Happy Days
Happy-days.jpg
Also known asHappy Days Again
GenreSitcom
Created byGarry Marshall
Starring
Theme music composerMax C. Freedman and James E. Myers (1974–75, opening)
Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox (1975–83, opening), (1974–84, ending)
Opening theme"Rock Around the Clock", performed by Bill Haley & His Comets (1974–75)
"Happy Days", performed by: The Ron Hicklin Singers (1975–83),
Bobby Arvon (1983–84)
Ending theme"Happy Days", performed by:
Jim Haas (1974–75),
The Ron Hicklin Singers (1975–83),
Bobby Arvon (1983–84)
Composers
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons11
No. of episodes255 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producers
Producers
Camera setupSingle-camera (1974–75)
Multi-camera (1975–84)
Running time25 minutes
Production companies
DistributorCBS Television Distribution
Release
Original networkABC
Picture format35mm film
Audio formatMonaural
Original releaseJanuary 15, 1974 (1974-01-15) –
July 19, 1984 (1984-07-19)
Chronology
Preceded byLove, American Style
Related

Happy Days is an American television sitcom that aired first-run on the ABC network from January 15, 1974, to July 19, 1984, with a total of 255 half-hour episodes spanning 11 seasons. Created by Garry Marshall, it was one of the most successful series of the 1970s. The series presented an idealized vision of life in the 1950s and early 1960s Midwestern United States, and it starred Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham, Henry Winkler as his friend Fonzie, and Tom Bosley and Marion Ross as Richie's parents, Howard and Marion Cunningham.[1] Although it opened to mixed reviews from critics, Happy Days became successful and popular over time.[2]

The series began as an unsold pilot starring Howard, Ross and Anson Williams, which aired in 1972 as a segment titled "Love and the Television Set" (later retitled "Love and the Happy Days" for syndication) on ABC's anthology show Love, American Style. Based on the pilot, director George Lucas cast Howard as the lead in his 1973 film American Graffiti, causing ABC to take a renewed interest in the pilot. The first two seasons of Happy Days focused on the experiences and dilemmas of "innocent teenager" Richie Cunningham, his family, and his high school friends, attempting to "honestly depict a wistful look back at adolescence".[2]

Initially a moderate success, the series' ratings began to fall during its second season, causing Marshall to retool it. The new format emphasized broad comedy and spotlighted the previously minor character of Fonzie, a "cool" biker and high school dropout.[2] Following these changes, Happy Days became the number-one program in television in 1976–1977, Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s, and Henry Winkler became a major star.[3][4] The series also spawned a number of spin-offs, including Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.

Plot

Set in Milwaukee, Wisconsin during the 1950s, the series revolves around teenager Richie Cunningham and his family: his father, Howard, who owns a hardware store; traditional homemaker and mother, Marion; younger sister Joanie Cunningham; Richie's older brother Chuck (briefly in seasons 1 and 2 only, disappearing from storylines afterward); and high school dropout, leather jacket clad greaser, mechanic and suave ladies' man Fonzie, who would eventually become Richie's best friend and the Cunninghams' over-the-garage tenant. The earliest episodes revolve around Richie and his friends, Potsie Weber and Ralph Malph, with Fonzie as a secondary character. However, as the series progressed, Fonzie proved to be a favorite with viewers, and soon more story lines were written to reflect his growing popularity; Winkler was top billed in the opening credits alongside Howard, by season 3.[5] Fonzie befriended Richie and the Cunningham family and, when Richie left the series for military service, Fonzie became the central figure of the show, with Winkler receiving sole top billing. In later seasons, other characters were introduced including Fonzie's young cousin, Chachi Arcola, who became a love interest for Joanie Cunningham.

The series' pilot was originally shown as Love and the Television Set, later retitled Love and the Happy Days for syndication, a one-episode teleplay on the anthology series Love, American Style, aired on February 25, 1972. Happy Days spawned successful television shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy as well as three failures, Joanie Loves Chachi, Blansky's Beauties featuring Nancy Walker as Howard's cousin,[6] and Out of the Blue. 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 was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History.[7] The original, light grey McGregor windbreaker Winkler wore during the first season was eventually thrown into the garbage, after ABC relented and allowed the Fonzie character to wear a leather jacket.

Episodes

Main article: List of Happy Days episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally airedRankRating
First airedLast aired
116January 15, 1974 (1974-01-15)May 7, 1974 (1974-05-07)1621.5
223September 10, 1974 (1974-09-10)May 6, 1975 (1975-05-06)4917.5[a]
324September 9, 1975 (1975-09-09)March 2, 1976 (1976-03-02)1123.9
425September 21, 1976 (1976-09-21)March 29, 1977 (1977-03-29)131.5
527September 13, 1977 (1977-09-13)May 30, 1978 (1978-05-30)231.4
627September 5, 1978 (1978-09-05)May 15, 1979 (1979-05-15)428.5[b]
725September 11, 1979 (1979-09-11)May 6, 1980 (1980-05-06)1721.7
822November 11, 1980 (1980-11-11)May 26, 1981 (1981-05-26)1520.8[c]
922October 6, 1981 (1981-10-06)March 23, 1982 (1982-03-23)1820.6
1022September 28, 1982 (1982-09-28)March 22, 1983 (1983-03-22)2817.4[d]
1122September 27, 1983 (1983-09-27)July 19, 1984 (1984-07-19)[e]6313.9[8]

Cast

Actor Character Seasons
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Ep
Ron Howard Richie Cunningham Main Guest 170
Anson Williams Potsie Weber Main 211
Marion Ross Marion Cunningham Main 252
Tom Bosley Howard Cunningham Main 255
Henry Winkler Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli Recurring Main 255
Don Most Ralph Malph Recurring Main Guest 168
Erin Moran Joanie Cunningham Recurring Main Recurring Main 234
Al Molinaro Al Delvecchio Recurring Main Guest 145
Scott Baio Chachi Arcola Recurring Main Recurring Main 131
Lynda Goodfriend Lori Beth Cunningham Recurring Main Guest 66
Cathy Silvers Jenny Piccolo Recurring Main Guest 55
Ted McGinley Roger Phillips Recurring Main 61
Linda Purl Ashley Pfister Main 19
Heather O'Rourke Heather Pfister Recurring 12
  Main
  Recurring
  Guest

Characters

Main

Minor/recurring

Notable guest stars

Production

This section needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (March 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

Happy Days originated during a time of 1950s nostalgic interest as evident in 1970s film, television, and music. In late winter of 1971, Michael Eisner was snowed in at Newark airport where he bumped into Tom Miller, head of development at Paramount. Eisner has stated that he told Miller, "Tom, this is ridiculous. We're wasting our time here. Let's write a show." The script treatment that came out of that did not sell. But in spite of the market research department telling them that the 1950s theme would not work, they decided to redo it, and this was accepted as a pilot.[24] This unsold pilot was filmed in late 1971 and titled 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 Television Set (later retitled Love and the Happy Days for syndication), for presentation on the television anthology series Love, American Style.[25] Also in 1971, the musical Grease had a successful opening in Chicago, and by the following year became successful on Broadway. Also 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 pre-production. Lucas immediately cast Howard in the film, which became one of the top-grossing films of 1973. With the movie's success generating a renewed interest in the 1950s era (although, the film was set in 1962), TV 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.[26]

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.[27] Bosley was then offered the role.

Production and scheduling notes

Production styles

The first two seasons of Happy Days (1974–75) were filmed using a single-camera setup and laugh track. One episode of season two ("Fonzie Gets Married") was filmed in front of a studio audience with three cameras as a test run. From the third season on (1975–84), the show was a three-camera production in front of a live audience (with a cast member, usually Tom Bosley, announcing in voice-over, "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.

Garry Marshall's earlier television series The Odd Couple had undergone an identical change in production style after its first season in 1970–71.

Sets

Richie and Fonzie view his destroyed motorcycle in his living room, 1976. Fonzie's apartment was over the Cunninghams' garage.
Richie and Fonzie view his destroyed motorcycle in his living room, 1976. Fonzie's apartment was over the Cunninghams' garage.

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

In seasons one and two, the Cunningham house was arranged with the front door on the left and the kitchen on the right of screen, in a triangular arrangement. From season three on, the house was rearranged to accommodate multiple cameras and a studio audience.

The Cunninghams' official address is 565 North Clinton Drive, Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[30] 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,[31] 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 upstaged 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.

Potsie, Richie, Fonzie, and Ralph Malph at Arnold's, 1975
Potsie, Richie, Fonzie, and Ralph Malph at Arnold's, 1975

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.

In a two-part episode from the seventh season, the original Arnold's Drive-In was written out of the series as being destroyed by fire (see List of Happy Days episodes, episodes 159 and 160). In the last seasons that covered the 1960s timeline, a new Arnold's Drive-In set (to portray the new Arnold's that replaced the original Arnold's destroyed by the fire) emerged in a 1960s decor with wood paneling and stained glass. Also, in seasons 8 and 9, the new drive-in was named "Fonzie & Big Al" because Fonzie and Al co-owned the new establishment in a partnership.

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.[32]

Theme music

Main article: Happy Days (TV theme)

Season one 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 the song's 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.) In some prints intended for reruns and overseas broadcasts, as well as on the Season 2 DVD set release and later re-releases of the Season 1 DVD set, the original "Rock Around the Clock" opening theme is replaced by the more standard "Happy Days" theme, because of music rights issues.

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

From seasons three to ten 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 at No. 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 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).

Merchandising revenue lawsuit

On April 19, 2011, Happy Days co-stars Erin Moran, Don Most, Marion Ross and Anson Williams, as well as the estate of 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.[33] 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 5% of 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.[34] 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.[35] 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.[36] 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.[37][38]

Legacy

In 1978, actor Robin Williams made his screen debut during the fifth season of Happy Days, as the character "Mork" in the episode "My Favorite Orkan."[39] Sought after as a last-minute cast replacement for a departing actor, Williams impressed the producer with his quirky sense of humor when he sat on his head when asked to take a seat for the audition.[40][41] While portraying Mork on Happy Days, Williams improvised much of his dialogue and physical comedy, speaking in a high, nasal voice, and he made the most of the script. The cast and crew, as well as TV network executives were deeply impressed with his performance. As such, the executives moved quickly to get the performer on contract just four days later before competitors could make their own offers.[42]

In 1980, the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution asked Henry Winkler to donate one of Fonzie's leather jackets.[43][44][45]

In 1985, Jon Hein developed the phrase jumping the shark in response to an episode of Happy Days, (Season 5, Episode 91) called "Hollywood: Part 3, written by Fred Fox, Jr.[46] which aired on September 20, 1977. In this episode, Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis.[47][48][49] The phrase is used to suggest that a creative outlet appears to be making a misguided attempt at generating new attention or publicity for something that is perceived to be once, but no longer, widely popular.[50][51] In a 2019 interview with NPR, Terry Gross asked Henry Winkler (Fonzie) what it was "about that scene or that episode that came to signify when something's time is up - when it's over?" Winkler responded: "You know what? I don't know. To them, the Fonz water skiing was just like the last straw. The only thing is it wasn't to the audience because we were No. 1 for years after that. So it didn't much matter to anybody."[52] In addition, he told TheWrap in 2018 that he is "not embarrassed" by the phrase. He stated that "newspapers would mention jumping the shark...and they would show a picture of me in my leather jacket and swim shorts water-skiing. And at that time I had great legs. So I thought, ‘I don't care.’ And we were No. 1 for the next four or five years."[53] As his character Barry Zuckerkorn (in the sitcom Arrested Development) hopped over a shark in Episode 13 of the second season, Winkler also noted that there "was a book, there was a board game and it is an expression that is still used today ... [and] I'm very proud that I am the only actor, maybe in the world, that has jumped the shark twice — once on Happy Days, and once on Arrested Development.”[53]

In 1999 TV Guide ranked Fonzie as number 4 on its 50 Greatest TV Characters of All Time list.[54]

In a 2001 poll conducted by Channel 4 in the UK, the Fonz was ranked 13th on their list of the 100 Greatest TV Characters.[55]

In 2008, American artist Gerald P. Sawyer, unveiled the Bronze Fonz (a public artwork) on the Milwaukee Riverwalk in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin.[56]

Home media

Paramount Home Entertainment and CBS DVD have released the first six seasons of Happy Days on DVD in Region 1, as of December 2, 2014.[57] For the second season, CBS features music replacements due to copyright issues, including the theme song "Rock Around the Clock". ('The Complete First Season' retains the original opening, as it was released before CBS was involved.) Only season 3 and 4 of the DVD release contain the original music.[58] The sixth season was released on December 2, 2014.[59] It is unknown if the remaining 5 seasons will be released.

The season 7 premiere "Shotgun Wedding: Part 1" was also released on the Laverne & Shirley season 5 DVD. To date, this is the last episode released on home media.

Seasons 1 to 4 have also been released on DVD in the UK and in regions 2 and 4.

DVD name No. of
episodes
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
The Fifth Season 26 May 20, 2014
The Sixth Season 27 December 2, 2014

Reunion specials

There have been two reunion specials which aired on ABC: the first was The Happy Days Reunion Special originally aired in March 1992, followed by Happy Days: 30th Anniversary Reunion in February 2005 to commemorate the program's 30th anniversary. Both were set up in interview/clip format.

Spin-offs

Happy Days 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 The Fonz (animated).

Spin-off pilots that did not succeed include The Ralph and Potsie Show as well as The Pinky Tuscadero Show.[60]

In other media

Books

A series of novels based on characters and dialog of the series was written by William Johnston and published by Tempo Books in the 1970s.

Comic books

Western Publishing published a Happy Days comic book series in 1979 under their Gold Key Comics brand and Whitman Comics brand.

Animation

There are two animated series, both 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 to 1982. There are also animated spin-offs of Laverne & Shirley (Laverne & Shirley in the Army) and Mork & Mindy (centering on a young Mork and Mindy in high school). The following season, they were connected together as Mork & Mindy/Laverne & Shirley/Fonz Hour (1982).[61]

Musicals

In the late 1990s, a touring arena show called Happy Days: The Arena Spectacular toured Australia's major cities.[62] The story featured a property developer, and former girlfriend of Fonzie's, 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.[63][64]

Music videos

The music video for the song Buddy Holly (which takes place at Arnold's Drive-in) by Weezer features footage from the series, including clips of Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie, and Fonzie.[65] Al Molinaro also reprises his role as Al Delvecchio in the video, joking about how bad his fish is at the beginning and end of the video.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Tied with Petrocelli
  2. ^ Tied with Mork & Mindy
  3. ^ Tied with Too Close for Comfort
  4. ^ Tied with Little House: A New Beginning
  5. ^ A broadcast date of September 24, 1984, for Fonzie's Spots has not been verified.

References

  1. ^ a b "Happy Days Actor Tom Bosley Dies". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c VanDerWerff, Emily (August 27, 2012). "Happy Days became one of the biggest hits on TV by selling its soul". The A.V. Club. Archived from the original on August 9, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2020.
  3. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows 1946 – Present (9th ed.). New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 580–582. ISBN 9780307483201.
  4. ^ Crupi, Anthony (May 2017). "Happy Days for broadcasters* *as long as they're selling sports". adage.com. Advertising Age. Retrieved June 12, 2017.
  5. ^ Haithman, Diane (January 4, 1991). "Is Uncool Urkel the '90s Answer to the Fonz?". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 7, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  6. ^ "Blansky's Beauties". TV.com. Retrieved April 27, 2012.
  7. ^ "How Now, Mr. Fonzarelli?". People Magazine. Retrieved October 20, 2010.
  8. ^ 1983–84 Ratings History TV Ratings Guide
  9. ^ "Happy Days Episode Guide 1981 Season 8- R.C. and L.B. Forever, Episode 19". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  10. ^ "Happy Days Episodes- Happy Days Full Episode Guides from Season 11 on ABC". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  11. ^ King, Susan (October 7, 2009). "Marion Ross on 'Happy Days' and today". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 19, 2010.[better source needed]
  12. ^ "Happy Days Episode Guide 1977 Season 4- Marion Rebels". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  13. ^ "Happy Days Episodes- Happy Days Full Episode Guides from Season 10 on ABC". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  14. ^ "Happy Days Episode- Happy Days Full Episode Guides from Season 10 on ABC". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  15. ^ "Happy Days Episode Guide 1983 Season 10- Turn Around...and You're Home". tvguide.com. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  16. ^ a b "Bob Brunner, 'Happy Days' writer, dies". Variety. November 8, 2012. Retrieved November 27, 2012.
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    Note: Eisner states that snowstorm happened when his son was three months old. Breck Eisner was born on December 24, 1970, so this means that the first treatment was written in late winter of 1970 (~March or April).
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