‘Happy Days’: How Did Potsie Get His Nickname?

by Josh Lanier

It’s one of the deeper cuts in the Happy Days lore. How did Warren Weber become known as Potsie?

Hosts of the Media Path Podcast put the question to Marion Ross, who played Richie’s mom Marion Cunningham on Happy Days earlier this month. Ross — who looks phenomenal at 93 — went on to discuss her book My Days Happy or Otherwise, tell on behind-the-scenes stories from the show, and explain how she found success in Hollywood. But this is about Potsie.

Potsie was a frequent guest at the Cunningham home. Marion made meals for the boys several times during the show’s run. Surely, she knows how Warren Weber got his nickname. She must have been too busy with The Fonz because she had no idea. But she did hazard a guess — because it’s better than his birth name.

“You can’t call somebody Warren,” she said to big laughs. Warrens Beatty, Harding, and Buffett, you have our deepest sympathies.

It makes sense she wouldn’t know the answer. Aside from the show being 40 more than years old, Potsie only explained the origin of his nickname once back in the first season of Happy Days.

“They call me Potsie because when I was a young boy, I used to like to make things with clay, and one day my mother called me Potsie,” he explained in “The Deadly Dares.”

Ross also whiffed on Fonzie’s middle name — Herbert — and what her character studied in college — archeology.

Marion Ross Always Knew Ron Howard Would Be Major Filmmaker

Ron Howard was a star long before he joined the cast of Happy Days. He became a television icon as Opie on The Andy Griffith Show. We often hear horror stories about egomaniacal child actors making life miserable for their co-stars, but Marion Ross said Howard was always kind, caring, and contemplative.

He was so normal that it was noteworthy, she said. Ross chalked that up to his parents, who were also actors, who instilled a sense of hard work and humility into their boys. That upbringing is why Ross said she knew Howard would become a great director.

“I always did,” Marion Ross said when asked about seeing his potential. “I always (knew) that kid was sitting there, loaded with talent.”

Ron Howard began his career as a director while still acting on Happy Days. His first movie behind the camera was Grand Theft Auto in 1977. Since then, he’s directed major Hollywood blockbusters, comedies, and thoughtful dramas. He brought home a Best Picture and a Best Director Oscar for A Beautiful Mind in 2002. The Academy nominated him for two more in 2009 Frost/Nixon.

Through it all, Ross said, Howard kept his sense of humility.

“He didn’t want to be a showoff in any way,” she said. “He wanted to be a filmmaker. When you think of all his big films that he’s done, and he’s still just such a wonderful man.”