‘Happy Days’: Why ‘Rhoda’ Star Harold Gould Was Replaced by Tom Bosley as Mr. Cunningham

by Courtney Blackann

Everybody remembers the lovable Mr. Cunningham portrayed by Tom Bosley on the popular 1970s show “Happy Days.” However, Bosley wasn’t always cast as the funny head of the Cunningham clan. In the pilot episode of the show, Harold Gould, known for “Rhoda” actually portrayed the father figure. But he didn’t end up with the role.

After filming the pilot, “Happy Days” was picked up by ABC. There it would stay, working its way into the hearts of Americans everywhere for 11 seasons. But the role of Mr. Cunningham was offered to Harold Gould – and the actor turned it down.

According to MeTV, the actor was busy with another commitment and was unwilling to turn it down to take a chance on “Happy Days.” Luckily, Tom Bosley stepped in and fulfilled the role. This worked out well for him because it established the actor forever in television history. While Bosley also appeared in numerous television and film productions, Mr. Cunningham defined his career.

Harold Gould, on the other hand, did just as well. He would secure a starring role on “Rhoda” from 1974 to 1978. Following this, he went on to film “The Golden Girls” from 1989 until 1992. He additionally starred in more than 20 films and had several guest-starring roles on TV.

“Happy Days” and Its Legacy

“Happy Days” legacy was set pretty much from the start. The world fell in love with the family characters – notably Ron Howard as Richie Cunningham and Henry Winkler as “The Fonz.” The Garry Marshal creation is something that’s been passed down from generation to generation – boosting the young actors to A-list stardom and launching a storied career for Howard.

In an interview for the BBC, Howard discussed how “Happy Days” helped shape him, despite it being a tough industry.

“I’d been in this rarified world as this kind of kid actor who was a star,” the now-director said. “I did recognize that this is a business and it’s a tough business. And it’s competitive and you have to understand from all perspectives.”

Further, Howard said that the show helped him realize the direction he wanted to go in once he moved forward. The actor said that he knew his dream “was to be in charge of my own productions, my own stories that I wanted to tell and be the filmmaker.”

He went on to say:

“I’m not sure that I would have taken that initiative to the level I needed to finally get to do it,” Howard said.

We all now know that Ron Howard would move on from “Happy Days” and become a phenomenal, well-respected director and producer. The former awkward teen is now one of Hollywood’s biggest names.