‘Happy Days’: One Actor Starred Alongside John Travolta on Broadway

by John Jamison

Appearing in nearly 80 episodes of “Happy Days” from 1977-1984, Lynda Goodfriend became a fixture of the cast during the back half of the show’s run. Her character, Lori Beth, went on to marry Riche Cunningham over the phone. These days Goodfriend works as the chair of the acting department at the New York Film Academy. But early in her career, she had the opportunity to work with legendary actor John Travolta.

Before entering the world of TV sitcoms and earning her role on “Happy Days,” Goodfriend was performing in a different way. She got her career off the ground as a dancer and singer on Broadway.

In a post on the New York Film Academy’s blog, Goodfriend talked about her experience performing on the stage.

“It was everything I’d dreamt of! One of the highlights was to work with a young performer just starting his career as well, John Travolta,” she said.

And funnily enough, it was her performance in a play with John Travolta that first caught the attention of “Happy Days” creator Garry Marshall. According to Ron Howard in his 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television, Lynda Goodfriend was talented in more ways than one.

“She had been a dancer, been an actress, was very funny. And came in- I think Garry had seen in her in a play. She had done something, you know, with John Travolta years before in theater,” Howard recalled. “And I don’t quite remember what her calling card was. But she came in and just had this great winning smile and this wonderful quality and she stuck into a running character.”

The ‘Happy Days’ Star Helped Get Robin Williams’ Career Up and Running

Coming from a Broadway background with an emphasis on dancing and singing, Goodfriend didn’t have much experience with the “Happy Days” sitcom style of humor at first. In an effort to improve her comedy skills, Goodfriend took classes at Harvey Lembeck’s comedy workshop. There she crossed paths with a young Robin Williams.

“Among my classmates was a young comedian who could not get work as an actor because he could not stick to the script, but he was brilliant at improv,” Goodfriend said, per the New York Film Academy blog post.

And when “Happy Days” couldn’t fill a role for a character, Goodfriend brought his name up to the producers.

“He came in to audition, got the role, and the producers liked him so much they created a series of his own—it was called Mork and Mindy, and the actor, Robin Williams, became a huge star.”

While Robin Williams’ comedic talent spoke for itself, it looks like Lynda Goodfriend played an instrumental role in getting his legendary acting career off the ground.