‘Happy Days’ Star Marion Ross ‘Loved’ Being on ‘The Lone Ranger’

by Taylor Cunningham

Our favorite Happy Days mom once had a guest spot on The Lone Ranger. And it was perhaps her favorite role of all.

The now-retired Marion Ross enjoyed a long and steady career starring in sitcoms. But she’s probably best known for playing Marion Cunningham—Richie’s all-American mom—on Happy Days.

Following her success in Garry Marshall’s iconic series, she continued playing mother figures in shows such as Brooklyn Bridge, The Drew Carey Show, and Gilmore Girls. She was even the voice of the Sponge Bob Square Pants grandmother. So it’s safe to say that she found her niche in the industry.

But despite all of her illustrious acting credits, Marion’s personal career highlight was staring in The Lone Ranger, where she was also a mother.

“I loved it,” she told the Media Path Podcast.

And what’s best is that she had the honor of asking, “who is that masked man,” which is one of the most iconic phrases from the show.

Who Did Marion Ross Play on ‘The Lone Ranger’?

In 1954, exactly two decades before Happy Days hit TV screens, Marion Ross starred in a The Lone Ranger episode titled Texas Draw.

Marion played Virginia Thorpe, wife of wealthy landowner Brother John Thorpe. In the episode, Brother John ends up getting mixed up with a local gang. And when a fight breaks out, the Lone Ranger and his counterpart Tonto save the day.

‘Happy Days’ Creator Garry Marshall Was ‘So Important’ To Marion Ross

In a recent podcast, actress Marion Ross remembered her Happy Days boss fondly.

“Garry Marshall was so important to me,” she said. “… He just took care of all of us. Isn’t that something? He took us all to Europe. He was a wonderful man with a wonderful family.”

Ross described Marshall as a team builder. And as she told the Media Path Podcast, he had quite a few teams to build while he worked on Happy Days. Marshall had writers, production staff, actors, and crews to manage. And Garry Marshall gave each group personalized one-on-one attention so he could nurture each person’s talents.

But Marion said the actors noticed Marshall’s unique leadership skills most on the softball field. The Happy Days cast played on a traveling team that competed against local ABC affiliates across the country. And Garry Marshall used that opportunity to strengthen the bond between the stars.

“[Softball] was the thing that made us such a family,” Marion Ross wrote after Marshall’s death in 2016. “You know, a television show has at best a life of about six or seven years. When we started coming up toward that goal [on Happy Days], Garry would say, ‘I don’t see why we just can’t keep going.’ I think he really just didn’t want to give up the softball team.”