Happy Days has delighted viewers during its ten-year run and for many years after, winning over hearts and captivating fans since 1974. The show went on for quite a while, prompting an episode in which The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, to attempt and successfully jump over a shark while water skiing, all while wearing his signature leather jacket. The scene is criticized as a fatal attempt to regain buzz and viewership, popularizing the term “jumping the shark” in reference to television series that have run past their prime. Still, Happy Days was a sitcom success back in its day and even though the series ended in 1984, it would go on to be one of the longest-running television shows in syndication history.
Reliving Those Happy Days
Read on to relive your Happy Days memories, discover some fun facts about the show, and find out what these actors are up to now…
Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham
Happy Days was centered around Wisconsin teenager Richie Cunningham, who was played by Ron Howard. The likeable all-American teen, who sported red hair and a face full of freckles, was typically always trying to find a date and always tried to do right by his friends and family, which were common themes for the show’s episodes. Ron Howard was a television veteran even before Happy Days, starring as Opie Taylor, the adorable young son of Sheriff Andy Taylor on the 1960s sitcom The Andy Griffith Show. A television star since the young age of six, Howard would go on to become an entertainment household name.
Ron Howard Today
After Happy Days, Ron Howard would make his directorial debut with the 1977 low-budget film Grand Theft Auto. But it wasn’t until his 1982 film, Night Shift, that his directing career took off. He would go on to thrill audiences with films such as Apollo 13, Cinderella Man, The DaVinci Code, and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. The now-iconic director boasts two Oscars and a Golden Globe for his directorial work on the film A Beautiful Mind. In 1986, he co-founded Imagine Entertainment with producer Brian Grazer, producing films and shows such as Friday Night Lights, 8 Mile, and Arrested Development.
The Jukebox at Arnold’s
What is a 1950s-themed show without some popular 1950s musical hits? Unfortunately for producers, gaining clearance for popular 1950s tunes was a long and expensive process. They found a way around this by using one of their very own to provide the voice of music that came out of the iconic jukebox, which sat on the left of the bathrooms in the corner of Arnold’s Drive-In. Anson Williams, who played Potsie, provided the voice for the music, doling out ’50s hits such as “Hound Dog” and “Personality.” Everyone who came to Arnold’s enjoyed the jukebox, that is if they could get it to work without money. Who remembers The Fonz punching the jukebox to turn it on?
Henry Winkler as Fonzie
Speaking of The Fonz, Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli because by far the biggest Happy Days icon in the history of the show. The inexplicably cool dude won over the hearts of America with his classic catch phrases, ability to make things worth with the punch of his fist, and the way he attracted women with the snap of a finger. Despite his rebellious vibe, he had a heart of gold, always ensuring that his friends and family made the most of their lives. Fonzie was played by none other than Henry Winkler, whose first acting gig was an extra on a television game show, for which he received only ten dollars.
Henry Winkler Today
After the end of Happy Days, Winkler spent most of the 1980s forging a directing and producing, much like Happy Days co-star Ron Howard. He co-founded Winkler-Rich productions, which would later turn into Fair Dinkum Productions. Winkler returned to acting in the 1990s, first starring in a film called Absolute Strangers, in which his character was forced to decide whether or not to sustain the lives of his comatose wife and unborn child. Further diversifying his skill as an actor, he appeared in Water Boy at the request of Adam Sandler, whose subsequent movies he would be prominently featured in, in addition to other various films and television shows.
Tom Bosley as Howard Cunningham
The patriarch of the Cunningham family was Howard Cunningham, owner of Cunningham Hardware. Affectionately known as “Mr. C” among the other characters, he always put his family first and instilled traditional family values into his home. No other television dad could probably dole out a better lecture than Mr. C, who was played by actor Tom Bosley. Proving to be a formidable actor before becoming Howard Cunningham, Bosley boasts acting credits on Broadway and other various films and television shows such as Yours, Mine and Ours, Bonanza, Bewitched, and The Love Boat. Before he was an actor, he served in the United States Navy during World War II.
Tom Bosley Post-Happy Days
After Happy Days, Bosley continued acting, being featured on shows like Murder, She Wrote, Night Gallery, The Bastard, and The Rebels. His unique gravelly voice earned him a lot of voice acting roles on cartoons and documentaries. In more recent years, he starred in The Back-Up Plan and Santa Buddies, which would be his final movies. In 2011, Bosley’s estate and other fellow Happy Days castmates were involved in a lawsuit against CBS, saying that they were not properly paid royalties they were entitled to according to their contract. By 2012, both parties reached a settlement and CBS paid the each of the actors $65,000 and agreed to continue honoring their contract. By the time this lawsuit was claimed, Bosley had already passed away on October 19, 2010, just 18 days after his 83rd birthday.
Marion Ross as Marion Cunningham
Lovingly known as “Mrs. C,” Marion Cunningham was the matriarch of the Cunningham family. The classic homemaker of two would be one of only four characters to remain on the show throughout the entire series run. Audiences loved seeing Mrs. C rebel against her own nature, such as taking up waitressing at Arnold’s when she got tired of being at the house. Mrs. C, being the lovable and caring mother that she was, was the only character that got to call Fonzie by his first name, Arthur. The Happy Days mom was played by actress Marion Ross, who before joining the show had done acting work on films such as Forever Female, Sabrina, Lust For Life.
Marion Ross Today
After the lights went down on the set of Happy Days, Marion Ross continued to act in a number of other television shows, becoming a guest on The Drew Carey Show, Gilmore Girls, and That ’70s Show. In 1996 she starred in The Evening Star, which was a sequel to Terms of Endearment. The film was not well received, although Ross was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress for her role. She also ventured into voice-over work, lending her voice to cartoons such as King of the Hill, Spongebob Squarepants, The Wild Thornberrys, and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness.
Happy Days Spin-Offs
While Happy Days is a spin-off show itself (from the early 1970s comedy Love, American Style), it also sprouted a number of other spin-offs after the show’s end. These spin-off’s included Laverne & Shirley, Blansky’s Beauties, Mork & Mindy, Out of the Blue, Joanie Loves Chachi, and the animated series The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Laverne & Shirley with Special Guest Star The Fonz. Two of the most popular spin-offs are Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. Mork & Mindy even helped launch the comedic career of legendary actor Robin Williams, after he first appeared in Happy Days in a dream that Richie was having.
Erin Moran as Joanie Cunningham
Joanie Cunningham was the infamously nosey little sister of Richie Cunningham. Often getting in trouble and being sent to her room by her parents, she would often go out of her way to do things that would make her seem “cool,” such as joining a motorcycle gang and starting to smoke. Luckily, The Fonz was always there to set her straight, affectionately nicknaming her “shortcake.” Joanie would even go on to appear in her own series, Joanie Loves Chachi, but returned to Happy Days for the season finale. Joanie was played by actress Erin Moran, who already had a few television and film credits under her belt before she joined the cast of Happy Days.
Erin Moran Today
After the cancellation of both Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi, Moran would make a few guest appearances on The Love Boat, Murder, She Wrote, and Diagnosis: Murder. In 2008, she was a contestant on Celebrity Fit Club, which she admitted she was only doing for the money. She became a topic of public criticism throughout her post-Happy Days years. In 1992, she allegedly publicly attacked her former Happy Days castmates, even claiming that she was sexually harassed by Henry Winkler. A few years later, she retracted her claims and Winkler forgave her. He even wished the best for her when word got out that Moran was homeless after her house went into foreclosure. Sadly, Moran passed away from stage 4 cancer on April 22, 2017.
What Is the Fonz without His Leather Jacket?
The Fonz’s leather jacket is probably what makes him so iconic today. However, he didn’t always don the leather jacket. ABC executives thought a leather jacket would make him seem like a hoodlum, so they outfitted him with a windbreaker instead. Fonzie never proved himself to be any kind of hoodlum but still managed to transition into the leather jacket after producer Garry Marshall convinced the executives that the leather jacket was a smarter choice for motorcycle-riding wear. It’s a good thing they made the switch too, because Fonzie probably would not have had the impact that he did on the show without it.
Scott Baio as Charles “Chachi” Arcola
Charles “Chachi” Arcola was Fonzie’s little cousin whose traits were very similar to Fonzie. The two were very close, Fonzie often acting as an older brother figure to Chachi. In season five, Chachi had an instant crush on Joanie Cunningham, who at first thought of him as a little kid. But as the Happy Days gang grew older, Joanie started to find him attractive and they would eventually start a relationship. Chachi was played by Scott Baio, who was considered a teen heartthrob at the time for his charm on the show. Scott Baio joined the cast of Happy Days at only 16 years old.
Scott Baio Today
Baio was quite a successful actor since his regular role on Happy Days. While on the show, he earned two Emmy nominations for his performances on the made-for-television movies Stoned and All the Kids Do It. Following his role on Happy Days, Baio would go on to star in Charles in Charge from 1984 to 1990. He would also guest star on many other television series, such as Full House, Touched by an Angel, Veronica’s Closet, and The Nanny. He even guest starred on Arrested Development, which was created by former co-star Ron Howard and frequently guest featured Henry Winkler.
Happy Days in the 1920s?
Garry Marshall created Happy Days to depict an idealized version of life from the 1950s to the 1960s. Little do people know, Marshall was originally approached to write a show about the 1920s or the 1930s. Claiming that he knew nothing of flappers or anything else from that era, the pilot for that show ultimately failed. Instead, Marshall offered to write about something he knew, choosing to create a show that took place in the 1950s, which is an era that he actually grew up in. Marshall sure knew his stuff, because Happy Days took off and eventually became a phenomenal success.
Anson Williams as Warren “Potsie” Weber
Warren “Potsie” Weber was Richie Cunningham’s best friend and an aspiring singer. He appears to be more aware in earlier seasons, but when his character would get paired with Ralph Malph for various plot lines, Potsie soon evolved into a lovable dimwit. Potsie made few appearances after Ralph and Richie joined the military on the show, but is still mentioned on the show from time to time. Potsie was played by actor Anson Williams. Williams first made an appearance as Potsie on a segment of Love, American Style, titled “Love and the Happy Days,” from which the Happy Days series spun off.
Anson Williams Today
After his life as Potsie on Happy Days, Williams followed the path of Ron Howard and turned to directing. He became a prolific television director, working on a plethora of successful shows: Beverly Hills, 90210, Melrose Place, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Lizzie McGuire, and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He would often reprise his role as Potsie on other shows like Boy Meets World and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and would later appear at Happy Days reunion specials. In addition to directing, he became a successful businessman and is the author of Singing to a Bulldog: From Happy Days to Hollywood Director, and the Unlikely Mentor Who Got Me There.
Well That’s Cool..
When Happy Days was still in the production phase, creators originally wanted the series to be called “Cool.” It would make sense, considering one of the show’s star characters, The Fonz, who was the epitome of coolness. However, when test audiences viewed the show under the name “Cool,” they told producers that the name of the show was reminiscent of cigarettes, which is not what producers wanted to go for. Producer Carl Kleinschmitt then suggested, “How about calling it ‘Happy Days?’ That’s what we’re going to show.” In addition to that, the show spun off a segment on Love, American Style, titled “Love and the Happy Days.”