A car breaking down at a rather inopportune time turns out to be part of Anson Williams’ story toward stardom on “Happy Days.”
Williams, who played “Potsie” Weber on the ABC sitcom, recalls the journey to getting the role in a 2018 interview with Equality 365.
“There were actually two pilots,” Williams tells interviewer Eric Andrews-Katz. “The first was called ‘Love and the Happy Days,’ and it was on the television show ‘Love, American Style.’ I was on the way to the audition when my car broke down.”
“Love, American Style” was an ABC show that, at times, would have two or three different “episodes” within its time period.
‘Happy Days’ Star Gets Question During Audition If He Could Play Softball
“I had to wait forever for the auto club (this was pre-cell phones, remember), but I made it in looking like a drowned rat,” Williams, who was on “Happy Days” for its entire 11-season run, says. “I heard the casting director mutter, ‘You’re lucky we haven’t found a Potsie.’ I asked what a ‘Potsie’ was.”
Williams says he read the script while attempting to impersonate a friend of his. Turns out that worked pretty well.
“I heard them say, ‘He’s perfect!'” he says. “They called [‘Happy Days’ creator] Garry Marshall in, and I read for him. The first thing he said was, ‘Do you play softball?’ (I think he wanted the softball league together as much as the production). They had already cast Ron Howard [Richie Cunningham], and so he came in so we could read together.”
After his reading with Howard, Williams says network executives came in and he did another reading with them in the room.
“By the time I got home,” he says, “the phone was ringing, and it was the agent saying I got the job.”
TV Show Allowed Williams To Prove That He Was Not Failure
“Happy Days” is set in the 1950s. Besides Howard and Williams, other stars on the show included Tom Bosley, Marion Ross, Henry Winkler, Erin Moran, and Don (then Donny) Most.
Before his success, though, Williams’ life at home was anything but peaceful. He grew up around a father who was pretty tough on him. Williams discussed his “broken” childhood while doing an interview for a 2014 article by OnMilwaukee.
“Every day of my life, my dad said something like, ‘If it weren’t for you, I’d have my art gallery, and I wouldn’t have to feed your stupid face,'” Williams says. “My dad made sure his failure was my failure, and I didn’t let him down: I was irresponsible, insecure, klutzy.”
Yet the actor persevered through growing up around that atmosphere. “Happy Days” has made Anson Williams a household name thanks to the power of reruns. Potsie Weber is an iconic character in the world of classic TV. He joins his fellow cast members in making people laugh and forget their troubles for a half-hour whenever someone watches an episode.