Sunday, Monday Happy Days, Tuesday Wednesday, Happy Days…Ready to race to you! Sound familiar? It is the very famous theme song written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox for Happy Days! Happy Days was definitely one of the most iconic sitcoms in history. Its creator, Garry Marshall, wanted to show the ideal family life of Midwestern Americans in the ‘50s and ‘60s. America was going through huge changes at this time. Interstate highways were being built, homes each had their own televisions for the first time, and music was getting more and more popular. Families were becoming increasingly connected to each other, and popular culture was becoming more mainstream. The older generation fought back against some of these changes, but ultimately this era changed America forever.
Happy Days first was on the air in 1974 and lasted until September 25, 1984. It finished with 255 half-hour episodes over 11 seasons. It was one of the most popular and highest rated shows of its time. It centers on the Cunningham family. It starred Ron Howard as the innocent teenager Richie Cunningham. He had a very popular and cool best friend, “The Fonz,” played by Henry Winkler. He was a biker who always was a hit with the ladies. The show propelled the entire cast to stardom as it was the number-one program from 1976-1977. Fonzie became the most merchandised character of the decade! Everyone wanted to be as cool as him. The show was so popular it inspired a number of spin-offs including Laverne and Shirley and Mork and Mindy.
So, has it been awhile since you thought about the cast of Happy Days? Want to know what they did after the show? We did the research for you, so take a look at what your favorite Happy Days stars are doing now or did before they passed on.
Tom Bosley played Richie’s father, Howard Cunningham on the show. Only he and Fonzie starred in all 255 episodes! Pretty amazing, right? After the series ended, he played Frank Dowling on Father Dowling Mysteries and acted in many other TV shows. His role on Happy Days was his most memorable role. He unfortunately died in 2010 from lung disease.
Richie Cunningham was the original star of the show. Ron Howard played his character for the first 7 seasons but quit once Fonzie became the lead. Part of this decision was due to fans liking Fonzie more than Richie. We love both of them! Ron continued his career directing and acting after he left the show. He earned an Academy Award for Best Director for the film A Beautiful Mind.
Richie’s best friend on the show is Warren “Potsie” Weber. The character is played by Anson Williams and he was well known for being a great singer. These days Anson is a director and has a number of very successful shows under his directing belt. Some include Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Marion Ross played Marion Cunningham, Richie’s mother in Happy Days. She very much played a stereotypical ’50s mother. After the show ended she continued to pursue acting and recently made an appearance in a couple episodes of Two and a Half Men.
“I still got it!” This was Don Most’s characters very popular catchphrase. It was actually a comedic moment because his character often failed at making people laugh. After the show, Don continued to act but only took minor roles in other shows. He even made an appearance in Glee!
Joanie Cunningham is Richie’s little sister. She appears in all 11 seasons of the show. Her character inspired a spin-off series called Joanie Loves Chachi. After these shows, she continued to act until her death on April 22, 2017. The cause of death is still unknown.
Al Molinaro was Al Delvecchio on the show. He owned Arnold’s Diner which was the setting of many important moments on the show. He did not continue to act after Happy Days was over. He died at age 96 in 2015.
Pat Morita played Matsuo “Arnold” Takashi on Happy Days. He only had a few appearances on the show but it prompted him to become one of the most famous Asian American actors of all time. He went on to play Mr. Miyahi in the Karate Kid’s movies for example. He died in 2005 of kidney failure.
Morita and the Accent
Pat Morita was supposed to portray a Japanese restauranteur but was really from California. He didn’t have any special accent normally so producers decided to make some changes to his character’s background to make it more believable. He was then changed to be half Chinese and half Japanese.
Scott Baio’s character appeared in Happy Days and in the spin-off Joanie Loves Chachi. He’s cousins with the Fonzi. Initially, his character was only supposed to have a small role, but he was so loved by fans he became a regular cast member. After the show, he continued to act. He recently made some controversial political comments and has been under fire from the media because of it.
Lori Beth Cunningham was Lynda Goodfriend’s biggest role in her career. She went back and forth from being included in the main cast. After Happy Days ended, she had some small roles and now she is working as a talent manager.
Cathy Silvers played Jenny Piccalo. She was in the main cast only for the first season. She went on to become an acting and life coach.
Fun Fact: ABC Feared The Fonz’s Look
The picture seen below is from a film entitled Lord’s of Flatbush. Henry Winkler wanted his character to be as close to Stallone’s as possible. Everything from his hair, to his wardrobe to his voice was supposed to be perfect. We think it worked because he became a defining TV character of his generation. ABC executives actually hated his look. They thought he looked like a thug especially with his leather jacket. In the first few episodes, he is wearing a different jacket and this is why. Pretty interesting!
Theodore “Ted” McGinley played Roger Phillips. The studio wanted to fill a place that was open when Richie Cunningham left. He continued to act after the series was over.
Linda Purl still is beautiful and played two roles in Happy Days. She was Richie’s girlfriend in season 2, and then portrayed Fonzie’s longtime girlfriend, Ashley, in season 10. Since the show ended she focused on jazz music. She has released several albums. Good for her!
Troubles In Relationship
Some of the on-screen couples on Happy Days got a lot of press coverage because they seemed so real! One example is Pinky Tuscadaro and Fonzie. Despite this, behind the scenes, the actress that played Pinky, Roz Kelly, didn’t get along with Winkley. She only appeared in three episodes of the show.
Suzi Quattro was a glam rock singer who made some guest appearances on the show. She is still a mega-star and has sold over 50 million albums! She is still recording music and touring.
Richie and Joanie had an older brother in the first two seasons. His name was Chuck and he was played by the actor Gavan O’herlihy. He stopped appearing in the show because Fonzie was the fan favorite and the audience never really took to Chuck.
Fun Fact: John Lennon Was A Fan
One interesting fact is that John Lennon was a huge fan of the show! He even brought his son Julian on the set to meet the cast.
The Cunningham’s residence in the show is a very suburban household that was supposed to be located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Really, the show was filmed in sunny California and with the help of three cameras, it appeared to look like Wisconsin.
Ron Howard was known for his role on The Andy Griffith Show. He then was on Happy Days and went on to direct major films. If he wasn’t in the entertainment business, he would have been a soldier in Vietnam! He got an occupational deferment.
Many of the characters and names in the show were inspired from Marshall’s private life. Richie Cunningham was the name of a boy that attended the same church for example.
Fun Fact: Not So Cool
The show’s name, Happy Days, is one of the most memorable comedy show titles of all time, but it wasn’t always called that. It was originally going to be called Cool but the test audiences didn’t like it.
Theme Song Owning the Charts
Bill Haley’s Rock Around The Clock was so popular it spent 8 weeks on the top of the Billboard charts back in 1955. He did new renditions for season 2 and 3 of the show. Charles Fox and Norman Gimble composed the version on seasons 4 and on.
The Time Frame
The initial era producers wanted the show to portray was the ’20s and ’30s. After some filming, it was pretty evident the only suitable time frame was in the ’50s. The family purchases a television set for example. This could only happen in the ’50s!
Happy Days Before Graffiti
Happy Days is known for bringing people back to the ’50s. The movie American Graffiti had the same nostalgic effect on fans. Many believe Happy Days-inspired the movie because of its success.
The show was so popular it even had an animated version! It is called Fonzie and the Happy Days Gang. It was on from 1980-1982 and had mild success.
Fun Fact: Budget Beating
One thing that ran the show’s budget up was paying for music licenses. Part of this is the jukebox that is ever-present on the show. Producers decided to get Anson Williams (Potsie) to sing instead to save some costs.
Henry Winkler suffered from dyslexia since he was a child. On the set, he had to find unique ways to learn his lines. He often had others read his script aloud so he could memorize his lines. He was officially diagnosed when he was 31 and actually became an accomplished writer after getting proper treatment.
Fonzie = Monkee?
Marshall’s first choice for Fonzie’s role was the former Monkees drummer, Micky Dolenz. He ended up being a bit too tall in Marshall’s opinion so the role went to Henry Winkler.
Robbie Benson was considered by producers for the role of Richie Cunningham. He was already an established actor, singer, and director. He failed miserably in his audition and it was then given to Howard.
Arthur “The Fonz”/”Fonzie” Fonzarelli ended up being the superstar of Happy Days. He was originally supposed to be a drop in character but because he was so popular with audiences he eventually became the lead. This was Henry Winkler’s biggest and most popular role ever! After the show ended he continued to act and recently appeared in Parks and Recreation.
Roz Kelly played Carol “Pinky” Tuscadero on Happy Days. She often wore pink and appeared as Fonzie’s long-term girlfriend. Her character was eventually dropped, but she went on to appear in a number of television shows including Happy Days spin-offs. Over the years she experienced some legal trouble. Back in 2000, she was sentenced to jail for hitting a man with her cane. She is currently 74 and living in Mount Vernon.
Heather O’Rourke played Heather Pfister on Happy Days. She went on to star in the 1982 film Poltergeist. She sadly died at age of 12 cardiac arrest and septic shock caused by a misdiagnosed intestinal stenosis.
Robin Williams’ Big Break
Robin Williams got a huge break appearing as Mork on Happy Days. He beat out a number of other comedians and actors for the role. Many don’t know this but it was his first television appearance. He was then discovered by Marshall’s sister.
Robin Williams was cast as Mork and much of the character was improvised. Mork was big into physical comedy and his character was so popular it led to the spin-ff show Mork and Mindy. It ran from 1978 to 1982. The show had a weekly audience of over 60 million, and turned Robin Williams into a total superstar! Robin Williams went on to have a very successful film and stand-up comedy career. He sadly took his own life in 2014.
Crystal Bernard got her big break playing K.C. Cunningham during season 10 of the show. She made some other guest appearances in later episodes. She decided to continue on her music and theatre career after the show. She has released 2 albums and most recently appeared in Barbra’s Wedding in 2005.
Born in California, Billy Warlock is the son of a successful Hollywood stunt man. In 1979, Billy’s father got him a stunt job as Robin Williams’s stunt double in a Mork & Mindy episode. Several months later, he auditioned for Happy Days and got his first major television role as Flip in the tenth season of Happy Days. He went on to star in many soap operas including Days of Our Lives and General Hospital. He is currently married to fellow soap star, Julie Pinson.
Ed Peck did not have a long-lived acting career. Actually, Happy Days was his first and last time playing a reoccurring character. He played Kirk, the police officer form 1975 to 1983. He then retired from acting. Later in his life, he got married to Phillis Houston in New York. He died at age 75 in Los Angeles.
Lorrie played Postsie’s girlfriend, Jennifer. The two were actually married in real life! She married Anson Williams in 1978, but they divorced in 1986. They have one daughter together.
Kit McDonough was born on August 13, 1949, in Los Angeles. She had a small role on Happy Days, and really got her big break when she acted in Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey (1993). She went on to play roles in I Am Sam (2001) and American Heart (1992). All great movies!
Warren Berlinger played different characters over his 7 guest appearances on the show. His most notable role was as Sergeant Betcheler. He also guest starred on Laverne & Shirley as Mr. Henshaw. He officially retired from acting in 2010, but before then he appeared on the TV series A Touch of Grace, and films including The Long Goodbye (1973), The Magician of Lublin (1979), The Cannonball Run (1981), The World According to Garp (1982), Ten Little Indians (1989), Hero (1992) and That Thing You Do! (1996).
Gary Marshall created and directed Happy Days and its spin-offs. He is incredibly talented! He personally discovered a number of the actors on these shows who went on to have huge careers. He died at age 81 in July of 2016.
Darrel played “Joanie’s Weird Boyfriend,” named Leroy on Happy Days. He took some smaller roles after the show and even created his own TV series, “Archie,” where he was the star. Since then he decided to commit his life to teaching youngsters how to act for film and stage. We support the cause!
Ellen Travolta is best known for her role as Louisa Arcola Delvecchio, the aunt of Fonzie, on Happy Days. She went on to play a number of roles mostly in television. She has been longtime supporter of the Coeur d’Alene Summer Theatre and has appeared in a number of their productions. She married James Fridley in 1964, they have two children together, but they separated in 1977. She was married to Jack Bannon until his death in 2017.
Kathleen Marshall is the daughter of Gary Marshall, the shows creator, and director. She played Kathi Marshall on the show from 1974-1981. She is still acting and accepting small roles in films. Most recently she made a cameo in the film New Year’s Eve which came out in 2011.
Cindy Williams joined the cast in 1975 as Shirley Feeney alongside her best friend and roommate, Penny Marshall (Laverne). They played female friends of Fonzie. They were so popular with audiences, Gary Marshall decided to give the two women their own spin-off. Laverne and Shirley was very successful and the show was on the air from 1976 until 1982.
Penny Marshall played Laverne, Shirley’s best friend and friend of Fonzie. The spin-off Laverne and Shirley was very successful. She went on to direct and produce a number of very famous films
including A League Of Their Own.
Mandel played Eugene Belvin from 1980-1982 on Happy Days. He went on to act in the TV shows Knots Landing, and Brush with Death. He retired from acting and is currently living in L.A.
Laurette Spang played Arlene Holder on Happy Days. She was spotted by a Universal Studios talent agent, resulting in her signing a 7-year contract in 1972. She appeared in many television series including Charlie’s Angels, The Diz Million Dollar Man and Lou Grant. Later in her career, she appeared in Fantasy Island and The Dukes of Hazzard. She mostly retired from acting in 1984 but had made some small appearances since then. She married actor John McCook in 1980 and together they have three children.
Misty Rowe portrayed Wendy in early episodes of Happy Days. She went on to appear in many TV series and movies. She portrayed Marilyn Monroe twice in different movies. Interesting! She has been married twice and is currently single. She has one daughter from her first marriage who was born in 1992.
Harris Kal played Bobby on Happy Days. He went on to star in The Pit (1981), The Babe (1992) and Simon & Simon (1981).