‘Happy Days’ Star Ron Howard Revealed His ‘Feelings Were Hurt’ When the Show Focused on Fonzie

by Joe Rutland

When looking back on some of the best classic TV shows in reruns to this day, one of them has to be Happy Days. Ron Howard starred as Richie Cunningham while Henry Winkler played Arthur Fonzarelli, or better known as Fonzie. Would you believe there was a time when Howard thought about leaving the show? It was one of the most popular ones in the 1970s for ABC. Tom Bosley played Howard Cunningham on there. He commented in an interview how much the show played into Paramount Studio’s success.

But this is not about Bosley or the show’s massive success. It turns out that Howard almost left and that his “feelings were hurt.” Why? It was around a possible name change. Yeah, network executives had a different idea about Happy Days. They wanted to make a significant change. It would alter the way it would be presented to millions of fans.

One Man Kept ‘Happy Days’ From Making Significant Change

“They did come to me and said, ‘Well the network would kind of like to change the name of the show to Fonzie’s Happy Days,'” Howard said according to Little Things. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think I wanna be in that show. I wanna be in Happy Days and I think Henry should have, you know, every opportunity to do everything — that’s fantastic — but you know, I signed on for this other thing and I just really don’t wanna do that.'”

Film school would be up next on the plate for Howard, who already had a career thanks to The Andy Griffith Show. Of course, he also starred in the Steven Spielberg movie American Graffiti. For some, there is a belief that his work in the movie would lead Garry Marshall to retool an earlier pilot. It turns out that Howard was a solid fit for Happy Days as Richie. Still, the renaming idea didn’t sit too well with him. Back to this meeting with show producers and executives, though. Howard had more to say and there was one person who actually was not there for this meeting. Guess who?

“The one producer who wasn’t there was Garry Marshall,” Howard said. “In fact, he was standing outside and he said, ‘How’d that go in there?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t wanna upset everybody and disappoint everybody, and I love Henry and I love the show, but I just, I just don’t feel good about that.’ And he said, ‘It’s not gonna happen then.’ And that was that.” As it turned out, Howard would leave before the show finished its run. He would make a guest appearance in the show’s final season on ABC.