom Miller, one of its producers, lived in Milwaukee and knew its ins and outs, they would have a kind of hometown advantage, so to speak.
A Missing Jacket
The Happy Days sitcom was modified to make its episodes cater to broad comedy. And like many other shows where the comedy isn’t limited to the fictional scenes alone, Happy Days did have its fair share of incidents and bloopers while at work.
While preparing to shoot a new scene, the production staff noticed that Arthur Fonzarelli’s iconic jacket was missing on the set. They couldn’t believe it could have stolen, but that seems to be the case. With the jacket nowhere to be found, they had to scramble to get a new one that would exactly look like the original. To match it, they had one specially made and this was what Fonzie wore when he jumped the shark.
The Shows College Jock
Although Chuck Cunningham, brother of Richie and Joanie Cunningham, may have been deemed a redundant character, it is worth revisiting the quirks of his role. Chuck was in college, and he was a basketball player, too, but the show’s producers wanted viewers to remember him for two particular things.
Before his short-lived character mysteriously disappeared from the show, Chuck Cunningham was spotlighted as the dumb sibling. Also, he was regularly shown on-screen eating or holding a sandwich, or, dribbling a basketball; some very vapid things to remember him by.
Erin Moran's One Day Substitute
Erin Moran’s role in the show as Joanie Cunningham certainly had challenges peculiar to the character. Joanie was a very nosy sister, and that meant she had to be energetic and feisty at the same time. Erin was as natural as you can get in portraying those qualities, but that role wasn’t exclusive to her. Well, for 24 hours anyway.
Joanie was originally played by another actress, but it did not take long for the producers of the show to realize that Erin was too perfect of a fit to pass up.
Ron Howard's Condition
It can be appealing to watch an actor age on film, especially if it involves the development of one’s wisdom, spiritual traits, and other characteristics of the sort. For some actors in long-running roles, the reverse is true and what’s highlighted are their decadence and physical deterioration, which can be attributed to many other things, dependent upon the audience’s various interpretations.
Ron Howard only wanted to play the role of Richie Cunningham for as long as his character would progress from high school to college as the years went on. He didn’t want to be frozen in time and didn’t want to be around for Richie’s adult years. The show’s producers agreed to this and kept their promise.
Henry Winkler Turned Down Grease
If you think Henry Winkler’s character, the Fonz, looks strikingly similar to Danny from Grease— that leather jacket, the fashion and hairstyle—you will be fascinated to discover that Winkler he was supposed to play that role, too. Come to think of it, his performance in Happy Days showed how much he fitted the persona.
Unfortunately, Winkler had to turn down the offer due to one fatal flaw in his abilities: he’s tone-deaf. This is where John Travolta auditioned and secured the job, and he did it exceedingly well. To this day, Henry Winkler’s children can’t believe he turned down the opportunity to play one of the most popular characters of all time. Can you imagine a tone-deaf Danny though? We’re kind of thankful he did the right thing and stepped aside!
The Show Made Libraries Cool
If you want to know how influential the Happy Days series was, here is an example of how Fonzie and Richie made booklovers out of their viewers. In one episode, the pair decide to go to the library. If you find it odd that the twosome would even bother to go to such a place, we share your suspicions.
They went to get a library card, but not to read books; in fact, it was far from an academic purpose. They just thought it a clever way to meet new girls, hoping to snag a date. A week following this episode, the national library enrollment was strangely up by a mountainous 500%!
Most Of The Cast Members Didn't Think Ahead
Happy Days is one of the most syndicated television series of all time. For so many decades, the show seems only to be expanding further, and now it is even accessible to more than a hundred countries. It has the making of a real classic, being one of the most beloved sitcoms in TV history.
It is natural to wonder just how much the show’s stars are earning from its syndications for Nick-at-Nite reruns. Aside from the forward-thinking Henry Winkler, the answer is none. Zero. This is because nobody else signed a deal to this effect. Why, isn’t Winkler just the picture of an astute businessman?
The Cast Loved Their Director
One of the things that made Happy Days such a successful show was the fact that its cast really enjoyed what they were doing. This wasn’t just because the script itself was enjoyable and promising, but because the director, Garry Marshall, made sure they were having a great experience of it at the same time. He even made a softball team comprised of the cast and crew, so everything they did wasn’t necessarily part of work. This is a big part of why they all became such good friends.
When Marshall died on July 19, 2016, the actors expressed their sorrows and condolences through social media. Henry Winkler tweeted, “Rest In Peace… Thank you for my professional life. Thank you for your loyalty, friendship and generosity.” and “Larger than life, funnier than most, wise and the definition of friend.” Ron Howard, who played Richie, also tweeted, “He was the greatest boss I’ve ever had. His guidance influenced the entire course of my life… and I am not alone in feeling that way about the impact of Garry’s wisdom on those who were a part of his universe.”
The Happy Days Cast
We are grateful for each day we live, for the experiences life affords us, the opportunities, and all the lessons we learn from it. But some days are not as great as the others, even for the cast of Happy Days. They were all sullen upon learning that Erin Moran’s body was found unresponsive. She spent too long living in hard times and sadly hadn’t been able to pull herself out in time to save her life.
Erin’s old Happy Days friends had tried to reach out, but their beloved Joanie had already become unpredictable, and too sick. She had been suffering from throat cancer, and wasn’t thoroughly informed of how much the disease had metastasized. Before she died, she and her husband had become homeless and penniless. Tragically, the once highly popular and sweet child actress died in pain and deep sorrow.
Scott Baio Gets in Trouble
When the untimely death of actress, Erin Moran, broke in the news, her old Happy Days beau, Scott Baio, was distressed during an interview with the WABC radio show. He looked so down, with glassy eyes, as vulnerable as his heart was open and honest.
Unfortunately, his honesty would be misunderstood. He found himself in the hot seat for saying, “I’m OK, a little shocked but not completely shocked that this happened. My thing is, I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, could never find what made her happy and content. For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die. I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive and you gotta take care of yourself.” What do you think? Were Scott’s words too critical, or were they harsh but fair?
More Trouble For Basio
Who knows what Scott Baio had in mind at the time of the interview regarding Erin Moran’s death. He was clearly both grieving and sympathetic; however, many felt his comments were uncalled for. This, especially after medical findings showed that Erin not only died of complications from stage 4 cancer but results cleared her of illegal substances, too.
Scott wouldn’t budge. He didn’t apologize either. He would go on with statements regarding the dangers of substance abuse, and it didn’t take long for Tony Moran, Erin’s brother, to come to her defense. He tweeted, “You and my lil sis had a very very brief fling. She dumped you. 2 reasons. 1. She told me that you were more like a lil' girl and not a man. 2. She told me that you were tiny…. I’d advise you to get on your knees and pray you never run into me.” Brutal.
The Happy Days TV sitcom was so successful that it spurred quite a number of spin-offs over the years. Its storyline was so rich that as the show went on, producers and directors would be filled with tons of ideas to inspire new stories for the public to enjoy.
None of them were ever as successful as the main Happy Days show, but Robin Williams greatly benefited from the acting opportunity. It was the start of a career that would make him known as one of the most talented comedians of all time. Among the spin-offs are Laverne & Shirley, Joanie Loves Chachi, Blanksky’s Beauties, Out of the Blue, and, of course, Mork & Mindy (the show that launched Robin Williams’ career).