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Happy Days

Happy Days is an American television sitcom that originally aired from 1974 to 1984 on ABC. The show presents an idealized vision of American life in the 1950s and early 1960s America.

The family consists of Howard, a hardware store owner, Marion, his homemaker wife, and the couple's teenage children, Richie (who has an optimistic if somewhat naive outlook on life), Richie's sweet and beautiful but feisty and clumsy younger sister Joanie, and Richie's older brother Chuck (a character who abruptly disappeared during the second season). Most of the early episodes revolve around Richie (often with his best friend Potsie); as the series progressed, more and more stories were written to revolve around Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli, who was originally portrayed as a local dropout but soon befriended Richie and family, and became a huge hit with viewers. The focus would also occasionally shift to other additional characters, such as Fonzie's cousin Chachi, who became a love interest for Joanie Cunningham. The long-running show also spawned several spinoff shows, some of which were highly successful in their own right, including Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, and Joanie Loves Chachi.

The second season episode "The Not Making of the President" revolves around the 1956 presidential election, while the sixth season episode "Christmas Time" ends with a photo dated Christmas 1960. Despite some inconsistencies, it is generally indicated that the events of the series begin in 1955 and, after eleven seasons, end in 1966.


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 him 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 during the show's final season. (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)
* Flip Phillips (Billy Warlock) - Roger's brother. Seen only during 10th season.
* Krystal "KC" Cunningham (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.” The following week there was a 500% increase nation wide of children obtaining library cards. 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; and, later, Al Delvecchio's stepson. Dated, and eventually married, Joanie Cunningham.
* Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams) - Richie's closest friend. Somewhat more carefree than Richie in early seasons, he gradually becomes slightly dimwitted and, in the later seasons, quite so.
* Ralph Malph (Donny Most) - Richie's friend; left with Richie to join the army (1974-1980). Returned as a guest star in the final season.
* Matsumoto "Arnold" Takahashi (Pat Morita) - First depicted owner of Arnold's Drive-In (1975-1976), he obtained the moniker when he purchased the resturant and people addressed its new owner as "Arnold". He moonlighted as a martial arts instructor, teaching self-defense classes at the drive-in after hours. Returned after Al Molinaro departed (1982-1983).
* Al Delvecchio (Al Molinaro) - Drive-in owner/cook (1976-1982). Married Chachi's mother, thereby becoming Fonzie's uncle.
* Marsha Simms (Beatrice Colen) - Carhop in first two seasons.
* Spike (Danny Butch) - Fonzie's even younger cousin. Made fleeting appearances before the introduction of Chachi.
* Wendy (Misty Rowe) - Another carhop from Arnold's in the first two seasons.
* Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) - Former girlfriend of Fonzie.
* Leather Tuscadero (Suzi Quatro) - Musician. Sister of Pinky Tuscadero.
* Jenny Piccalo (Cathy Silvers) - Joanie's best friend (1980-1983). Mentioned often in early episodes, but never appeared 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.
* Lori Beth Allen Cunningham (Lynda Goodfriend) - Richie's girlfriend and later his wife (1977-1982). Returned as a guest star in the final season.
* Louisa Arcola / Louisa Delvecchio (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.
* Gloria (Linda Purl) - Richie's occasional girlfriend in the second season.
* Ashley Pfister (Linda Purl) - Divorced mother who becomes Fonzie's steady girlfriend, but later broke up with him (offscreen) (1982-1983).
* Heather Pfister (Heather O'Rourke) - 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; eager to demonstrate his inflated sense of authority, and on the watch for delinquents and "pinkos" (communists).

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.


Happy Days originated during a time of 1950s nostalgic interest evident in film, television, and music. The show began as an unsold pilot 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. While Paramount passed on making it into a weekly series, 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.

Production styles

The first two seasons of Happy Days 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, the show was a three-camera production in front of a live audience (with the announcement "Happy Days is filmed before a studio audience" at the start of most episodes), giving these later seasons a markedly different style.


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

In season 1 & 2, the Cunningham house was arranged with the front door on the left and the kitchen on the right, in a sort of triangle. Beginning with season 3, the house was radically rearranged to accommodate multiple cameras and a studio audience. However, the second season episode (mentioned above) in which Fonzie gets engaged was shot on the old set, but with multiple cameras.

The Cunninghams' official address is 565 North Clinton Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The address, although fictitious, suggests that the Cunninghams lived on the city's east side.

The house that served as the exterior of the Cunningham residence is actually located at 565 North Cahuenga Blvd (south of Melrose Avenue) in Los Angeles, just a few blocks from the Paramount lot on Melrose Avenue.

The Milky Way Drive-In, located on Port Washington Road in Glendale (Milwaukee), now Kopps, was the inspiration for the original Arnold's Drive-In. The Milky Way has since been demolished. The exterior of Arnold's was a 'dressed' area on the Paramount Studios lot, that has since been demolished, very close to the Stage 19, where the rest of the show's sets were located.

The set of the diner in the first series was a room with the same vague details of the later set, such as the paneling, and the college pennants. When the show was changed to a studio based taping, the set was redesigned and became the Arnold's that is most remembered. The set was largely opened to show the audience the scenes that took place within it. The Diner 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 bathroom doors camera right, labeled 'Guys' and 'Dolls'. A Seeburg jukebox was positioned camera right, and a pinball machine was positioned far camera right, (anachronistically a 1973 'Nip It' machine, contrary to the show's '50s setting).

College pennants adorned the walls including Marquette and UWM, along with a blue and white sign reading 'Jefferson High School'.

Storylines dictated that the set would be destroyed by fire, and so in later seasons, a different Arnold's Drive-in emerged and lasted through the later years of the show. Differing in design, with wood paneling and stained glass, the set was not popular amongst viewers , and was not how Arnold's was remembered .

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 familiar set was rebuilt by Production Designer James Yarnell. Built from the original ground plan, this was the first time that the Happy Days cast had been in this set since the 1970s.

Coined neologisms

"Jumping the Shark"

The most famous of these plots involved Fonzie performing a water ski jump over a shark in an episode aired on September 20, 1977, during the show's fifth season. In later years, this episode has often been cited as the point where the series had passed its peak of quality and popularity. The phrase jumping the shark was later applied to popular culture phenomena in general. While the Fonz's literal shark jump gave rise to the phrase, some fans consider Happy Days to have had more than one such moment, occurring both before and after the stunt in question. Of particular note are the fire that destroyed the original Arnold's Drive-In and the departure of leading man Ron Howard, both of which happened after the notorious stunt involving the shark. Prior to this, the Fonzie character had become almost a comic book version of himself, battling alongside with (and subsequently romancing) the Woman from Kathmandu (portrayed by Quantum Leap actress/producer Deborah Pratt) and Mork from Ork. Interestingly, although the series dipped slightly in viewership after Ron Howard's departure in 1980 (the show still remained a Top Thirty hit for three of its last four seasons), the Fonzie character became more grounded and "human" again - even venturing into a season of exploring domesticity and the trials of approaching middle age. Another figurative jumping of the shark occurred with the 1980 departure of Ron Howard, and the introduction of Ted McGinley who would similarly serve as a replacement castmember on The Love Boat and Married… with Children thereby becoming inexorably associated with the term 'jumping the shark'.

The "Fonzie Effect"

The early Happy Days episodes centered on Richie and teenage friend Warren "Potsie" Weber, dealing with typical adolescent woes in the 1950s and early/mid 1960s Milwaukee, along with peripherally seen peers such as Ralph Malph, Bag, et al. During the first season, the character Arthur "Fonzie"/"The Fonz" Fonzarelli was becoming a fan favorite, though he was originally intended to be a local high school dropout who was only occasionally seen. The Fonz character was given progressively more screen time by the writers, becoming a permanent cast member displayed in the second season opening credits. The Fonz quickly became the show's most popular character, and many episodes came to 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.

"Chuck Cunningham Syndrome"

The first two seasons of the series also featured Chuck, the Cunninghams' eldest child and Richie's older brother. The character was nearly superfluous, as his scenes were usually brief appearances "on his way to basketball practice." In fact, Chuck was originally a student at Marquette University on a basketball scholarship. Chuck was written out during the series' second season with no explanation and was rarely referred to again. Scripts from later seasons implied the Cunninghams had two, not three children. However, in the third and fourth-season recap versions of the Christmas episode, "Guess Who's Coming To Christmas", Fonzie — recalling his first Christmas with the Cunninghams — tells Arnold, and later, Al, that Chuck was "away at college." In a Happy Days reunion show from 2005, the cast mentioned that Chuck had won a scholarship to the "University of Outer Mongolia" to play basketball, as a sort of an inside joke. An officially circulated outtake from the final episode has Mr. Cunningham raising a glass to the entire cast and saying "to Happy Days." After taking a sip, he blurts out in mock surprise "Wait, where's Chuck?!" In the aired version, Mr. Cunningham specifies that he has two children (Richie and Joanie). The unexplained removal of a character in a TV series has come to be known as "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome". See also the character of Eugene Barkley in The Big Valley and Kevin Swanson in Family Guy.

New characters

Later seasons saw the addition of other characters. Introduced in the second season episode 'Not With My Sister, You Don't', Danny Butch played Fonzie's similarly dressed and mannered young cousin Raymond "Spike" Fonzarelli. Although he went on to make several more appearances, the character was felt to never completely catch on, and was reworked into that of Chachi at the start of the fifth season (see below).

At the start of the fourth season, Roz Kelly was brought in as Pinky Tuscadero, Fonzie's long-term girlfriend. Commercials for the subsequent season even began promoting Kelly's new character, but when discord occurred between her and the cast and producers, her character was dropped; the character was briefly mentioned in two subsequent episodes, one where her sister Leather Tuscadero came to town to start anew out of reform school, and when Fonzie was out of town at a demolition derby with Pinky.

Bill "Sticks" Downey, played by John-Anthony Bailey, was supposed to be added to the cast as a new member of Richie's band, on drums, and the gang at Arnold's but the character never caught on and only stayed for a few episodes.

During the first two seasons, a few actresses were brought in as potential long-term girlfriends for Richie. Laurette Spang was Richie's girlfriend Arlene in a couple of first season episodes, having first dated each other in the pilot episode which only aired as an installment of Love American Style owing to the numerous cast and set design changes. Later in the second season Linda Purl was brought in as Richie's girlfriend Gloria. Neither caught on storywise and Richie did not have a steady girlfriend until going to college and meeting Lori-Beth Allen (Lynda Goodfriend), a former classmate from Jefferson High. Linda Purl returned to the Happy Days fold in Season 10 as Fonzie's girlfriend Ashley Pfister (a divorced socialite of the wealthy Milwaukee Pfister family). The Pfisters were often also referenced on Laverne & Shirley as owners of many Milwaukee establishments, ie, Chez Pfister, The Hotel Pfister, Pfister Fong's.

Season 4

The most major character changes occurred after Season 4 with the addition of Scott Baio as Fonzie's cousin, Chachi Arcola. Originally the character Spike, mentioned as Fonzie's nephew (who's actually his cousin as he made it clear in one episode), 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, which was actually a spin-off of Welcome Back, Kotter. Morita would also star 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.

Seasons 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. Also joining the cast was Cathy Silvers as Jenny Piccolo, Joanie's best friend who was previously referenced in various episodes from earlier seasons who 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 10th 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. 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.

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. 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.
  • Milwaukee Braves home run king Hank Aaron appeared in one episode.
  • Ralph's father was an optometrist, played by Jack Dodson, who also played Howard Sprague on Ron Howard's previous sitcom, The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Lorne Greene made a brief walk-on cameo during the first episode of Season 5, which took place in Hollywood.


  • Various pinball machines manufactured in the early 1970s were seen in Arnold's, including a 1972 Bally produced machine called Nip-It. It is possible that the show's producers may have overlooked this, as pinball machines from the 1950s commonly known as "woodrails", have a more wooden look, compared to the machines used in the show.
  • The show, along with its spin off Laverne & Shirley, took progressively more liberties in terms of hair and clothing styles, which began to look more contemporary with the show's 1970s and 1980s production years. The hairstyles of Potsie, Ralph Malph, and (later) Chachi were not reflective of 1950s era for men. The characters all had hair over their ears, something that would have been considered very unmasculine during the era previous to 1964 and the "Beatles" haircuts and longer hair that followed.
  • The cars used in the Smash-up Derby sequence of the Pinky Tuscadero episodes would have been brand new or not even released yet when the episode was set.

Decline in popularity

Despite having the dubious honor of coining the phrase Jumping the Shark, Happy Days remained a successful sitcom in terms of ratings for its entire run (far greater than the length of most sitcoms' full lives). One might point to the forward thinking of Garry Marshall who drafted a very young Scott Baio while the series was at #1 (in 1976-1977) without him, and seemingly in no need of a new, very young, character. Three years later, when Ron Howard and Donny Most left the series, the focal point of the show became the relationship of the Joanie and Chachi characters, helping to carry the series onward with ratings success. Of those final four seasons (the 8th, 9th, 10th, and 11th), Season 10 stands out as the oddest. Scott Baio and Erin Moran were spun-off into "Joanie Loves Chachi" (itself a rating success in terms of viewers, but failure in terms of the new-at-the-time "lead-in variable" - a gauge to see if a show is holding a high enough percentage of the show that aired just before it during the hour) and the production staff scrambled to bring in conspicuously similar Cunningham relatives to fill those spots. Season 10 marked the only full season where Fonzie entered into a monogamous relationship. With the return of the full cast (even including three guest spots by Ron Howard - a two-part episode (also strongly featuring Don Most's Ralph Malph character) plus the finale, "Passages"), the 11th season is arguably forgotten as a return to deeper storylines, stronger writing, and poignant moments.

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. 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 initial 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 new version).

The show's closing theme song in season 1 & 2 was "Happy Days," written by Charles Fox and Norman Gimbel. According to SAG, this version was performed by Jimmy Haas (lead vocal), Ron Hicklin, Stan Farber, Jerry Whitman and Gary Garrett (backing vocals), plus studio musicians.

From seasons 3-10, this 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.

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).

Production & scheduling

  • Jerry Paris, who co-starred 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").
  • Happy Days became one of the first series to have early seasons in syndication while the series itself was still producing new episodes (a common practice with long-running shows today). Until the show went out of production, most syndicated versions carried the title Happy Days Again.
  • 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. However, he was named president of ABC in 1975, and so was given the task of saving Happy Days during its third season (which saw a rapid increase in ratings). This explains Happy Days appearing in the Top 20 for the 1973-74 and 1975-76 seasons, but being completely absent from the Top 20 in 1974-75.
  • Happy Days still remains one of ABC's longest-running sitcoms (11 seasons), and one of the longest-running prime time 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. The network has not had an entertainment series that has run consistently in the same slot since.
  • 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 US in the U.K. between 4pm and 5pm GMT, it was shown on Channel 4 between the early 1990s to the early 2000s.


  • 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


DVD releases

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have released the first three seasons of Happy Days on DVD in Region 1. Season 4 will be released on December 9, 2008.

DVD Name Release Date Ep # Additional Information
The Complete First Season August 17 2004 16
  • No extras included

The Second Season April 17 2007 23
  • Rock Around the Clock by Bill Haley & His Comets is replaced with Happy Days (used beginning with Season 3) in the opening credits and end credits.
  • With the exception of four original songs, all other music is replaced with generic music.

The Third Season November 27 2007 24
  • No extras included
  • Music alterations exist

The Fourth Season December 9 2008 25
  • No extras included
  • Music alterations exist


Happy Days, itself considered a spin-off from Love, American Style, spun off more than four different series; Laverne & Shirley, Blansky's Beauties, Mork and Mindy, Out of the Blue, and Joanie Loves Chachi.

  • The most successful of these spin-offs, Laverne & Shirley (starring Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams, respectively), also took place in early/mid 1960s Milwaukee, though the two starring characters eventually moved to Los Angeles in the show’s latter 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, Mork the alien from planet Ork landed in 1970s Boulder, Colorado, to study humans.
  • 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. Two myths arose around the series in recent years. The first involves the series' popularity in Korea, as "Chachi" is slang for “penis”. The other 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. 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)

Animated spin-offs

There are two animated series. One was produced by Hanna-Barbera entitled The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang which ran from 1980-1982. There are also animated spin-offs of Laverne & Shirley and Mork and Mindy. Another is The Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982).


  • Happy Days is one of seven successful sitcoms to carry the tradition of being produced two decades later than the setting of the show. Happy Days takes place in the 1950s but began production in the 1970s, as did M*A*S*H. Other shows include Hogan's Heroes and McHale's Navy, both of which began production in the 1960s but depict the 1940s, The Wonder Years which began production in the 1980s but depicts the 1960s, That '70s Show which began production in the 1990s but depicts the 1970s and Everybody Hates Chris which began production in the 2000s but depicts the 1980s. The short-lived sitcom Do Over was also made in the 2000s and set in the 1980s. The same goes for the also short-lived That '80s Show (2002), by the same producers as That '70s Show, which took place nearly twenty years earlier.
  • Marion Ross and Tom Bosley, stars of Happy Days, both made guest appearances on That 70's Show, Ross during season one and Bosley during season eight.
  • Marion Ross made a guest appearance on Night Court as woman who confuses television programmes with reality, and notes her fondness for Fonzie.
  • In Downtown Milwaukee, the City erected a Bronze Statue of Fonzie on August 19, 2008. Also, on that day, Anson Williams, Who was Potsie on the Show, Sang the National Anthem at the Milwaukee Brewers Game at Miller Park.
  • Anson Williams' performance of "Pump Your Blood", performed when Potsie was memorising the human cardiovascular system for a university examination, was revived in a commercial advertisement for St. Joseph's asprin.

Pop Culture References

  • In 1993, the band Weezer recorded a music video for their song Buddy Holly, which featured the band playing on the original Arnold’s Drive-In set mixed with footage from the series. The video begins with the band being introduced by Al Molinaro as Al Delvecchio, who announces: “Arnold’s is proud to present Kenosha, Wisconsin’s own Weezer!” The video featured footage from Happy Days episode #42 ("Fearless Fonzarelli" Part 1), #53 ("They Call It Potsie Love") and #70 ("They Shoot Fonzies, Don't They?"), as well as several other episodes. This video was included on the Microsoft Windows 95 installation CD-ROM as a demonstration of the new OS's multimedia capabilities. It also boosted the career of highly-acclaimed Academy-Award nominated director Spike Jonze.
  • In the hit Disney show That's So Raven, a show called Better Days is featured in an episode. This is a reference to Happy Days. On The Suite Life of Zack and Cody several references are made to the show as well. For example in Going for the Gold Arwin says he should have used a Fonzarelli 5000 instead of a Cunningham 360. In another episode, Moseby asks a guest "Mr. Cunningham, how's your son Richie?"
  • Numerous references to the show were made on the sitcom Friends. In "The Pilot", the character of Rachel Green watches the wedding of Joanie and Chachie. The episode "The One at the Beach", features Joey Tribbiani convincing his friends to play Strip Poker; unable to locate a deck of cards, the friends wind up engaged in a strip version of the Happy Days Game. During Phoebe Buffay’s labor in "The One Hundredth", she is administered by a doctor who is infatuated with “The Fonz” and makes various references to Arthur Fonzerelli and the Happy Days gang.
  • The long running animated comedy The Simpsons has also produced numerous offhand references to the series, many of them coming from Homer Simpson. Homer has confused his high school memories with those of Happy Days, severely injured himself attempting to imitate Fonzie’s ability to start a jukebox, and once even had a personal chance to view Fonzie’s jacket (commenting, “He freed the squares!”). Ron Howard and Henry Winkler have guest starred on the series with allusions made to their Happy Days characters.
  • The animated comedy Family Guy makes frequent references to Happy Days, such as when pudgy patriarch Peter Griffin disguises himself as a high school student, then punches a jukebox in the hopes of turning it on to impress the other students. Instead, he shatters the jukebox's glass display case and badly injures himself. Other episodes call Richie Cunningham's sexuality into question, portray the Fonz as the messiah of a religion devoted to Happy Days, and feature the Fonz appearing as Peter's guardian spirit during a vision quest.
  • In the Altar Egos episode of the sitcom Arrested Development, playing the family lawyer Barry, Henry Winkler reprises the Happy Days opening clip where Fonzie, intending to comb his hair, decides that his hair is fine just as is. In a further nod to Happy Days, Winker's character was succeeded as the Bluth family lawyer by Bob Loblaw, played by Scott Baio. Ron Howard also played a significant role in Arrested Development as the series narrator, and as one of the key producers and even cameos in the very final scene of the series.
  • The soap opera As the World Turns did a mini-spoof of Happy Days titled "Oakdale Happy Days" as a part of their 50th Anniversary celebration on March 30, 2006. Tom Hughes played Howard, Margo Hughes played Marion, Casey Hughes played Richie, Will Munson played Fonzie, Gwen Munson played Laverne, and Maddie Coleman played Shirley.
  • In the episode "Trading Spaces" during Season 6 of Reba, originally aired on November 26, 2006, Van Montgomery (played by Steve Howey), while working in the garage office whose completion is a theme of the episode, tells Kyra Hart (played by Scarlett Pomers), in an effort to get her to get out of his office, "Now why don't you go to the malt shop and hang out with Potsie and Ralph?"
  • The song "White and Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic makes a reference to the Happy Days theme song as being a favorite among stereotypical nerds. The show had popularized usage of the term nerd.
  • The film Pulp Fiction features references to Happy Days in the dialogue of Samuel L. Jackson's character Jules.
  • The third series of British comedy show Bo' Selecta! features a sketch entitled Crappy Days, in which the cast of Happy Days all wear nappies and soil themselves constantly.
  • In 2006 Citroën used the theme tune and characters (with some special effects) in the UK advertisements for their C3 model. The character of Richie is not present, however; Ron Howard would not give his approval.


  • Arthur Fonzarelli was affiliated with a motorcycle gang "The Falcons" although in a Season 1 episode it was mentioned that Fonzie was a former member of "The Demons."
  • Creative differences between Happy Days' producers and ABC helped boost the Fonz's popularity. ABC executives did not want a sympathetic character such as the Fonz to appear in a leather jacket, which they thought would make him appear to be a thug (The Fonz can be seen wearing a white or blue cloth jacket in early episodes). The compromise reached with the producers was to decree that Fonzie could only wear it if his motorcycle was in the scene, as a leather jacket is legitimate safety apparel for someone riding a motorcycle. The show's producers responded by placing the motorcycle in all of his scenes, even indoor ones. The leather jacket soon became trademark attire for Fonzie, leading to ABC to relax the Fonz's dress code. The jacket is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Ron Howard guest-starred on an episode of M*A*S*H. Both Happy Days and M*A*S*H are 1970s sitcoms set in the 1950s. Although Howard wanted to concentrate on films, and was wary of working on another television show, this appearance changed his mind and led to his accepting the Richie Cunningham role in the Happy Days pilot.
  • The cast was well known for playing practical jokes on one another. In one famous outtake, Fonzie is with Richie in Al's Diner. The script called for him to turn around, snap his fingers, and all the women in the diner are supposed to rush longingly to his side. Instead, as part of a joke on Henry Winkler, when he turns around and snaps his fingers, it is the men who rush longingly to his side. Without missing a beat, Winkler as Fonzie puts his arms around two of the men, and proudly soldiers on.
  • Linda Purl played two different roles: Richie's occasional girlfriend Gloria in the second year of the show, and Fonzie's steady girlfriend Ashley eight season later.
  • Micky Dolenz of the Monkees auditioned for the role of Fonzie.
  • Former Paramount Parks, Kings Dominion and Paramount's Carowinds, opened a Happy Day's Diner to replace the Stan Mikita's Diner, a part of the Wayne's World section of the parks.
  • Oi! Punk band, Darkbuster wrote a tribute song to Happy Days, on their album 22 Songs You'll Never Want To Hear Again!.
  • Despite co-starring on ABC's "Happy Days" for eight years, from 1977 to 1984, Scott Baio did not participate in the February 25, 2008 Happy Days reunion interview conducted by Matt Lauer on the The Today Show.
  • In the song "White And Nerdy" by Weird Al Yankovic, alfred(the character) says, "Happy Days is my favourite theme song", supposedly stereotyping happy days as something whites and nerds watch.


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