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Happy Days

Happy Days is also the name of a play by Samuel Beckett. See Happy Days (play).

Happy Days was a popular United States television sitcom that originally aired between 1974 and 1984 on the ABC television network. It showed an idealized window on life in 1950s and early-mid 1960s America. It revolved around the lives of its principal characters: high school student Richie Cunningham (played by Ron Howard) and his parents Howard and Marion Cunningham (played by (Tom Bosley and Marion Ross), Arthur "Fonzie" / "the Fonz" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), Ralph Malph (Don Most ), Warren "Potsie" Weber (Anson Williams ), Al the diner cook (Al Molinaro , who succeeded Pat Morita as Arnold), and as time went by, various other relations and their girlfriends, including, most notably, a recurring role for Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero.

The show underwent several changes over the years, two of which have resulted in new phrases entering the lexicon of TV. There was originally an older Cunningham brother, Chuck, who went away to college and disappeared from the show. His disappearance is often referred to as Chuck Cunningham syndrome. Fonzie, perhaps best described as a hood with a heart of gold, was originally a minor character, but the show focused increasingly on him over time, culminating in an episode that spawned the term "Jumping the shark".

Happy Days was entertaining for not being totally comedic. It often developed storylines from timeless human conditions such as friendship, courage, sacrifice, love, loyalty, etc. Its characters not only dreamed of growth but succeeded despite their limitations. They also knew failure and loss. Many viewers found the characters easy to relate to.

The show originated during a period of 1950s nostalgia in film, television, and music. It began as an unsold pilot called "Love and the Happy Days" on the TV anthology series Love, American Style. Then, in 1973, George Lucas released a film with a similar theme, American Graffiti (co-starring, in a twist of irony, Ron Howard and Cindy Williams). The success of the film caused series creator Garry Marshall and ABC to reconsider the unsold pilot and make Happy Days as a series.

Happy Days also spun off five different live-action series: Laverne and Shirley, Blansky's Beauties , Mork & Mindy, Out of the Blue , Joanie Loves Chachi and the animated series Fonz and the Happy Days Gang and Laverne and Shirley in the Army. The most successful of these, Laverne and Shirley, co-starring Cindy Williams and Penny Marshall, also took place in 1950s Milwaukee. Joanie Loves Chachi was a short-lived show about Richie's younger sister Joanie (Erin Moran ) and Fonzie's younger cousin Chachi (Scott Baio). Robin Williams made his first appearance as "Mork" on Happy Days.

Ron Howard, who had starred as a child actor in The Andy Griffith Show, went on to direct several critically acclaimed films, including Apollo 13 and A Beautiful Mind. Tom Bosley (Richie's father) continued acting and appeared in other sitcoms.

Early seasons of the series used a specially recorded version of "Rock Around the Clock" by Bill Haley and His Comets as the opening theme song. This recording, as of summer 2004, has never been commercially released, although the original 1954 recording returned to the American Billboard charts in 1974 as a result of its use on the show. Eventually, the show's closing theme song, "Happy Days", became a major hit in its own right and replaced "Rock Around the Clock" at the beginning of the show.

Happy Days became one of the first series to have earlier seasons syndicated while the series itself was still producing new episodes (a common practice with long-running shows today). For a time, the syndicated version carried the title Happy Days Again.

The first season of the series was released on DVD in August 2004.

Last updated: 02-07-2005 05:27:43
Last updated: 03-02-2005 13:07:19