The Cunningham family live through the 1950s with help and guidance from the lovable and almost superhuman greaser, Fonzie.


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Won 3 Golden Globes. Another 13 wins & 19 nominations. See more awards »
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Complete series cast summary:


Richie Cunningham and his friend Potsie face life at Jefferson High in Milwaukee Wisconsin in the 1950s. Lots of changes over time as kids come and go, new series spin off, Richie and pals go to college then the army. Even marriage. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


"Rock Around the Clock" and "Mona Lisa" were on the Hit Parade...Uncle Miltie was a household word...people held each other while dancing...the D.A. was a hairstyle...and everybody liked Ike. Those were the days of the 1950's...filled with innocence and the promise of even better days to come. (season 1)


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Parents Guide:





Release Date:

15 January 1974 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Cool  »

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(255 episodes)

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Did You Know?


Originally Fonzie had a younger cousin named Spike who would show up occasionally during the first few seasons. He was written out after the third season. See more »


In one episode set in 1962, the song "I Get Around" by The Beach Boys is heard playing on the jukebox. That song wasn't released until 1964. See more »


Charles 'Chachi' Arcola: Wa! Wa! Wa!
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Referenced in Man on the Moon (1999) See more »


Happy Days
(theme song)
Lyrics by Norman Gimbel
Music by Charles Fox
See more »

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User Reviews

Nothing to Do with the 1950's -- Pure Fantasy that Get's Sillier with Age
27 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

"Happy Days" was produced and broadcast from the mid-1970's to the early 1980's and seems to get more ridiculous with age. At the time of its broadcast, most viewers who grew up in the 1950's were in middle age with families, and the scenes at Mel's Diner probably brought an artificial nostalgia to them. The Fonz was of course the coolest of the cool (although the actor Henry Wrinkler to this day has never learned how to ride a motorcycle). Richie Cunningham was the all-American blond-haired kid who would probably be elected student body president. Potsie was Richie's best friend--the star of the show has to have a best friend, I guess. And Ralph Malph was the bumbling sidekick to the Fonz, if not the entire group. I loved it when the Fonz would beat up on poor Ralph Malph. And there was Mel, the middle-aged lug who ran Mel's Diner. And of course who could forget the appearance of Mork? Was this really the 1950's? Ironically, films produced during the 1950's, such as "Rebel Without a Cause" and "The Wild One" have gotten better with age and portray the period more honestly than this show which was produced 20 years after the period it portrays.

Unfortunately, the TV show "Happy Days" is not in the same league as "Rebel Without a Cause" or "American Graffitti" for that matter. "Happy Days" may have captured some aspects of the 1950's with its burger diner, juke boxes, cool cars, and tacky plaid shirts, but it is more a nostalgic idealism done strictly for laughs rather than an honest portrayal. "American Graffitti" had something to say about young Americans in the 1950's whereas "Happy Days" seemed more about what middle-aged people of the 1970's wished the 1950's had been like. The result was a kind of watered down fabrication that really has nothing to do with the 1950's. "Happy Days" is, at best, a comedy-fantasy with some of the artificial culture of the 1950's as its backdrop. As pointed out by another reviewer, the all-American kid Richie Cunningham would probably have been chastised for befriending the likes of a drop-out like Fonzie. And Mel would probably forbid Fonzie from entering his Diner.

A quick history: "Happy Days" was originally a pilot called "Love in the Happy Days" that was rejected for broadcast. Comedy pilots that had themes concerning sex and romance that did not make it to pilot airing sometimes appeared on the infrequently broadcast show "Love American Style" which was often aired in place of baseball games that had rained out or other unexpected programming cancellations and/or alterations. In short, "Love American Style" was a throw-away show that contained all these one-episode comedy pilots that never made it to a slotted debut. "Love in the Happy Days" did appear as a "Love American Style" show sometime in the early 1970's, but at the time TV executives could not foresee how a show about 1950's young people would be popular, particularly during the hey-day of comedy shows centering around middle-aged people, such as The "Mary Tyler Moore Show" (and its subsequent spin-offs such "Rhoda"), "The Bob Newhart Show", and "All in the Family". (How things have changed since now most TV sitcoms are about young people and the industry avoids most shows about middle-aged people like the plague!)

Subsequently, one of the young stars of "Love in the Happy Days", a child actor from "The Andy Griffith Show" named Ron Howard, got the chance to star in a film about young people taking place in 1959 called "American Graffitti" directed by the relatively unknown George Lucas whose previous "THX 1138" had bombed miserably at the box office. Even when it was premiered to movie executives, again the studios could not see how a movie about young people in the 1950's could become popular because it didn't "fit" with what had been popular in the past, although they didn't realize that much of the movie-going audience had been young in the 1950's. As everyone knows, the movie was a huge hit, and studio executives recognized that they had completely misjudged their audience. Somewhere during the theatrical run of "American Graffitti", TV executives realized they had a comedy pilot in their vault that was a lot like "American Graffitti". They brought it back with the original cast, plus Henry Wrinkler as "The Fonz", re-titled it "Happy Days" and the rest is TV history as it became one of the most popular shows of the 1970's.

"Happy Days" now seems ridiculous. The characters are flat and cardboard, never being more or less than what they superficially are. The issues they deal with are trivial. And their reactions appear mindless and even silly. Nowadays, the character of the Fonz seems to be a caricature of, well, The Fonz. Was the idea to be a kind of parody of Marlon Brando's character in "The Wild One"? Looking on the show with fresh eyes, I feel the producers really missed out on a great opportunity to present the 1950's with depth and realism that still could be fun and entertaining. Instead the producers decided on cheap laughs for quick bucks. This is definitely a show that has not withstood the test of time. "American Graffitti" has many of the outward appearances of "Happy Days" but it had an edge. It had an honesty about the characters and their issues. "Happy Days" took the look of "American Graffitti" but failed to take its heart.

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