Happy Days has gone down in history as one of the all-time classic sitcoms. The sweet Cunningham family in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, never ceases to warm your heart -- just like the Fonz can keep you laughing an entire episode. Isn't it crazy that the show almost didn't make it on the air?
That's right! After creator Garry Marshall made the pilot (which was initially called Love and the Television Set), ABC totally passed. But George Lucas (yep, the Star Wars guy) saw that pilot and loved how Ron Howard played Richie Cunningham, so he decided to cast him in American Graffiti, which went on to become the high school comedy of the '70s. So ABC decided to give this little show a shot. It took some time before the TV show found its sweet spot, mostly when they took that side character Fonzie and made him part of the main cast.
Not only did the show run for 11 seasons, but it was so successful that it had multiple spin-offs. Robin Williams guest starred as Mork, which went over so well, he got his own show, Mork & Mindy, also starring Pam Dawber. Laverne & Shirley was another spin-off that even starred Garry Marshall's sister, Penny Marshall. And let's not forget the short-lived Joanie Loves Chachi.
Here's an update on where the beloved Happy Days cast ended up after the show ended decades ago.
1. Ron Howard - Richie Cunningham
Ron Howard, who also starred as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show, focused on directing after Happy Days. He's directed family comedies like Splash (a classic Tom Hanks rom-com) and Parenthood, as well as Oscar contenders like Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind, which earned him an award for Best Director. He became an incredibly respected director and filmmaker in Hollywood, but none of it would have been possible if he hadn't become a household name as Richie Cunningham.
2. Anson Williams - Potsie
His role as Potsie earned Williams a Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Since then he's gone on to become a successful director in television. He's worked on Melrose Place, Beverly Hills 90210, Sabrina The Teenage Witch, Xena: Warrior Princess, Lizzie McGuire and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He still makes the occasional appearance in front of the camera, even guest-starring in an episode of Sabrina The Teenage Witch as his old character Potsie.
3. Marion Ross - Marion Cunningham
Ross received two Emmy nominations for her role as the matron of the Cunningham household and didn't stop acting after Happy Days wrapped. She appeared in The Love Boat, Brooklyn Bridge, Touched by an Angel and The Drew Carey Show. She also made the rounds playing the mean grandmother on television in Gilmore Girls as well as That 70's Show. Ross was also nominated for a Golden Globe for her role in the sequel to the Oscar-winning film Terms of Endearment, The Evening Star. Though she officially retired from acting in 2018, Ross will always be best remembered as Marion Cunningham.
4. Tom Bosley - Howard Cunningham
Before he was the head of the Cunningham household, Bosley spent time on the stage. He even won a Tony Award for Best Actor in 1960 for his role in Fiorello! After Happy Days, he played Sheriff Amos Tupper on Murder, She Wrote and as Father Frank Dowling on Father Dowling Mysteries. Bosley passed away from lung cancer in 2010.
5. Henry Winkler - Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli
Arthur Fonzarelli was affectionately known on the show and by fans as "The Fonz". Between the hair and the leather jacket, Winkler hit it big, turning a small side character into one of the central roles on the show. After Happy Days, Winkler dabbled in directing and producing, executive producing the Disney series, So Weird.
Winkler and Adam Sandler sparked up a friendship that resulted in Winkler's appearances in numerous Sandler films -- The Waterboy, Little Nicky and You Don't Mess with the Zohan. Winkler's career has continually been strong since the '90s. These days he's starring as an acting coach on the HBO show Barry, which earned him an Emmy in 2018.
6. Don Most - Ralph Malph
After Happy Days, Most continued making TV appearances in shows like CHiPs, Baywatch, The Love Boat, Sliders, Star Trek: Voyager, Diagnosis: Murder and Glee. An accomplished singer, he released a Christmas swing album in 2016, Swinging Down The Chimney Tonight. Most also toured around the country with "Donny Most Sings and Swings," where he performed popular songs from the '50s with his band.
7. Erin Moran - Joanie Cunningham
Moran is best known for her days playing Richie's sister on Happy Days as well as Chachi's love interest on their spin-off show. She continued booking TV gigs on shows like The Love Boat and Diagnosis: Murder and even appeared on Celebrity Fit Club. Sadly, she passed away from throat cancer in 2017.
8. Al Molinaro - Al Delvecchio
Who could forget the loveable owner of Arnold's? Al took it over from Pat Morino's character Mitsumo "Arnold" Takahashi in season 4. He also briefly left the show to appear on Joanie Loves Chachi. In the late '80s, Molinaro opened a chain of diners, Big Al's, with his co-star Anson Williams, but they sadly didn't pan out.
He kept acting though he declined film offers from Garry Marshall (who went on to be an incredibly successful comedic director after his TV career), appearing in the CBS sitcom The Family Man. But he decided to retire from acting in the early '90s, entirely moving over to commercials. Molinaro passed away in 2015 at the age of 96.
9. Scott Baio - Chachi Arcola
After his Chachi days, Baio continued to have a successful TV career. Was there any show he wasn't on? Full House, Touched by an Angel, the list goes on and on. He even had an arc on Arrested Development alongside Henry Winkler.
This article was originally published in May of 2020.
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