‘Happy Days’: Ron Howard Saved the Show From Getting a New Name During Season Three

by Taylor Cunningham

Apparently, Happy Days almost got a new name mid-run. But Ron Howard refused to comply.

In 1975, the iconic series was nearly in its prime, and Fonzie-mania had started to take over the nation. The cool-talking greaser had won the heart of viewers with his long list of catchphrases. And fans religiously tuned in just to follow the character’s wholesome antics.

“We had done two seasons,” Howard shared on Rob Lowe’s podcast, Literally. “Henry had exploded in the character and it really was, that thing had set in. It would take another year or two to really peak but it was happening.”

So with all of the attention the Fonz was getting, the series wanted to capitalize on the craze.

As Howard said, Good Times was a heavy competitor that year. The show was starting to overtake Happy Days in ratings. And producers thought Jimmie “J.J.” Walker’s catchphrase “Dy-no-mite” was winning over their audiences.

But a new executive producer thought that Winkler’s character was more quotable and lovable than J.J., and he intended to prove it.

‘Happy Days’ Almost Became ‘Fonzie’s Happy Days’

And with that sentiment, that same producer suggested that creator Garry Marshall should rename the series to showcase the fan-favorite character.

According to Howard, the producer not only blasted fans with Fonzie’s cool “whoa” in an attempt to overtake ” dy-no-mite,” but he also “wanted to go all the way to call the show Fonzie’s Happy Days.”

Feeling like a supporting actor in his own show, Ron Howard refused to allow the change.

“I declined to cooperate with that,” he admitted. So thanks to his stubbornness, the series name remained the same.

And despite leaving the title intact, Happy Days still managed to take over Good Times. By 1976, the series become the top-rated sitcom in the world.

Luckily, neither Howard nor Winkler was a diva. So the competition didn’t create a rift between the actors. In fact, Howard admired his co-star’s pop-culture takeover.

“From day one, he was inventing and owning that character and they just said, ‘Hey, we know how to write for this guy,’ and they went for it,” he continued.

But while Winkler’s success never bothered the Oscar-winning director, he was upset with other people on the Happy Days set.

“I was annoyed by the way higher-ups then dealt with me and responded to me,” he said while explaining how Fonzie had become the series lead.

And though Ron Howard spent most of his Happy Days years in Winkler’s shadow, the two managed to build a lasting friendship.

To this day, the two are still best friends. And Henry Winkler is the godfather to all four of Ron Howard’s children.