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Happy Days

Happy Days

Category: Sitcom

Created By: Garry Marshall

Stars: Ron Howard (1974-1980)regular, (1981-1984)special guest appearances, Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Donny Most (1974-1981), Gavan O'Herlihy (1974-1975), Erin Moran (1974-1982, 1983-1984), Al Molinaro, Scott Baio (1974-1982, 1983-1984), Cathy Silvers (1980-1983), Ted McGinley(1981-1984), Ellen Travolta, Roz Kelly, Linda Purl, Pat Morita, Lynda Goodfriend, Billy Warlock, (1982-1983), Heather O' Rourke (1982), Crystal Bernard (1982-1983)

Opening Theme: Bill Haley & His Comets (1974-1975) Norman Gimble with Charlie Fox (1977-1983) Bobby Avron (1983-1984)

Ending Theme: Pratt and McClain (1974-1975) Norman Gimble with Charlie Fox (1975-1983) Bobby Avron (1983-1984)

Composers: John Beal, Frank Comstock, James Patrick Dunne, Dan Foliart, Charles Fox, Jack Hayes, Pete King

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 255

Original Run: January 15, 1974 to September 24, 1984

Happy Days is about a middle-class family, the Cunninghams of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Howard, the father, is a hardware store owner. Marion is his homemaker wife. The couple have teenage children, Richie and Joanie. Richie is optimistic and naive. Joanie is sweet but feisty. There is an older brother named Chuck. Oh yeah did I mention Richie is the famous movie producer Ron Howard. The earlier episodes revolve around Richie and his friend Potsie. Other characters who would have storylines are Fonzie, and Chachi (love interest for Joanie) among others. The spinoffs from Happy Days were Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Love Chachi.


Cunningham family

Howard (Mr. C) (Tom Bosley)- Husband, father and hardware store owner. Most often seen reading the daily newspaper in his easy chair.

Marion (Mrs. C) (Marion Ross) - Wife, mother and homemaker. She was the only character whom Fonzie allowed to call by his real first name, Arthur.

Richie (Ron Howard) - Son and high school student. The protagonist for the first six years of the series. The character was written out of the show, leaving to join the United States Army, after Ron Howard decided to leave the show to pursue his desired (and ultimately highly successful) career as a director, rather than an actor, although he returned to make guest appearances as Richie on several occasions. (1974-1980)

Joanie (Erin Moran) - Daughter

Chuck (Gavan O'Herlihy, Randolph Roberts) - Eldest son written out of series with no explanation.

Roger Phillips (Ted McGinley) - Marion's nephew and coach and teacher at Jefferson High. Introduced after Richie left the show (1980-1984) ((Ted McGinley can be seen in "Married with Children" (some of it), "Hope and Faith", and I believe some movies))

Flip Phillips (Billy Warlock) - Roger's brother. Seen only during 10th season.

KC (Crystal Bernard) - Howard's niece. Seen only during 10th season.


Arthur "Fonzie" / "the Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) - First written in as a minor character, but became a hugely popular breakout character and was made a series regular. The Fonz was a big fan of his “veggies” when he ate dinner at the Cunningham house. Many said this was an attempt by the show’s producers to get kids to eat their vegetables using the Fonz as an advocate.

In an episode filmed in the late 1970s, Fonzie obtains a library card and declares, “Reading is cool.” At one point, ABC pushed to change the name of the series to "Fonzie's Happy Days." The cast (including Henry Winkler) strongly opposed.Charles "Chachi" Arcola (Scott Baio) - Fonzie's younger cousin; he eventually married Joanie.

Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams) - Richie's friend.

Ralph Malph (Donny Most) - Richie's friend; left with Richie to join the army (1974-1980).

Matsumoto "Arnold" Takahashi (Pat Morita) - First owner of the drive-in (1975-1976). Returned after Al Molinaro departed (1982-1983).

Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro) - Drive-in owner/cook (1976-1982). Married Chachi's mother.

Click here for a great Happy Days video clip.

Marsha Simms (Beatrice Colen) - Carhop in first two seasons. Wendy (Misty Rowe) - Another carhop from Arnold's in the first two seasons.

Leather Tuscadero (Suzi Quatro) - Musician. Sister of Pinky Tuscadero.

Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) - Former girlfriend of Fonzie.

Jenny Piccolo (Cathy Silvers) - Joanie's best friend (1980-1983). Mentioned often in early episodes, but never appeared in person until the 1980 season. Jenny's father appeared in one episode, played by Silvers' real-life father Phil Silvers.

Lori Beth Allen Cunningham (Lynda Goodfriend) - Richie's girlfriend and later his wife (1977-1982).

Louisa Arcola (Ellen Travolta) - Mother of Chachi Arcola and Fonzie's aunt. Married Al Delvecchio.

Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein) - nerdy classmate of Joanie and Chachi.

Eugene Belvin (Denis Mandel) - twin brother of Melvin Belvin. Also a nerd.

Bobby (Harris Kal) - friend of Chachi and Joanie seen in episodes after Richie and Ralph left the show.

Ashley Pfister (Linda Purl) - Divorced mother who becomes Fonzie's steady girlfriend (1982-1983).

Heather Pfister (Heather O'Rourke) - Ashley Pfister's daughter (1982-1983).

Cast Stats

Another television dad, Harold Gould (of Rhoda), was cast as Howard Cunningham in the Love, American Style episode sub-titled "Love and the Happy Days".

Donny Most was originally cast to play Potsie Weber. The Ralph Malph character was added to the show after producers decided to cast Anson Williams as Potsie.

Marion Ross and Anson Williams are the only cast members who stayed with the show from its pilot, an episode of Love, American Style, to its conclusion. Not including the pilot, Henry Winkler and Tom Bosley are the only two actors to appear in every episode of the series.

The "Fonzie Effect"

The early Happy Days episodes were about Richie and teenage friends Ralph Malph and Warren "Potsie" Weber, dealing with typical adolescent woes in the 1950s and early/mid 1960s Milwaukee. The character Aurther "Fonzie" "The Fonz" Fonzarelli was becoming a fan favourite. He was supposed to a local high school dropout who was only occasionally seen. He got more an more time on screen and became a permanent cast memeber in the second season. Many episodes revolve around him. When the ABC management considered changing the name of the show to "Fonzie's Happy Days", the cast, including Fonzie player Henry Winkler, protested along with producer/creator Garry Marshall, and the show's title remained unchanged.  

Season 4

Scott Baio was added as Fonzie's cousin Chachi Arcola. Spike was supposed to be the character who became Chachi.

Al Molinaro was added as Al Delvecchio the new owner of Arnold's after Pat Morita's character of Arnold moved on (after his character got married; Pat Morita left the program to star in a short-lived sitcom of his own, Mr. T. and Tina). Al Molinaro also played Al's twin brother Father Anthony Delvecchio, a Catholic priest. Al eventually married Chachi's mother (played by Ellen Travolta) and Father Delvecchio served in the wedding of Joanie to Chachi in the series finale.

Season 8 Onward

Lynda Goodfriend joined the cast as semi-regular character Lori-Beth Allen, Richie's steady girlfriend, in season 5, and became a permanent member of the cast between Seasons 8 and 10, after Lori-Beth married Richie.

After Ron Howard (Richie) left the series, Ted McGinley joined the cast as Roger Phillips the new Physical Education teacher at Jefferson High and nephew to Howard and Marion. He took over from the departed Richie Cunningham character, acting as counterpoint to Fonzie. The real focus of the series was now on the Joanie and Chachi characters, and often finding ways to incorporate Fonzie into them as a shoulder to cry on, advice-giver, and savior as needed. The Potsie character who had already been spun off from the devious best friend of Richie to Ralph's best friend and confidante, held little grist for the writers in this new age, and was now most often used as the occasional "dumb" foil for punchlines (most often from Mr. C. or Fonzie).

Billy Warlock joined the cast in season 10 as Roger's brother Flip, along with Crystal Bernard as Howard's and Marion's niece K.C. They were intended as replacements for Erin Moran and Scott Baio (who departed for their own show, Joanie Loves Chachi). Both characters left with the return of Moran and Baio, following the cancellation of Joanie Loves Chachi.

Guest Stars

Tom Hanks appeared in an episode as a character seeking revenge on Fonzie for pushing him off a swing when the two of them were in the 3rd grade.

Tom Hanks was on an episode as a character seeking revenge on Fonzie for pushing him off a swing when the two of them were in the 3rd grade. The confrontation occurs just as Fonzie was about to be given a community leader award. Years later in 1987, Hanks asked Winkler to direct his comedy Turner and Hooch, but creative differences between the two stars led to Winkler being fired from the job.

Other people who starred on the show are Hank Aaron, Milwaukee Braves home-run king, Jack Dodson, and Lorne Greene.

"Jumping the Shark"

One of the most famous episodes was "Jumping the Shark". Fonzie does a water-ski jump over a shark. The phrase jumping the shark was later applied to popular culture phenomena in general.

Things that didn't help the show were the fire that destroyed the original Arnold's Drive-In and Ron Howard's leaving. Both these things happened after the shark jump.    

Theme Music

Seasons 1 and 2 of the series used a newly recorded version of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley & His Comets (recorded in the fall of 1971) as the opening theme song. 

The show's closing theme song in season 1 & 2 was "Happy Days," written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. 

From seasons 3-10, this replaced "Rock Around the Clock" at the beginning of the show. 

Happy Days

For the show's 11th and final season (1983-84), the theme was redone in a more modern style. Featuring Bobby Arvon on lead vocals, with several back-up vocalists, this version of the theme song is arguably not as popular with Happy Days fans as versions from the 3rd-10th seasons (among which there were several slightly different versions and edits). To accompany this new version, new opening credits were filmed, and the flashing "Happy Days" logo was reanimated to create an overall "new" feel that incorporated 1980s sensibilities with a still 1950s nostalgia (although the show was now supposedly taking place in 1965).

Happy Days Ratings

1973-1974: #16 1975-1976: #11 1976-1977:#1 1977-1978:#2 1978-1979:#4 1979-1980:#17 1980-1981:#15 1981-1982:#18 1982-1983:#28

Happy Days Spinoffs

Laverne & Shirley

Mork & Mindy

Joanie Love Chachi






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