After the show became successful, Garry Marshall was approached and asked if the show could do anything that would help convince kids to read. In one episode, the Fonz decided that he would go to the library and check out a book, despite his reputation. (Said the Fonz, "Everybody is allowed to read.") That week, registration for library cards went up 500 percent.
Many fans agree that the show's quality deteriorated after the three-part season 5 opener, "Hollywood", where Fonzie jumps a shark while water-skiing. Today, when a show takes a sharp drop in quality, has strayed from its original premise beyond the point of no return, or has writers insert desperate attempts for ratings, it's said to have "jumped the shark".
In one episode the Cunninghams are coming out of a theater playing The Music Man (1962) when Mrs. Cunningham comments that the little boy in the movie looks just like Richie (Ron Howard) when he was little. Mr. Cunningham replies that she's being silly and that the boy in the film looks nothing like Richie. In fact, Howard did indeed play the little boy, Winthrop Paroo, in the film, when he was eight years old.
At the height of the show's popularity, a call came through to Paramount Studios, from a teen-aged boy who was contemplating suicide, and "wanted to talk to Fonzie". Henry Winkler took the call, and gave the boy a pep-talk about life, convincing him to give it another chance.
As the Fonz's character became more popular, network executives insisted that he had to be seen combing his hair, to show his respectability. Henry Winkler argued against doing this, saying it would make the Fonz look like an ordinary hoodlum. On the spur of the moment, Winkler made up the gag where the Fonz goes to comb his hair, looks in the mirror, and shrugs as if to say, "Ayyy, my hair's perfect. I don't need to comb it!" The gag got a big laugh from the studio audience, and became a Fonzie trademark. Later in the series, Fonzie showed Richie his comb and said, "Do you know I have had this comb for nine years, and it has never once touched my hair."
Originally there were three Cunningham children. The eldest, Chuck, was phased out of the show (supposedly, he went off to college on a basketball scholarship), because according to Garry Marshall, "we realized that Fonzie was really the 'big brother' character the show needed". In the final episode, Howard comments that he's proud of his "two kids".
Henry Winkler has said that he based some of Fonzie's movements and speech pattern on Sylvester Stallone. Winkler had worked with Stallone years earlier in The Lords of Flatbush (1974). Winkler vowed when he played Fonzie, he would never comb his hair on camera or have a pack of cigarettes rolled up in his T-shirt sleeve and he never did.
ABC at first feared Fonzie would be perceived as a hoodlum or criminal, and prohibited his wearing a leather jacket. In the first few episodes Henry Winkler wears a non-threatening gray windbreaker. The original windbreaker resembles the jacket wore by James Dean, the Fonz's idol, in Rebel Without a Cause. The leather jacket was introduced later and helped to make Fonzie a TV icon.
Richie and Joanie originally had an older brother, Chuck, who vanished without explanation. Now when a character is dropped from a series with no explanation given, it is known as "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome."
Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli's character was originally to be named Arthur Maschiarelli (creator Garry Marshall's real last name) and nicknamed "Mash." When ABC first picked up the show, they had Marshall change the character's name because they felt that "Mash" might remind people of M*A*S*H (1972)'s, a popular show on a rival network television station.
Pat Morita's character is called Arnold, but in one episode he reveals that the restaurant was named Arnold's when he bought it, and he couldn't afford to replace the sign. His real name is Mitsumo Takahashi.
Its ratings were so low at the end of its first season that it came close to being cancelled. Then Henry Winkler's "Fonzie" character started to catch on with viewers, the ratings took a turn for the better, and the show wound up running ten years.
Micky Dolenz of The Monkees auditioned for the role of Fonzie. However, at 6' he was considerably taller than the other main cast members, and the producers decided that the Fonzie character should be more at an eye level with his peers. A search for a shorter actor resulted in Henry Winkler's hiring. (Dolenz later praised Winkler's portrayal, in his autobiography.)
A bronze statue of the Fonz was unveiled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Tuesday, August 19th, 2008. The statue is located along the Milwaukee River riverwalk, at the south end of the Rock Bottom Brewery's outdoor seating area. Actors Henry Winkler, Marion Ross, Tom Bosley, Erin Moran, Don Most, Anson Williams, Penny Marshall, and Cindy Williams attended, as did director/producer Garry Marshall and producer Robert L. Boyett. The event included an autograph signing with proceeds to benefit the Boys & Girls Club Literacy Program, a performance by Joey Sorge, the Fonz in the "Happy Days" stage musical, a parade of stars down Wisconsin Avenue, and a ceremony at the Brewers Miller Park in which the cast threw out the first pitch and Anson Williams sang the national anthem.
Happy Days (1974) was so popular that "Rock Around the Clock" went back on the pop charts 19 years after its original release. The song, by Bill Haley and the Comets was #1 in 1955, and reached #39 in 1974.
Ron Howard at first passed on playing Richie, because he didn't want to "be a teenager the rest of my life" on television. He reconsidered when Garry Marshall promised him if the series were picked up, Richie and his friends would graduate high school and become adults. Even Fonzie went back to night school, to graduate with the gang.
The Fonz became so popular that after the first few seasons the network wanted to rename the show "Fonzie's Happy Days" or just "Fonzie." Threatened resignations by Garry Marshall and Ron Howard ended this idea.
During his first appearance, Mork is looking at television and the show he is looking at is The Andy Griffith Show (1960), which featured Ron Howard. He even makes a comment to that he really liked the show especially Opie, who was played by Howard.
In the first episode of the series, "Arnold's" was identified as "Arthur's" (different name on the logo, but with the same rotating, stylized initial "A" above the name). The restaurant and teen hangout became "Arnold's" as of the second episode.
The house used for the exterior shots of the "Cunningham" home in the opening sequence, as well as various points throughout the show's run, is located at 565 N Cahuenga Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90004. It was located only 2.1 miles (3.4Km) from where Sandra (Rachel Ticotin) and Detective Prendergast (Robert Duvall) have lunch in Falling Down (1993).
Bill Haley and the Comets' classic "Rock Around The Clock" served as the theme song for season one's sixteen episodes of the show. For the first series episode the original 1955 recording was used, but for the remaining shows' opening credits of season one the band recorded a special version of their most popular song.
Gary Marshall admits that when he envisioned Fonzie he was thinking of "someone who is cut" like Sylvester Stallone or Perry King, not physically someone like Henry Winkler, i.e. short and Jewish. But he said Winkler nailed it in the audition, he had the attitude of Fonzie down, if not the look, so he got the part. Ironically Winkler admits he was channeling Sylvester Stallone when he auditioned for Fonzie. (He met Stallone when they worked on Lords of Flatbush together .)
It's a common belief that George Lucas' American Graffiti (1973) was the inspiration for this series. In actuality, the pilot for the series (seen on Love, American Style (1969)) aired before Lucas began production on his film. However, the success of that movie caused producer Garry Marshall to reconsider his failed pilot and turn it into a series.
Pinky and her TV sister Leather's name Tuscadero was taken from the real-life town of Atascadero, in California. Leather was played by singer/bass guitarist Suzi Quatro, who'd achieved pop stardom in England and wanted to bring her career back to America.
Pat Morita who played Arnold signed his contract pick-up option to continue for another 2 or 3 seasons, however soon after signing he was offered his own TV series and was allowed to leave Happy Days. The 1976 TV series that developed was "Mr. T and Tina" which aired only 5 episodes (another 5 episodes were never aired).
Roz Kelly, who appeared as Pinky Tuscadero, a love interest for Fonzie in the Season 4 three-part premiere "Fonzie Loves Pinky", was slated to become a recurring character, but it never came to fruition.
In the first few episodes with Fonzie, he could only wear his leather jacket if he was on or near his motorcycle. The producers felt it would tone down the hoodlum image since it would appear he was wearing it for safety reasons.
When the show first started it centered primarily on Richie and Potsie (as did the "Love American Style" episode of which "Happy Days" as based). Fonzie would make appearances (usually helping them out of trouble); as would Ralph, who was sort of a jerk character (neither Henry Winkler or Don Most appeared in the beginning credits of season one). In seasons to come, Ralph would become good friends with Richie and Potsie (equal with Potsie), and Fonzie's character would step up to be equal - and then later to overshadow - Richie's character.
Robby Benson and Don Most were both considered for the role of Richie Cunningham. (The two also appeared together in a commercial for Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.) The character of Ralph Malph was created for Most.
Due to playing Happy Days character "The Fonz " and being so popular, Henry Winkler was poached to play Danny in the movie Grease in 1978. After considering it for a couple of weeks, he then turned the idea down saying John Travolta would play the part better and "had them special eyes to woo the lady audience".
Henry Winkler and Anson Williams are the only cast members to appear in every incarnation of the cast group shot that ends freeze frame on the opening credits with Henry Winkler always giving the Fonz's trademark thumbs up.
Ron Howard said he would not appear in a show called "Fonzie's Happy Days" when the producers presented him with that option. But he did lend his voice to an animated spinoff called "Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" which ran from 1980 until 1982, as did Donny Most and Henry Winkler.
Suzi Quatro was a major rock star when she played Leather Tuscadero on Happy Days, the first female bass player to score several hits on Billboard's Hot 100 List, including "Devil Gate Drive" which she performed on the show with Erin Moran/Joanie playing backup singer as one of her " Suedes."
The house used for the exterior shots of the "Cunningham" home in the opening sequence, as well as various points throughout the show's run looked nothing like the interior of the set. For one, the garage was to the right of the front door but the set had a window where the garage should be, the garage was located next to the kitchen door which meant the garage's driveway wasn't in front of the house at all. Fonzie lived over the garage and there was a set of stairs that led up to his apartment
Originally started out being filmed with a laugh track and a single camera. Three episodes from the 1974-1975 season were later filmed before a studio audience with three cameras as an experiment. Beginning with the 1975-1976 season, the series switched full time to the three-camera, live studio audience format. The long familiar living room set arrangement used throughout most of the series' run made its debut at the beginning of the 1975-1976 season.
Henry Winkler was originally in the running to play Danny in the film version of Grease . Grease producer Robert Stigwood was considering him about the same time he was considering Marie Osmond for Sandy. Both actors eventually turned down the roles though.
Even though this wasn't a science fiction show there were a handful of sci fi themed episodes. Three of them were with Mork from Ork, who was villainous in the first episode, not friendly. And there was an episode where Fonzie battles the nephew of the Devil.
Melvin is a stock name for nerds on the show. In addition to Melvin Belvin, and the episode where Fonzie assumes the name Melvin to infiltrate the She-Devils, there's also Melvin Scratch, the Devil's nerdy nephew who battles Fonzie and who takes possession of Chachi's soul.
Henry Winkler plays Principal Himbry in Scream (1996), the mean principal who gets eviscerated by Ghostface about halfway through the movie. In an obvious reference to Happy Days he stops and does a Fonzie double take in the mirror, checking his hair.
It was originally intended that Potsie would be Richie's best friend, showing him the ropes of young adulthood. The viewer response to Fonzie was so strong, though, that the writers' focus shifted, and Fonzie took Potsie's place.
In 1982 Tom Hanks would appear in Gary Marshall's "Happy Days " episode ( "A Little Case of Revenge."). Five years later he would appear in Penny Marshall's "Big". And five years after that he would appear in Penny Marshall's " A League of Their Own."
The character Bosley from Charlie's Angels (which was on 1976-1981, roughly the same period of time as Happy Days, and the same network, ABC), was named after Tom Bosley from Happy Days. They wanted a Tom Bosley-ish character, i.e. a middle-aged, wisecracking Dad type character, to be the mentor for the three angels, but Spelling couldn't get Bosley due to his contractual commitment to Happy Days, so they hired David Doyle instead.
As everyone knows Ron Howard became a famous director after leaving Happy Days. He had many hits and even won an Oscar. They even wove this into the storylines, in a couple episodes when Ritchie decides to become a movie director.
Al Molinaro was a regular on Garry Marshall's other big sitcom before Happy Days; the Odd Couple, where he played Murray the cop, longtime friend of Felix and Oscar. But on The Odd Couple Felix and Oscar were always teasing Murray about his nose; on Happy Days they never did that, (maybe because Big Al was so much older than Fonz and the gang at Arnold's; it was a respect thing).
Among the merchandising produced during the show's run were T-shirts (proclaiming "Sit on it!"), a line of figures from Mego (featuring a Fonzie whose thumbs could be posed up or down), and a record compilation of 1950s hits, whose cover was a souvenir photo of Henry Winkler in character. (A disclaimer read "No! The Fonz has not taken to singing on this album!")
Harold Gould appeared as Howard Cunningham in the unsold pilot. When Garry Marshall decided to re-shoot the pilot Gould was once again offered the Howard Cunningham role. He turned it down, because he had already committed to doing a Broadway play. Tom Bosley was later chosen for the part.
Among the differences between the show's beginnings as the "Love and the Happy Day" episode on Love, American Style (1969) and its premiere two years later as a series is that the role of Howard Cunningham originally was played by Harold Gould instead of Tom Bosley and there was no Fonzie on that episode.
Ron Howard filmed the pilot to Happy Days before appearing in American Graffiti (1973). ABC rejected the pilot; saying it was boring and passe and nobody wanted to watch a show about the 50s; and aired it as an episode of Love American Style (1969). Then American Graffiti came out and was a huge hit. Nostalgia in the 50s and 60s suddenly became very popular as a result; and ABC changed it's minds about Happy Days; opting to buy a new souped up version of the show.
In an Emmy TV Legends Interview Marion Ross said that Erin Moran did not handle fame well. She said that her parents were unstable and unsupportive. Ross said that Erin Moran eventually succumbed to pressures and self destructive instincts that annihilate so many young actors in Hollywood as a result. She suggested that parents should not let their kids get involved in Hollywood and showbiz at all. "It's not good for the family. It isn't easy. And it isn't permanent". She said the "only child actor in Hollywood that's survived and turned out OK is Ron Howard. Name another one. I can't."
In interviews about the show Roz Kelly, who played Pinky Tuscadero, said she didn't get along with Henry Winkler, her onscreen boyfriend. "I was from the wrong side of the tracks and he was a rich kid. That rubbed me the wrong way." Kelly was originally slated to be a permanent cast member but infighting with Winkler and other cast members got her written off the show.
There were 6 cast members who had red hair on this show. Chuck (Gavan Ohilery), Marion (Marion Ross), Ralph (Donnie Most), Richie (Ron Howard) and Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) all had red hair on this show. Nancy Walker also appeared as a recurring character, (Nancy) and she has red hair also. In addition to this Beatrice Colen, who played the waitress Marcia, also had reddish hair as well. That's more gingers than any other TV show; except for the Waltons where 6 of the 7 children had red hair.
The dance Fonzie does when he wins the dance contest with Joanie is actually "Hava Nagila", a famous Jewish dance. While Fonzie was Italian and not Jewish (the opposite of actor Henry Winkler), his grandmother had re-married into a Jewish family (becoming Mrs. Nussbaum), which could explain how Fonzie learned about it.
Arnold was referred to but never seen in the first season. Eventually ABC insisted that Arnold make an appearance. (This was one of the deals Gary Marshall made with the network as he was retooling the show for the 1975-1976 season.)
Richie and Joanie are the only two other characters to wear Fonzie's leather jacket. Richie wore it twice while pretending to be Fonzie and Joanie wore it once while Fonzie was in therapy for fighting too much.
The Fonzie character rose in prominence as the series progressed, eventually even to outshine the star Ron Howard. Ironically though, once Ron Howard left the show, the show's quality deteriorated and was never the same again (it "Jumped the Shark!") This is agreed upon by pretty much everyone, even the stars of the show. Marion Ross has said in interviews of Ron Howard's departure :"We (the cast) thought the show wouldn't survive after Ron left. It did survive but it was never the same".
Nancy Walker starred on the ABC sitcom Happy Days spinoff Blansky's Beauties in the 1977-1978 season. She was also starring as Ida Morganstern, Rhoda's mother on the CBS sitcom Rhoda, another spinoff, during this same time.
The Tuscaerdo sisters, Leather and Pinky, have similar hand gestures. Pinky snaps, crunches her hands together and then points at whoever she's talking to, and Leather slaps her thigh twice and then points her finger, like a gun, and whoever she's talking to and says "Pow". They both use these gestures interchangeably with hello and goodbye.
Eddie Mekka plays Carmine Ragusa, boyfriend to Shirley Feeney and friend to Laverne Defazio and the Fonze in both Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. He also plays Carmine's twin lookalike cousin Joey Delueca on the Happy Days spinoff Blansky's Beauties. This is made all the more strange by the fact that Happy Days takes place in the past, in 1950s Milwaukee, and Blansky's Beauties takes place (in what was then the present), in Vegas in the 1970s, and these and other characters on the two shows cross over through this time warp without any mention of any of this.
When the show started network executives objected to Fonzie's leather jacket, saying it seemed to endorse punks and criminal activities. They insisted he wear a windbreaker instead. Gary Marshall convinced network executives that Fonzie was wearing his leather jacket for safety reasons while riding his motorcycle. The ABC executives relented by saying he could wear his jacket as long as he was driving his bike. Marshall then told Happy Days writers never to have Fonzie on-screen unless he was riding his motorcycle, which allowed him to wear his leather jacket 24/7. The character surged in popularity during this period, and network executives soon lost their trepidation with the jacket.
Gary Marshall, Marion Ross and Ron Howard all starred in Grand Theft Auto in 1977 while Happy Days was still on the air. This was the first movie Ron Howard directed; and it was also his first big hit.
For the first couple seasons Good Times and Happy Days were scheduled at the same time, on Tuesday nights at 8pm EST, so they were in direct competition with each other. Good Times was the champ during the first two years, and Happy Days was slated for cancellation. Then Happy Days was retooled in part to copy some of the strong points of Good Times: Good Times had a flamboyant teen idol ladies man type character at it' s core who used lot of catch phrases ( JJ). So Happy Days decided to copy the same format, pushing Fonzie, its teen idol, into the center of the show, giving him lots of catch phrases to compete with "Dynomite", like "Ayyyy!" and "coolimundo!". The changes worked: Happy Days jumped to number 1 in the ratings, crushing the competition Good Times.
The cast of Happy Days recently sued CBS (who currently owns the rights to the show) for merchandising royalties. According to them they were not getting any money from all the merchandising from the show; and all the lunch boxes, slot machines, posters and other show paraphernalia from their likenesses. CBS eventually settled and awarded them all a small sum of money.
Originally they were thinking about setting this in the 20s. Nostalgia for the 20s and 30s was at an all time high in 1972 (it was more popular, at that point, than nostalgia for the 50s). But Gary Marshall pushed to have it set in the 1950s, and he eventually prevailed.
In his recent autobiography "Singing to a Bulldog" Anson Williams discloses that Gary Marshall told him to develop his entrepreneurial skills; which he has done to great effect; starting several successful businesses including a beauty and skin products line for celebrities and making himself a successful TV director in Hollywood. Marshall told Williams "With your acting skills it's good to have a fallback option."
The only shows which rival Happy Days' spinoffs are All in the Family, and Saturday Night Live (which had 11 spinoff movies from the show). Star Trek also had many TV show spinoffs and movie spinoffs as well; Law and Order and CSI have also had numerous spinoffs.
Richie and Fonzie originally met when Fonzie was a member of the Falcons; a local gang with a bad reputation. When Fonzie threatened to beat Richie up, rather than run away or crumble, Richie stood his ground, suggesting they'd probably make better friends than enemies, but he was ready to fight if that's what Fonzie really wanted. Fonzie had never gotten this kind of response before, thought it over, and realized he admired Richie's boldness. The two became friends, and Fonzie quit the Falcons not long afterwards.
Anson Williams, Marion Ross and Ron Howard all collaborated on the TV movie "Skyward" in 1980. Ron Howard directed it; Williams co-produced it and Marion Ross starred in it. Bette Davis also appeared in the movie. Amazingly she was a stand in for Melissa Sue Anderson, who could not appear in the project for scheduling reasons! Apparently no one has anything nice to say about Ms. Davis. "I was scared of her," Marion Ross says of the movie legend. "I stayed away from her." Anson Williams also said Ms Davis was not very fun to work with. Facts of Life star Lisa Welchel also appeared in this high profile and highly rated 1980 tv movie as well.
When the show started it definitely was a period piece; the people did look like it was the 50s. By the end of the show show; in 1984; everyone was dressing contemporary and there was no attempt at period piece authenticity; everyone was simply dressed like people from 1984.
Tom Bosley and Anson Williams were each directed by Steven Spielberg on television (Bosley for two 'Night Gallery' episodes, Williams for one 'Owen Marshall' episode), before they were cast on the series.
This show had more catch phrases than any other sitcom in the history of television. The only other TV show with more catch phrases in the whole history of television is Saturday Night Live, and that is a variety show or a skit show, not a sitcom. The following are examples of Happy Days' catch phrases. Fonzie: Ayyyyyy! That is Cool! That is un-Cool! Coolimundo! and Whoa! Ritchie: I Found My Thrill! Yowza! Yowza! Yowza! Hey Bucko! and Huh-huh-huh. Ralph: I still got it! Chaachi: Wha-Wha-Wha! and Hey Blue Eyes! Big Al: Yep-Yep-Yep-Yep-Yep! Also "Sit on it!" was a catch phrase for everyone in the cast. Also crossover characters Mork from Ork: Nanoo-nanoo! And Zazbot! And Carmine Ragusa: They say my life was rags to riches.
In one episode, Fonzie gets a visit from his idol, the Lone Ranger...As he leaves, he gives Fonzie a silver bullet. The Lone Ranger's trademark. The Lone Ranger was played by John Hart, who played the Lone Ranger in the 1950's along with Clayton Moore.
Phil Silvers appearance on the Happy Days episode "Just a Piccolo"; playing the father to daughter Kathy Silvers' Jenny Piccolo character; was one of his last TV appearances anywhere; and he died in 1985; shortly after Happy Days wrapped.