‘Happy Days’: Garry Marshall Was Terrified of Fonzie’s Dog after Being Bitten by Another Dog

by Joe Rutland

Garry Marshall could create a series like “Happy Days” and see it become a hit sitcom on ABC. Put a dog near him, though, and he froze up.

Marshall, before finding success as a producer in the world of television and movies, was an actor. During his first acting job, according to an article from metv.com, Marshall was bitten by a dog. In his memoir, “My Happy Days in Hollywood,” which came out in 2012, he writes, “I acted in one movie about dogs and ended up being bitten by the dog. It left me with a fear of dogs for the rest of my life.”

Then he got the idea to give Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, his own dog on “Happy Days.” The dog named Spunky appeared in two of the sitcom’s episodes. Spunky’s real name was Cindy and happened to be Marshall’s own dog which he received as a gift from actor Cindy Williams.

Does that name sound familiar? It should. Williams played Shirley Feeney in the “Happy Days” spinoff show, “Laverne and Shirley.” Marshall’s sister Penny Marshall played Laverne DeFazio on the show, too. But Williams reportedly had been looking for a home for this dog. She asked Marshall and he took it in with his family.

Despite all of this happening, Marshall admitted that he never really got over his fear of dogs.

Just another great story from Marshall, who died on July 19, 2016, at 81 years old.

‘Happy Days’ Creator Said Show Originally Was Set For Different Time

As everyone knows, “Happy Days” is set in the 1950s with jukeboxes, bobbysoxers and, of course, Fonzie.

Yet Marshall said the show originally was supposed to be set in the 1920s. Say what? Let Marshall explain it.

He said in a 2015 interview with “The Guardian” that he initially was tasked to do another show from the Roaring ’20s.

“In 1971, I was asked to make a show about flappers in the 1920s and ’30s,” Marshall said. “I said I know nothing about that era, but I’ll do it if it’s set in the ’50s. Back then, it would have been hard to do an honest depiction of teenagers without showing drugs and booze – and we didn’t want to do that. By making it nostalgic, we avoided all that.”

Nostalgia remains popular with people no matter what generation comes along. One generation learns from another. This happens when new viewers come along and see “Happy Days” for the first time. The show is timeless, something that gave Marshall a chance to create a show that can last forever.