Pop Culture | TV | 80s
10 'Happy Days' Facts That Will Make You Say 'Ayyy'
For 11 seasons, Happy Days brought smiles to television screens across the nation.
The sitcom followed the Cunninghams, a middle-class family, and their trials and tribulations in Milwaukee, set in the mid-50s era. It became one of the biggest hits in television history, and is still iconic to this day.
From 1974 to 1984, Happy Days helped revolutionize TV programming, while teaching the nation valuable life lessons and giving plenty of laughs.
If you're curious about what went behind the scenes of your favorite series, here are 10 facts that will make you join Fonzie in saying "ayyy."
1. Happy Days almost had a different title
Before producer Carl Kleinschmitt came up with the title, Happy Days, show creators wanted to name the series Cool. However, a test audience said it reminded them of cigarettes, and the original name was scrapped.
Kleinschmitt came up with the new name and said, “How about calling it Happy Days? That’s what we’re going to show.”
2. The series was supposed to be set in the 1920s
While we can't picture Happy Days set in any other era, Paramount executives wanted creator Gary Marshall's sitcom set in the 1920s or 30s. Marshall we rebuked the idea and said he knew nothing about those decades, but had a good grasp of the 1950s.
His initial pilot wasn't picked up, but Happy Days quickly followed.
3. There was a short-lived, animated spin off of Happy Days
When the show was at its height of popularity, show creators decided to make an animated spin off series titled Fonz and the Happy Days Gang. It was a science fiction comedy, and was only on air for two seasons.
4. Ron Howard joined the cast to avoid being conscripted into the Vietnam War
After appearing on hit shows like, The Andy Griffith Show and The Smith Family, Ron Howard wanted to take a break from acting, and go to college to become a director. Unfortunately, this was during the time of the Vietnam War and he had a low draft number.
Since conscription no longer omitted student deferments to college students, he decided to get a work deferment, thus joining the Happy Days cast.
5. Anson Williams sang the songs on the jukebox
Instead of paying royalties to acquire hits from the 1950s, producers decided to get free tunes from Anson Williams after hearing him sing. His musical talents were even written into the script.
6. Henry Winkler Struggled to read the script for his audition
Since Winkler wasn't diagnosed with dyslexia until he was 31-years-old, not many people knew he had trouble reading. When Winkler went to his audition, he made up his lines, and told producers while he would read from the script if he was cast, he ad-libbed to show them the essence of his character.
7. He couldn't ride a motorcycle either
While the Fonz loved his motorcycle, Winkler did not. In fact, he was terrified of his hot wheels, and every scene that involved him riding his motorcycle, Winkler would actually just sit on a stationary bike attached to a moving truck.
8. In the beginning, the Fonz wasn't allowed to wear his iconic leather jacket
When Fonzie first appeared on the show, he would wear a grey windbreaker instead of his famous leather jacket. ABC executives thought a leather jacket would make him appear as a hoodlum, but Marshall got them to compromise. He convinced the executives leather jackets were safer when riding motorcycles, and they agreed.
Marshall then found a loophole and told the show's writers to put a motorcycle into every one of Fonzie's scenes. Eventually the Fonz's became the show's most popular character and was allowed to wear it all the time.
9. Monkee's drummer Micky Dolenz was a front runner to play the Fonz
Micky Dolenz - who was most famously known as the drummer for the Monkees - had auditioned to play Arthur Fonzarelli. Apparently Dolenz nailed the part, but was deemed too tall compared to the rest of the cast.
10. Robin Williams had his big break on the show
Before he landed the role of the alien, Mork from Ork, Robin Williams had been a busker on the street. Marshall's sister suggested Williams, and he called him in to read for the part.
When Williams went to audition, he was asked to take a seat, he decided to rest his head down on the chair instead of sitting in it. He was cast on the spot.
What's your favorite fact about Happy Days?