Happy Days

Happy Days Information

Happy Days is an American television sitcom that originally aired from January 15, 1974, to September 24, 1984, on ABC. Created by Garry Marshall, the series presents an idealized vision of life in the mid-1950s to mid-1960s United States.

The series was produced by Miller-Milkis Productions (Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions in later years) and Henderson Productions in association with Paramount Network Television.


Set in the Midwestern city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the series revolves around teenager Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his family: his father, Howard (Tom Bosley), who owns a hardware store; traditional homemaker and mother, Marion (Marion Ross); younger sister Joanie (Erin Moran); and high school dropout, biker and suave ladies' man Arthur "Fonzie"/"The Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), who would eventually become the Cunninghams' upstairs tenant. The earlier episodes revolve around Richie and his friends, Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams) and Ralph Malph (Donny Most), with Fonzie as a secondary character. As the series progressed, Fonzie proved to be a favorite with viewers and soon more story lines were written to reflect his growing popularity. Fonzie befriended Richie and the Cunningham family, and when Richie left the series for military service, Fonzie became the central figure of the show. In later seasons, other characters were introduced including Fonzie's young cousin, Charles "Chachi" Arcola (Scott Baio), who became a love interest for Joanie Cunningham.

The series' pilot was originally shown as "Love and the Happy Days," a one-episode teleplay on the anthology series Love, American Style. Happy Days spawned the hit television shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy as well as two failures, Joanie Loves Chachi and Blansky's Beauties (the latter featuring Nancy Walker as Howard's cousin). The show is the basis for the Happy Days musical touring the United States since 2008. The leather jacket worn by Winkler during the series hangs in the Smithsonian Institution.

List of characters

  • Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) (Seasons 1-7) - The protagonist for the first seven years of the series (1974"1980). When Howard left the show due to his burgeoning directorial career, Richie was written out by leaving to join the United States Army. He married his girlfriend Lori Beth in season 8 by the phone where Fonzie was standing in Richie's place in the wedding. Howard returned for guest appearances as Richie during the show's final season. He came back with Lori Beth and their son, Richie Jr., and Ralph in the season 11 two-part episode, "Welcome Home", and then left for California with Lori Beth and Richie Jr. to pursue a career in screenwriting. He also returned in "Passages", when he and his family attended Joanie and Chachi's wedding.
  • Marion "Mrs.C" Cunningham (Marion Ross) - Wife of Howard Cunningham, mother of Richie and Joanie, and a traditional homemaker. She was the only character whom Fonzie allowed to call him by his real first name, Arthur, which she always did affectionately. She sometimes would get tired of being at home, such as in "Marion Rebels" where she gets into an argument with Howard and briefly gets a job as a waitress at Arnold's. In "Empty Nest" when Joanie left for Chicago to pursue her music career, Marion had "empty nest syndrome" and was thrilled when her and Howard's niece, K.C., moved in with them. Marion was one of only four characters (the others being Mr. C., Fonzie, and Potsie) to remain with the show throughout its entire run.
  • Howard "Mr.C" Cunningham (Tom Bosley) - Husband of Marion Cunningham, father of Richie and Joanie, business owner of a hardware store called "Cunningham's Hardware", he is a lodge member, and family man. Frequently seen reading the daily newspaper in his easy chair. Enjoys driving his beloved 1949 DeSoto Carry-All. In "Letting Go", he did not want Joanie to go to Chicago, still seeing her as his "little girl". But after talking with Fonzie and realizing how much she has grown up, he supports her going. In "Passages", Howard says that he is proud of Richie and Joanie in Joanie and Chachi's wedding. Howard is one of only two characters (the other being Fonzie) to appear in every episode of the series.
  • Joanie Cunningham (Erin Moran) (Seasons 1-9, 11) - Richie's younger sister. In early seasons, she is sometimes snooping on Richie's activities and would occasionally be sent to her room by her parents. She is affectionately called "Shortcake" by Fonzie. Later on, Joanie briefly joins a motorcycle gang after going on a date with a boy, whom she considered to be "dull". In "Smokin' Ain't Cool", Joanie started smoking in order to be in a cool club, until Fonzie sets her straight. For years, Fonzie's cousin, Chachi, had been chasing her until she eventually agreed to a date with him. She and Chachi would eventually form a band together; and in "Letting Go", they leave for Chicago to pursue their music career (which spun off the short-lived series Joanie Loves Chachi). Joanie, however, eventually left the band to return home to pursue a teaching career. She and Chachi then broke up for a time until Chachi proposes to her and they get married in the series finale.
  • Arthur "Fonzie"/"The Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) - Initially a minor character, he was a hugely popular breakout character and was made a series regular. Fonzarelli's "Fonzie" nickname and iconic comeback phrase, "Sit on it," were created by the show's producer, Bob Brunner. Known for being especially cool and for his catchphrases "(H)eyyyy!" and "Whoa!" His coolness gave him special powers, such as making machinery (such as Arnold's jukebox and other vending machines, electric lights, and car engines) function by pounding on them with his fist, or getting the attention of girls by snapping his fingers. His parents abandoned him as a child and his grandmother raised him from the age of six. He became friends with the Cunninghams and eventually rented their room above the garage. In the episode "Our Gang", Richie told Chachi the story (in flashback) about when he and Fonzie first met while Fonzie was still in a gang to show Chachi that gangs are not any good and that Fonzie secretly quit the gang. In "A Woman Not Under the Influence", he realized that he wanted to be with one woman and he met Ashley Pfister and her daughter Heather. However, Ashley was not interested in dating him because he is exactly like her ex-husband, until Fonzie insists that it is not true and she agrees to go on a date. After the date, their relationship develops; however, their relationship ended sometime before the episode "Where the Guys Are." His heroes are James Dean and The Lone Ranger. He also has a deep love for rock 'n' roll, such as in the episode "A Touch of Classical", when one of his girlfriends, Cynthia, a fan of classical music, chose the genre to be played for the school dance; and Fonzie was upset about this at first, believing that everyone would rather listen to rock 'n' roll and that classical music was "terrible music", until he actually listened to the music and he tried to convince everyone to give it a try. Fonzie also expressed this same disappointment when folk music was being played at the jukebox at Arnold's and Arnold told him that "rock 'n' roll is out." He became more disappointed when Joanie and Chachi were going to appear on television to perform in a hootenanny. After talking with Ashley about his fear of change, he goes to the hootenanny to support Joanie and Chachi. In the series finale "Passages", Fonzie meets a boy named Danny whom he wanted to adopt. He was not allowed to adopt him because the adoption agency did not allow single parent adoptions. Towards the end of the episode, Fonzie was allowed to adopt Danny and they attend Joanie and Chachi's wedding. Fonzie is one of only two characters (the other being Mr. C.) to appear in every episode of the series.
  • Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams) - Richie's best friend and an aspiring talented singer. He is somewhat more carefree and worldly than Richie in early seasons, then in mid seasons, he becomes more often paired with Ralph for plots, and the two became inseparable. In later seasons, his character evolves to increasingly emphasize his dimwitted side, and Ralph would often say to him "You're such a Potsie". Potsie often lightheartedly mentioned the supposed hatred his father (who never appeared on the show) had for him. Potsie remained with the show after Richie and Ralph joined the Army; however, he was seen less frequently. While Potsie's character became underdeveloped in these later episodes (and he, along with Ralph, was one of the few characters absent from the finale), he is mentioned to regularly bowl with the Cunninghams and still continues his position as assistant manager of Cunningham Hardware, and as pledge master of the Leopard Lodge. Potsie was one out of four characters (the others being Mr. and Mrs. C., and Fonzie) to stick with the show throughout its entire run.
  • Ralph Malph (Donny Most) (Seasons 1-7) - In the first season, Ralph was depicted as a ladies' man with a cool car that he often used to win girls over from Richie and Potsie (albeit still unlike Fonzie), but later evolved into a cowardly and self-styled comedian, and best friend of Richie and Potsie (the two also later became roommates). Known for saying "I still got it!" after delivering one of his jokes. Ralph left with Richie after the 1979-1980 season to join the Army. Malph returned as a guest star in the final season, although he is absent in the finale (along with Potsie) " he is mentioned as having left to continue college to become an optometrist like his father.
  • Charles "Chachi" Arcola (Scott Baio) (Seasons 5-9, 11) - Fonzie's younger cousin and later Al Delvecchio's stepson. Chachi eventually dated and later married Joanie Cunningham.
  • Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita) - In Season 1, Arnold had little air time. Morita depicted the owner of Arnold's Drive-In for Season 3 (1975"1976). He stated that he obtained the moniker when he purchased Arnold's restaurant and people thought it was named after him, explaining that it was too costly to buy enough letter signs needed to rename it "Takahashi". He moonlighted as a martial arts instructor, teaching self-defence classes at the drive-in after hours. Morita also played "Arnold" as a guest star in 1977 and 1979 before returning as a recurring character after Al Molinaro departed in 1982.
  • Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro) - From Seasons 4"10 (1976"1982) Al became the new owner/cook of the drive-in after Arnold got married the previous season. Al later married Chachi's mother Louisa, thereby becoming Chachi's stepfather and Fonzie's uncle. Molinaro left Happy Days in 1982 to take his "Al" character to Joanie Loves Chachi, and returned as Al in three later episodes of Happy Days. Known for sighing "Yeeep, yep, yep, yep, yep" when he was disappointed or when things did not go his way.
  • Jenny Piccalo (Cathy Silvers) (Season 10, recurring: Seasons 8-9) - Joanie's boy-crazy best friend (1980"1983). Mentioned often in early episodes, but did not appear in person until the 1980 season. Returned as a guest star in the series finale. Jenny's father appeared in one episode, played by Silvers' real-life father Phil Silvers.
  • Roger Phillips (Ted McGinley) (Seasons 10-11, recurring: Seasons 8-9) - Marion's nephew, coach and teacher at Jefferson High, until "Vocational Education" where he became principal at Patton High. Introduced in 1980 after Richie left the show as a recurring character.
  • Lori Beth Allen-Cunningham (Lynda Goodfriend) (Seasons 8-9, recurring: 5-7) - Richie's girlfriend and later his wife (1977"1982). She married Richie by phone in season 8. Fonzie helped Lori Beth while she delivers the baby in "Little Baby Cunningham." She returned as a guest star in the final season.

Minor characters

  • Charles "Chuck" Cunningham (Gavan O'Herlihy, Randolph Roberts) - Oldest son of Howard and Marion Cunningham, older brother of Richie and Joanie, college student and basketball player. Chuck's rarely seen character disappeared without explanation in season two, giving rise to the pejorative term "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" to describe TV characters simply disappearing from shows, to the point where later episodes of the show are scripted as if the character had never existed. For example, in the last Happy Days episode, Howard comments that he is proud of his "two kids".
  • "Bag" Zombroski (Neil J. Schwartz) - A schoolmate and leader of a gang called "The Demons".
  • Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) - Former girlfriend of Fonzie and a traveling demolition derby driver.
  • Leather Tuscadero (Suzi Quatro) - Musician. Sister of Pinky Tuscadero, and a former juvenile delinquent. Formed her own girl group called "Leather Tuscadero and the Suedes".
  • Dr. Mickey Malph (Alan Oppenheimer, then Jack Dodson) - Ralph's father, an optometrist and, like his son, a self-styled comedian.
  • Singer/actor Eddie Reardon appeared in one episode as Fonzie's father. Reardon earlier had scored a 1958 Billboard hit with 'Nothin Shakin' for Argo Records, a subsidiary of Chess, under the name Eddie Fontaine.
  • Leopold "Flip" Phillips (Billy Warlock)- Roger's rebellious younger brother. (Recurring in the 10th season only)
  • Krystal "KC" Cunningham (Crystal Bernard) - Howard and Marion's niece. She moved in with Howard and Marion after Joanie left for Chicago. She left an all-girls boarding school in Texas because it closed down. Her parents are always traveling. She also became friends with Jenny and she went on her first date with Melvin. (Recurring in the 10th season only)
  • Marsha Simms (Beatrice Colen) - A carhop in the first two seasons.
  • Raymond "Spike" Fonzarelli (Danny Butch) Fonzie's nephew (or cousin, as both were used) and his copycat. He went on a date with Joanie in "Not with My Sister, You Don't." Made fleeting appearances before the introduction of Chachi. The kinship between Spike and Chachi was never explained.
  • Wendy (Hee Haw's Misty Rowe) - Another carhop from Arnold's in the first two seasons.
  • Louisa Arcola-Delvecchio (Ellen Travolta) - Mother of Chachi Arcola and Fonzie's aunt. She married Al Delvecchio and they moved to Chicago.
  • Candyman - An evil mobster that made appearances on the show.
  • Melvin Belvin (Scott Bernstein) - Nerdy classmate of Joanie and Chachi and he went on a date with K.C. Cunningham.
  • Eugene Belvin (Denis Mandel) - Twin brother of Melvin Belvin.
  • Bobby (Harris Kal) - Friend of Chachi and Joanie seen in episodes after Richie and Ralph left the show.
  • Tommy (Kevin Sullivan) - Another friend of Chachi and Joanie see in episodes after Richie and Ralph left the show.
  • Bill "Sticks" Downey (Jack Baker) - African American friend of Fonzie, Richie, Potsie and Ralph and drummer for their band, hence his nickname "Sticks", though he claimed he got the nickname because he was skinny. The only African American to play any sort of significant role in the show.
  • Gloria (Linda Purl) - Richie's occasional girlfriend in the second season.
  • Ashley Pfister (Linda Purl) (Season 10) - Divorced mother who becomes Fonzie's steady girlfriend, but later broke up offscreen sometime before, "Where the Guys Are." (1982"1983).
  • Heather Pfister (Heather O'Rourke) (Recurring in Season 10 only) - Ashley Pfister's daughter (1982"1983).
  • Danny Fonzarelli (Danny Ponce) - Fonzie's adopted son in the series finale.
  • Police Officer Kirk / Army Reserve Major Kirk (Ed Peck) - Fonzie's nemesis and antagonist, who's eager to demonstrate his inflated sense of authority, and on the watch for delinquents and "pinkos" (communists). Kirk took over as acting Sheriff following the untimely death of Sheriff Flanaghan, proclaiming in Arnold's that it was the last time he'll change tire without using a jack.
  • Richie Cunningham Jr. (Bo Sharon) - Richie and Lori Beth's son.

Guest stars

  • Milwaukee Braves home run king Hank Aaron appeared in one episode.
  • Former teen idol Frankie Avalon appeared as himself (as Al's cousin), singing his signature song "Venus" to a swooning Jenny Piccalo at the Leopard Lodge's annual "Poo Bah Doodah" musical.
  • Dr. Joyce Brothers appears in Episode 105 as herself, trying to help Fonzie's dog out of a depression.
  • Julie Brown made her television debut in the episode "Ahhh Wilderness" as one of three girls who went camping with Richie, Fonzie et al. Although the first new episode of the series to air in the 1980s, the episode was produced in 1979 (as per copyright).
  • Gail Edwards appears in Season 7 Episode 162 as "Loretta" - Potsie's love interest.
  • Morgan Fairchild appears in Season 5 Episode 96 as a snooty rich socialite who tries to humiliate Fonzie.
  • Herbie Faye appeared as "Pop" in the 1974 episode "Knock Around the Block."
  • Lorne Greene made a brief walk-on cameo during the first episode of Season 5, which took place in Hollywood.
  • 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. 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 & Hooch, but creative differences between the two stars led to Winkler being fired from the job.
  • John Hart (television's "The Lone Ranger" from 1952"54) made a guest appearance in an episode where Fonzie meets his childhood idol. In 1981, a new Lone Ranger movie was being filmed. Controversy arose when television's original Lone Ranger, Clayton Moore, was banned, by Jack Wrather Productions, from wearing the Lone Ranger mask. Therefore, Moore was scratched and Hart was hired.
  • Christopher Knight, otherwise known as Peter Brady on Paramount's The Brady Bunch on ABC, played Joanie's boyfriend on a Valentine's Day episode.
  • Cheryl Ladd made a guest appearance in Season 2, Episode 32 "Wish Upon a Star". She plays the part of a Hollywood starlet Richie wins a date with.
  • Maureen McCormick, otherwise known as Marcia Brady on Paramount's The Brady Bunch on ABC, was "Hildie" in episode number 32 during Season 2.
  • James Millhollin, a character actor, made the last television appearance of his career as Mr. Rudi in the 1979 episode "Potsie Quits School".
  • James Randi appeared as himself in Season 6, Episode 126 ("The Magic Show").
  • Buffalo Bob Smith and Clarabell the Clown appeared in Season 2 Episode 35. They came to town looking for Howdy-Doody look-alikes. The episode was so popular Smith launched The New Howdy Doody Show a year later.
  • Craig Stevens, the star of detective show Peter Gunn played Ashley Pfister's father in the season 10 episode "Hello Pfisters".
  • Charlene Tilton (Later on Warner Bros. Dallas from 1978 to 1991 on CBS) appears in Season 3 Episode 70 as Joanie's cheerleading rival, challenging Fonzie to a "dance off".
  • Janine Turner, later Maggie O'Connell of CBS's Northern Exposure, appeared in the 1983 episode, "Where the Guys Are".
  • Robin Williams appeared in two episodes, #108 ("My Favorite Orkan") and #136 ("Mork Returns") as Mork from Ork. In "My Favorite Orkan", Mork wants to take Richie back to Ork with him to study earthlings. The episode was so popular that it led to Happy Days ' second series spin-off (the first being Laverne and Shirley) called Mork & Mindy. Williams returned as Mork in "Mork Returns", during the height of Mork and Mindy's popularity.

Main cast members

Role Seasons Episode Count Portrayed by
Richie Cunningham 1"7 171 episodes Ron Howard
Arthur "The Fonz/Fonzie" Fonzarelli 1-11 255 episodes Henry Winkler
Howard Cunningham 1"11 255 episodes Tom Bosley
Marion Kelp Cunningham 1"11 254 episodes Marion Ross
Joanie Cunningham Arcola 1-9, 11 234 episodes Erin Moran
Potsie Weber 1-11 210 episodes Anson Williams
Ralph Malph 1-7 165 episodes Donny Most
Al Delvecchio/Father Anthony Delvecchio 4-9 146 episodes Al Molinaro
Chachi Arcola 5-9, 11 126 episodes Scott Baio
Lori Beth Allen Cunningham 5-9 62 episodes Lynda Goodfriend
Jenny Piccalo 8-10 54 episodes Cathy Silvers
Roger Phillips 8-11 64 episodes Ted McGinley
Ashley Pfister 10 15 episodes Linda Purl

Cast changes

With Season 4, 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 (Morita had left the program to star in a short-lived sitcom of his own, Mr. T and Tina, which was actually a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter. Morita also starred in a subsequent short lived Happy Days spin-off series entitled Blansky's Beauties). 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.

The most major character changes occurred after Season 5 with the addition of Scott Baio as Fonzie's cousin, Charles "Chachi" Arcola. Originally, the character Spike (mentioned as Fonzie's nephew in the episode "Not With My Sister You Don't," but also claimed to be his cousin, as was stated in one episode) was supposed to be the character who became Chachi. Season 5 also saw the introduction of more outlandish and bizarre plots including Fonzie making a bet with the Devil, and the appearance of Mork (Robin Williams), an alien who wanted to take Richie back to his homeworld. Although when first aired this ended with it all simply being a dream Richie was having, after the success of the spin-off Mork & Mindy this episode was retconned in subsequent airings by way of additional footage to have actually taken place, with Mork having wiped everyone's memory except Richie's and then deciding to time travel to the present day (the setting of Mork & Mindy).

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. Also joining the cast was Cathy Silvers as Jenny Piccalo, Joanie's best friend who was previously referenced in various episodes from earlier seasons and remained as a main cast member until the final season. Both actors were originally credited as guest stars but were promoted to the main cast during the tenth season after several series regulars left the show. 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., whom he later worked for at Cunningham Hardware, 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) and were credited as part of the semi-regular cast. Both characters left with the return of Moran and Baio, following the cancellation of Joanie Loves Chachi. Also leaving Happy Days in Season 10 for Joanie Loves Chachi was Al Molinaro; Pat Morita returned to the cast as Arnold in his absence.

In Season 11, the story line of Richie and Lori Beth is given closure with the two-part episode "Welcome Home". Richie returns home from the Army, but barely has time to unpack when he learns that his parents have lined up a job interview at the Milwaukee Journal for him. However, they are taken aback when he tells them he prefers to take his chances in California to become a Hollywood screenwriter. They remind him of his responsibilities and while Richie gives in, he becomes angry and discontent, torn between his obligations to his family and fulfilling his dream. After a confrontation that ends with a conversation with Fonzie, he decides to face his family and declare his intentions. While somewhat reluctant at first, they support him and bid Richie, Lori Beth, and Little Richie an emotional farewell.

Ralph also returns home after being honorably discharged from the U.S. Army in the episode entitles "Welcome Home" and he decides to become an optometrist just like his father. Ralph goes off to college and this serves as his last appearance in Happy Days.

Gail Edwards, who previously guest starred in the episode "A Potsie Is Born," was offered the role that Crystal Bernard would fill but was never told so by her managers, as they knew she would take the role and they did not want her to be a "new character on an old show." Edwards would subsequently appear with Bernard in 93 episodes of It's a Living. Happy Days producers Tom Miller and Bob Boyett would eventually get to work with Edwards again, casting her as a regular on their future sitcoms The Family Man (1990-1991) and Full House, where Edwards portrayed Vicky Larson from 1991 until 1994.


Happy Days originated during a time of 1950s nostalgic interest as evident in 1970s film, television, and music. Beginning as an unsold pilot filmed in late 1971 called New Family in Town, with Harold Gould in the role of Howard Cunningham, Marion Ross as Marion, Ron Howard as Richie, Anson Williams as Potsie, Ric Carrott as Charles "Chuck" Cunningham, and Susan Neher as Joanie, Paramount passed on making it into a weekly series, and the pilot was recycled with the title Love and the Happy Days, for presentation on the television anthology series Love, American Style. In 1972, George Lucas asked to view the pilot to determine if Ron Howard would be suitable to play a teenager in American Graffiti, then in preproduction. Lucas immediately cast Howard in the film, which became one of the top-grossing films of 1973. Show creator Garry Marshall and ABC recast the unsold pilot to turn Happy Days into a series. According to Marshall in an interview, executive producer Tom Miller said while developing the sitcom, "If we do a TV series that takes place in another era, and when it goes into reruns, then it won't look old." This made sense to Marshall while on the set of the show.

Gould had originally been tapped to reprise the role of Howard Cunningham on the show. However, during a delay before the start of production he found work doing a play abroad and when he was notified the show was ready to begin production, he declined to return because he wanted to honor his commitment. Bosley was then offered the role.

Happy Days premiered in January 1974 in the Tuesday night time slot that had been occupied by Temperatures Rising, which had been put on hiatus for a second retooling.

Production and scheduling

  • Jerry Paris, who played next-door neighbor Jerry Helper on The Dick Van Dyke Show and directed several episodes of that series, directed every episode of Happy Days from the third season on, except for three episodes in Season 3 ("Jailhouse Rock", "Dance Contest" and "Arnold's Wedding").
  • Producer and writer Bob Brunner created Arthur Fonzarelli's "Fonzie" nickname and his iconic comeback phrase, "Sit on it."
  • Until the show went out of production, reruns of the show were syndicated under the title Happy Days Again.
  • Happy Days was produced by Miller-Milkis Productions, a teaming of Thomas L. Miller with former film editor Edward K. Milkis, which became Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions when Robert L. Boyett joined the company in 1980, and was the first ever show to be produced by the company's most recent incarnation, Miller-Boyett Productions, which followed Milkis's resignation from the partnership. It was also produced by Henderson Productions and was one of the popular shows produced in association with Paramount Television.
  • In its 11 seasons on the air, Happy Days is the second-longest running sitcom in ABC's history (behind The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, which ran 14 seasons, from 1952 to 1966), and one of the longest-running primetime programs in the network's history. It is also unique in that it remained in the Tuesday at 8:00 p.m. time slot for the series' first ten seasons. Tuesdays at 8 p.m. became a signature timeslot for ABC, with Who's The Boss? instantly becoming a Top 10 hit when it was moved from Thursdays and staying in that timeslot for six seasons, followed by the equally family-friendly sitcom Full House (another Miller-Boyett co-production). That sitcom also hit the Top 10 immediately after inheriting the Tuesday at 8 p.m. slot and then stayed there for four seasons.
  • Happy Days also proved to be quite popular in daytime reruns; they joined the ABC daytime schedule in 1975, airing reruns at 11:30 a.m. (ET), being moved to 11 a.m. in 1977, paired with Family Feud following at 11:30 a.m. It was replaced on the daytime schedule by reruns of its spin-off, Laverne & Shirley, in April 1979.
  • Happy Days also reruns on Five USA in the UK between 16:00 and 17:00, it was shown on Channel 4 between the early 1990s to the early 2000s (decade). Original run episodes in the 1970s and 1980s were shown on various regions of the ITV network usually on a weekday afternnon at 17.15.
  • ABC aired Happy Days Reunion in 1992, and a 30th-anniversary reunion special in 2005.
  • Happy Days began running on FamilyNet Television in January 2009 as part of a "Families on FamilyNet" evening programming block that also featured My Three Sons and Family Ties. This block was cancelled on February 26, 2010. Since October 2010, Happy Days airs on The Hub. Happy Days began airing on INSP in 2011, and returned to Hallmark Channel in 2013.
  • CBS programming head Fred Silverman scheduled Good Times directly against Happy Days during their respective second seasons in an attempt to kill the ABC show's growing popularity. In a way this move backfired on Silverman, as he was named president of ABC in 1975— thus forcing him to come up with a way to save the show he tried to kill the year before. After having knocked Happy Days out of the top 20 programs on television his last year at CBS, Silverman had the series at the top of the Nielsens by 1977 (see below).

Production styles

The first two seasons of Happy Days (1974, 1974-1975) were filmed using a single-camera setup and laugh track. One episode of Season 2 ("Fonzie Gets Married") was filmed in front of a studio audience with three cameras as a test run. From the third season on (1975-1984), the show was a three-camera production in front of a live audience (with a cast member, usually Tom Bosley, announcing that "Happy Days is filmed before a live audience" at the start of most episodes), giving these later seasons a markedly different style. A laugh track was still used during post-production to smooth over live reactions.


The show had two main sets: the Cunningham home and Arnold's Drive-In.

In Seasons 1 and 2, the Cunningham house was arranged with the front door on the left and the kitchen on the right of screen, in a triangular arrangement. Beginning with Season 3 (1975-1976), the house was rearranged to accommodate multiple cameras and a studio audience.

The Cunninghams' official address is 565 North Clinton Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The house that served as the exterior of the Cunningham residence is actually located at 565 North Cahuenga Boulevard (south of Melrose Avenue) in Los Angeles, several blocks from the Paramount lot on Melrose Avenue.

The Milky Way Drive-In, located on Port Washington Road in the North Shore suburb of Glendale, Wisconsin (now Kopp's Frozen Custard Stand), was the inspiration for the original Arnold's Drive-In; it has since been demolished. The exterior of Arnold's was a standing set on the Paramount Studios lot that has since been demolished. This exterior was close to Stage 19, where the rest of the show's sets were located.

The set of the diner in the first season was a room with the same vague details of the later set, such as the paneling, and the college pennants. When the show changed to a studio production in 1975, the set was widened and the entrance was hidden, but allowed an upstage, central entrance for cast members. The barely seen kitchen was also upstage and seen only through a pass-through window. The diner had orange booths, downstage center for closeup conversation, as well as camera left. There were two restroom doors camera right, labeled "Guys" and "Dolls". A 1953 Seeburg Model G jukebox (with replaced metal pilasters from Wico Corp.) was positioned camera right, and an anachronistic "Nip-It" pinball machine (actually produced in 1972) was positioned far camera right.

College pennants adorned the walls, including Purdue and University of Wisconsin"Milwaukee, along with a blue and white sign reading "Jefferson High School". Milwaukee's Washington High School provided the inspiration for the exteriors of the fictional Jefferson.

Storylines dictated that the set would be destroyed by fire. In later seasons, a different Arnold's Drive-in emerged and lasted through the later years of the show. The new set featured wood paneling and stained glass.

In 2004, two decades after the first set was destroyed, the Happy Days 30th Anniversary Reunion requested that the reunion take place in Arnold's. The set was rebuilt by Production Designer James Yarnell based on the original floor plan. The reunion special was taped at CBS Television City's Bob Barker Studio in September 2004.

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 1973) as the opening theme song. This recording was not commercially released at the time, although the original 1954 recording returned to the American Billboard charts in 1974 as a result of its use on the show. The "Happy Days" recording had its first commercial release in 2005 by the German label Hydra Records. (When Happy Days entered syndication in 1979, the series was retitled Happy Days Again and used an edited version of the 1954 recording instead of the 1973 version). Some versions intended for reruns and overseas broadcasts, the original "Rock Around the Clock" opening theme is replaced by the more standard "Happy Days" theme.

The show's closing theme song in Season 1 was a fragment from "Happy Days" (although in a different recording to that which would become the standard version), whose music was composed by Charles Fox and whose lyrics were written by Norman Gimbel. According to SAG, this version was performed by Jimmy Haas on lead vocals, Ron Hicklin of the Ron Hicklin Singers, Stan Farber, Jerry Whitman, and Gary Garrett on backing vocals, and studio musicians.

From Seasons 3"10 inclusive, a longer version of "Happy Days" replaced "Rock Around the Clock" at the beginning of the show. Released as a single in 1976 by Pratt & McClain, "Happy Days" cracked the Top 5. The show itself finished the 1976"77 television season #1, ending the five-year Nielsen reign of All in the Family. On the released DVD set of Season 2, the song "Rock Around the Clock" was replaced with a reconstructed version of "Happy Days." This was done because of music rights issues.

For the show's 11th and final season (1983"84), the theme was rerecorded in a more modern style. It featured Bobby Arvon on lead vocals, with several back-up vocalists. To accompany this new version, new opening credits were filmed, and the flashing Happy Days logo was reanimated to create an overall "new" feel which incorporated 1980s sensibilities with 1950s nostalgia (although by this time the show was set in 1965).


  • Season 1 (1974): #16 (21.5 rating)
  • Season 2 (1974"1975): Not in Top 30
  • Season 3 (1975"1976): #11 (23.9 rating)
  • Season 4 (1976"1977): #1 (31.5 rating)
  • Season 5 (1977"1978): #2 (31.4 rating)
  • Season 6 (1978"1979): #3 (28.6 rating)
  • Season 7 (1979"1980): #17 (21.7 rating)
  • Season 8 (1980"1981): #15 (20.8 rating)
  • Season 9 (1981"1982): #18 (20.6 rating)
  • Season 10 (1982"1983): #28 (17.4 rating)
  • Season 11 (1983"1984): #63
As a Top 30 series, Happy Days has an average 24.2 rating.

Broadcast history

  • Tuesday at 8:00-8:30 PM on ABC: January 15, 1974"?March 22, 1983
  • Tuesday at 8:30-9:00 PM on ABC: September 27, 1983"?May 8, 1984
  • Thursday at 8:30-9:00 PM on ABC: June 28"?July 19, 1984
  • Thursday at 8:00-8:30 PM on ABC: September 27, 1984


"Jumping the shark"

See Jumping the shark for more information The term "jumping the shark," describing a successful television series resorting to outlandish plot devices in lieu of quality writing, arose from the fifth season episode "Hollywood (Part 3)" that aired on September 20, 1977 wherein Fonzie (clad in swim trunks and leather jacket) jumps over a confined shark on waterskis. Happy Days continued to be successful for several years after literally "jumping the shark" before being cancelled in 1984. The program never received an Emmy nomination for writing during its entire run; comedy writing Emmy nominations during Happy Days broadcast history were routinely achieved by the writers of such shows as M*A*S*H, The Mary Tyler Moore Show and All in the Family.


Happy Days has been syndicated by many different networks. It aired in the United States on TBS in 1989-1995, Nick at Nite in the 1990s, Odyssey Network/Hallmark Channel from the late 1990s to 2002 (and again beginning in January 2013), TV Land from 2002"2007, WGN America from 2002 until 2008, and FamilyNet from 2009-2010. The Hub began showing it in October 2010. It also aired on Me-TV from December 21, 2010 until early 2012, when it was removed from the network's lineup, where it aired on Sunday afternoons at 1pm Eastern and Pacific time. The series also joined INSP's line-up, airing in an hour block from 6-7pm Eastern time, on January 2, 2012. It also airs it on Cloo.

When reruns first went into syndication on local stations while the series was still producing new episodes, the reruns were re-titled Happy Days Again. The series went into off-network syndication in fall 1979, just as the seventh season began on ABC.

Merchandising revenue lawsuit

On April 19, 2011, five Happy Days co-stars, Erin Moran, Don Most, Marion Ross, Anson Williams and the estate of the late Tom Bosley, who died in 2010, filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, which owns the show, claiming they had not been paid for merchandising revenues owed under their contracts. The cast members claimed they had not received revenues from show-related items, including comic books, t-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunch boxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards and DVDs where their images appear on the box covers. Under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid five percent from the net proceeds of merchandising if their sole image were used, and half that amount if they were in a group. CBS said it owed the actors $8,500 and $9,000 each, most of it from slot machine revenues, but the group said they were owed millions. The lawsuit was initiated after Ross was informed by a friend playing slots at a casino of a "Happy Days" machine on which players win the jackpot when five Marion Rosses are rolled.

In October 2011, a judge rejected the group's fraud claim, which meant they could not receive millions of dollars in potential damages. On June 5, 2012, a judge denied a motion filed by CBS to have the case thrown out, which meant it would go to trial on July 17 if the matter was not settled by then. In July 2012, the actors settled their lawsuit with CBS. Each received a payment of $65,000 and a promise by CBS to continue honoring the terms of their contracts.

DVD releases

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have released the first four seasons of Happy Days on DVD in Region 1. Each release from CBS features music replacements due to copyright issues, including the theme song "Rock Around the Clock" for Season 2 (Season 1 retained the original opening, as it was released before CBS was involved).

Seasons 1-3 have also been released on DVD in the UK, while in region 4 the first four seasons have been released.

DVD name Ep # Release dates
Region 1 Region 2 Region 4
The Complete First Season 16 August 17, 2004 August 27, 2007 September 19, 2007
The Second Season 23 April 17, 2007 November 12, 2007 March 6, 2008
The Third Season 24 November 27, 2007 April 7, 2008 September 4, 2008
The Fourth Season 25 December 9, 2008 January 9, 2011 February 5, 2009


Happy Days, itself a spin-off from Love, American Style, resulted in seven different spin-off series, including two that were animated: Laverne & Shirley, Blansky's Beauties, Mork & Mindy, Out of the Blue, Joanie Loves Chachi, The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang (animated) and Laverne & Shirley with Special Guest Star the Fonz (animated).

  • The most successful of these spin-offs, Laverne & Shirley (starring Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, respectively), also took place in early/mid-1960s Milwaukee. As Shotz Brewery workers, modeled after the Miller, Schlitz, and Pabst Breweries once located in Milwaukee, Laverne and Shirley find themselves in adventures with The Fonz, Lenny and Squiggy and even the Cunninghams also living in the midwestern city. The two starring characters eventually moved to Los Angeles in the show's later years. Penny Marshall is the sister of producer Garry Marshall.
  • Robin Williams made his first appearance as "Mork" on Happy Days. In his own sitcom, Mork & Mindy, his character of Mork, the alien from the planet Ork, landed in 1970s Boulder, Colorado, to study humans and took up residence with Pam Dawber's character of Mindy McConnell. Originally, Mork's appearance was explained as a dream of Richie's. But after the spin-off was established, a new ending was tagged on to the repeat of the Happy Days episode explaining that Mork would return to Earth in 1978.
  • Joanie Loves Chachi was a short-lived show about Richie's younger sister Joanie and Fonzie's younger cousin Chachi's relationship during their years as musicians in Chicago. A rumor suggests that the show was canceled due to low ratings. Actually, the program finished in the Top 20 its first season, but ABC determined that the show was losing too much of its lead-in, suggesting low appeal if the show were moved (a suggestion that came to be realized, as the show's ratings dropped dramatically after a move to another time slot in its second season). This type of cancellation seemed strange in the early 1980s, but soon became a commonplace part of TV audience research.
  • Out of the Blue is a spin-off of Happy Days, though a scheduling error had the series airing prior to the main character's introduction on Happy Days.
  • Blansky's Beauties (1977) starred Nancy Walker as former Las Vegas showgirl Nancy Blansky. One week before the show's premiere, the Blansky character appeared on Happy Days as a cousin of Howard Cunningham. Scott Baio and Lynda Goodfriend starred before joining Happy Days the following fall, and Pat Morita reprised his role of Arnold. Similarly. Eddie Mekka of Laverne & Shirley played the cousin of his Carmine character, while pulling double duty as a regular in both shows.


There are two animated series. Both were produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions in association with Paramount Television (now known as CBS Television Distribution). The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang ran from 1980"1982. There are also animated spin-offs of Laverne & Shirley (Laverne & Shirley Joins the Army) and Mork and Mindy (centering on a young Mork and Mindy in high school). The next season they were connected together as The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982).


In the late 1990s, a touring arena show called Happy Days, The Arena Spectacular toured Australia's major cities. The story featured a property developer, and former girlfriend of Fonzie called Miss Frost (Rebecca Gibney) wanting to buy the diner and redevelop it. It starred Craig McLachlan as Fonzie, Max Gillies and Wendy Hughes as Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham, Doug Parkinson as Al and Jo Beth Taylor as Richie's love interest Laura. Tom Bosley presented an introduction before each performance live on stage, and pop group Human Nature played a 1950s-style rock group.

Another stage show, Happy Days: A New Musical began touring in 2008.

See also

  • Fonz (video game)

This webpage uses material from the Wikipedia article "Happy_Days" and is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions the Wikipedia article may contain.



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