HomeEntertainment‘Happy Days’ Actress Linda Purl Lived in Japan as a Child and ‘Didn’t Like’ American Culture at First

‘Happy Days’ Actress Linda Purl Lived in Japan as a Child and ‘Didn’t Like’ American Culture at First

by Jennifer Shea
Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives

“Happy Days” actress Linda Purl had to deal with some culture shock at a certain point in her life. It was not when she moved from America to Japan. It was when she returned to America that the difference really hit her.

Purl was born in Greenwich, Connecticut. But her dad worked for Union Carbide as a corporate executive. And when she was just five years old, he moved the family to Japan, according to MeTV. Once there, Purl became a child actor.

Purl actually got her own TV show on Japan’s educational channel from the time she was 7 until she was 14. She took to the stage, performing in a Japanese production of “The King and I,” in which she played Anna’s son. And she appeared in Japanese motion pictures made by Toho, the studio responsible for “Godzilla.”

Purl Had a Negative Reaction to America

When Purl finally came back to America, she found she did not like the country of her birth. At least, when she first got to the U.S., before she made her way to “Happy Days.”

“I didn’t understand my country,” Purl told The Times and Democrat in 1976. “I found no discipline or pride or respect for teachers among my schoolmates. There seemed to be no culture or tradition.”

Sadly, Purl came to realize she didn’t really belong in Japan, either. Not at home in either place, she eventually settled in America, where she appeared on “Happy Days.”

“After I had been here for some time, I went back home to Japan for a visit and found I really didn’t belong there either,” Purl told the newspaper. “I’m not Japanese and they can’t accept me as one of them.”

Still, she said, in America “I was just amazed at my contemporaries who spend so much time and energy trying to buck the system.”

Purl Played Two Different Characters on ‘Happy Days’

On “Happy Days,” Purl first played Richie Cunningham’s (Ron Howard) high school girlfriend Gloria in Season 1. She came back to “Happy Days” later as a different girlfriend – this time as Fonzie’s (Henry Winkler) girl, Ashley Pfister – in Season 10.

Since “Happy Days,” Purl has appeared in “Desperate Housewives,” “Criminal Minds” and “The Office,” among other shows. She has also appeared on Broadway, acting in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” and “Getting and Spending.” And Purl has acted in the films “Homeland” and “Lie to Me,” as well.

While she had a bumpy reintroduction to the U.S., Purl seems to have settled in nicely and is reportedly dating “Dallas” star Patrick Duffy. Looks like the actress found her happy ending in America, after all.