‘Happy Days’ Star Anson Williams Almost Missed His Audition: Here’s Why

by Joe Rutland

“Happy Days” really helped actor Anson Williams start his career off on the right foot. But Williams almost missed his audition. Why?

It involves his car. He shares the story during a 2015 interview for OWN.

“One night I get a call that there’s this audition for this ’50s show,” Williams says. “On my way down, my car stopped. I’m like hours late. I go to Paramount Studios and go up to the receptionist.

“‘Hi, I’m sorry I’m so late, I’m Anson Williams’ and I hear, ‘Where the hell you been?'” Williams says. “She goes, ‘You’re lucky. We haven’t cast Potsie yet.’ I say, ‘What’s a Potsie?’

‘Happy Days’ Actor Ends Up Playing ‘Potsie’ for 11 Seasons On Sitcom

“And there I was on ‘Happy Days’ and the rest is history,” he says. Indeed, Williams plays “Potsie” Weber for 11 seasons on the ABC sitcom. His character is a close friend of Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard, and also pals around with Ralph Malph, played by Don (then Donny) Most.

“Happy Days” would become one of the most popular network TV sitcoms in the 1970s. The show originally started out being filmed and focusing on the Cunningham family, mainly Richie and his life. Williams and Most were around, too, along with Richie’s parents Marion [Marion Ross] and Howard [Tom Bosley].

But “Happy Days” made a couple of changes in its run on ABC. One, the show started filming its episodes before a studio audience so the actors received immediate feedback from them. That allowed for some iconic moments to get caught on camera, including comedian Robin Williams making his first appearance as Mork. Two, show producers began highlighting The Fonz, played by Henry Winkler, more. Fans wanted more Fonzie and “Happy Days” gave it to them.

Classic TV Show Almost Changed Its Name But Creator Stopped Idea

There even was consideration around changing the show’s name and including Fonzie in the title. That went over like a load of bricks with Howard. Obviously, the name change never happened because Howard told show creator Garry Marshall what he’d said in a meeting with show producers.

Marshall wasn’t present, yet was outside the door when the meeting ended. He asked Howard about what went down and Howard’s response. Once Marshall heard what Howard said [basically that he didn’t sign up for this and he’s going back to film school if the change happens], Marshall scrapped the plans. “Happy Days” kept its name until the show left ABC.

“Happy Days” cast members also included Erin Moran as Joanie Cunningham, Scott Baio as Chachi, Pat Morita as Arnold, Al Molinaro as Al, and Ted McGinley as Roger. The show would see cast members leave, including Howard and Most, but continued for 11 seasons up to 1984. It is still popular in reruns as new generations find something funny and tender in the Cunningham family and, of course, Fonzie.