“Happy Days” is a show that ran in syndication for decades following its last episode in 1984, even though it debuted on television more than 40 years ago. The 50s throwback show launched the careers of many famous stars including actor-turned-director Ron Howard, Henry Winkler, and Scott Baio, just to name a few. During a time when our nation was polarized by politics, the sitcom drew in a large audience for its nostalgic, wholesome narrative-driven episodes which reflected on the innocent times of yesteryear.
Although the show was known for its simpler storylines, there are a few cool secrets that would surprise the average fan. Starting with …
12. Longest Running Sitcom
In terms of longevity, “Happy Days” had this rarity. The show was such a success that it lasted for 11 seasons, which is virtually unheard of even in today’s era of television. In fact, it still holds the record for being one of ABC’s longest running sitcoms. How’s that for having legs?
11. Title Change
Can you imagine the sitcom being called “Cool”? Neither can we! The name of the sitcom is in the show’s theme song, but back before the show aired, the series creator wanted the sitcom to be called “Cool.” The reason why the name was axed is because audiences said the show sounded like a cigarette brand.
Think this is surprising? Head on over to #8.
10. A Familiar Face Sang The Tunes
Ever wonder why the tunes played from the “Happy Days” jukebox sounded so familiar? It’s not just because they were standard hits, but rather a familiar face was singing them. It’s said that Potsie (Anson Williams) sang the songs that came out of the jukebox to save producers the fees for obtaining the copyrighted song. This definitely wouldn’t fly today!
9. Reading Is Cool
The show became such a popular hit that director Gary Marshall was approached to create storylines that supported important causes. Since literacy was down, he was asked to encourage reading. That’s why in one episode, The Fonz takes a trip to the library. As a result, library attendance went up by 500%!
8. The Other Fonz
If there was a character that became a cult icon from the show it was The Fonz, so it might be surprising to hear that actor Henry Winkler almost wasn’t cast as the leather jacket-wearing ladies man. It’s said that The Monkees drummer Micky Dolenz was originally cast as The Fonz, but his height killed it as he was too tall to stand next to co-star Ron Howard.
Think this is a trippy fact? Head on over to slide #5.
7. Ron Howard Was Almost Drafted
Back then, the draft for the Vietnam War was an ongoing problem that caused distress for many people. For actor-turned-director Ron Howard, he agreed to play Richie Cunningham as a way to avoid being drafted for the war. Originally, he wanted to attend USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, but when that wasn’t an option he went to Hollywood, and the rest, as they say, is history.
6. Pat Morita’s Accent Was Fake
In this day and age, all hell would break loose if an actor of color was asked to “pick an accent” for a character, but that’s exactly what Pat Morita was told. Morita speaks fluent English without an accent, but producers thought it might confuse the viewers because of his looks. To remedy this problem, the actor chose a Chinese Pidgin accent.
5. Henry Winkler Couldn’t Read Scripts
As Fonzi, Henry Winkler might have stolen lines and girls regularly, but here’s one thing that may come as a shocker. Winkler couldn’t read the scripts. The actor was diagnosed with dyslexia, a learning disability that can prevent people from reading. To work around his problem, the actor ad-libbed each script.
Think this is a big shocker? Head on over to slide 1.
4. Play Ball!
These days it’s rare to hear that a cast of any show would hang out together off set. The hours are long, everyone is worrying about their families, and egos sometimes run amok, but for the cast of “Happy Days,” it seems as though they all got along. In fact, the cast and crew all played softball together on their days off.
3. Some Cast Members Sued ABC
While it was all love between the cast, some of the actors weren’t happy with how they were being treated. Some decided to sue the network after they missed out on a pretty penny from a merchandising deal. Cast members received $65,000 which was less than the $10 million that they were asking for.
2. John Lennon Was A Fan
“Happy Days” killed in the ratings, so it’s not a huge shock to find out that they had some famous fans. That said, no one expected their biggest fan to be John Lennon. The former Beatles star even dropped by to say hello to the gang. It’s said while he was there he signed autographs for the crew.
1. Fonzi’s Leather Jacket
Can you imagine Fonzi without his leather jacket? Well, he almost didn’t get to wear his signature jacket, which became a character itself. At the time, ABC was focused on their branding and executives were concerned that the leather jacket would send the wrong message to potential viewers. They initially wanted The Fonz to give the thumbs up in a wind breaker before director Gary Marshall insisted on the leather jacket.
We have to admit, “Happy Days” is still pretty innocent when you compare the shenanigans that went on over at other contemporary shows. There were no drug issues, no cast fights, and no arrests, so by comparison, it was a pretty tame set. The show signified a simpler time which was still embraced by audiences in the 70s and 80s. Now that we find ourselves in such difficult times, and with the popularity of reboots, many wonder if that’s in the cards for “Happy Days.” While it doesn’t look likely, anything is possible.
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