WATCH: ‘Happy Days’ Icon Marian Ross Surprised with Road Trip on Her 93rd Birthday

by Michael Freeman

Happy Days icon Marian Ross played a doting wife and mother who took care of her family above all else. It seems her real-life children wanted to do the same and surprised her with a road trip for her 93rd birthday.

Visiting the Tarzana fire department in California, the place held a special kind of significance for Marian Ross. Her son and daughter informed her they’d be going there because there’s “an opportunity to do a little shot with” her. Ross can hardly hold in her excitement, claiming she’s still “trying to keep interested” in everything that’s going on in the world at 93-years-old. Luckily for us, her children filmed the whole thing.

The opportunity her son, Jim Meskimen, is referring to happens to deal with the department’s fire engine. Upon reaching the station, the reasons become clear. The engine they run into has “T93” on the front, which just so happens to coincide with Ross’ age. The firefighters are all for it, joking for her 94th birthday they’ll have to travel to southern Los Angeles.

Pulling the firefighters in for a picture, Ross appears to be having the time of her life. For their final shots, the kids have Ross pose in front of a giant “93” on a fence. Laughing as the camera fades out, it’s safe to say she enjoyed herself.

Marion Ross Reveals How Her Character Received Her Name

It’s difficult to imagine Happy Days without Marion Ross being present. Forming the backbone of the Cunningham family, her absence would have been notable. However, according to her, the part was so minimal at first the character didn’t even have a name.

In a Hallmark Channel interview with costars Anson Williams and Don Most, Ross revealed interesting facts about the show. For instance, her role was so small initially the character was nameless.

“Well, my part was so minimal at first,” Ross began. “It was like ‘Oh Howard.’ ‘Oh gee, you’re not eating.’ A writer said, ‘Well, what do we call you? Oh, we’ll just call you Marion. Is that OK, Marion?’”

As time progressed, it was like naming her character gave the writers the incentive to explore her more.

“When we had the read-through around the table, they would say, ‘Marion, read these parts, this part, this part,’” Ross said. “So I would read these parts. I’m trying out. They would snap around and go ‘OK.’ They would start to write for me better and better.”

Ross continued to play Marion Cunningham for the duration of Happy Days. With the way the character ended up, you never would have guessed they simply used Ross’ first name and slapped “Cunningham” onto the end. In the end, it just shows how capably she played the role.