‘Happy Days’: Marion Ross Reveals What It Was Like Playing Marion Cunningham

by Jon D. B.

The iconic actress, now 92, talks in depth about the beginning and end of Marion Cunningham in her classic ‘Happy Days’ interview.

In her revealing Television Academy Archival sit down, ‘Happy Days’ icon Marion Ross tells all. With a radiant smile and vibrant memories, she shares what it was like playing the timeless “Mrs. C.”

Ross holds a remarkable memory of her tenure on the show. When asked to recount specific episodes of ‘Happy Days,’ however, Ross simply smiles.

“It’s so funny. We made 255 [episodes], so very often I don’t remember a specific [episode by title]. And even watching it on reruns I might say ‘Oh! I’d forgotten about that. But I love to think about our softball team,” she recalls. “We all had our uniforms – I have mine still!”

The cast of ‘Happy Days’ did, in fact, have their own softball team. Fans of the show at the time would get to meet the entire cast through their games – all across the world. “We went to Okinawa!” Ross laughs. The icon, now 92, remembers this fondly, saying it was the “best way to meet fans” and get to know them “outside” of Marion Cunningham.

“We got to meet thousands of fans that way,” she smiles.

Marion Ross: ‘We Were Overworked, and a Little Sleep Deprived’ on ‘Happy Days’

When it comes to her timeless performance as Marion, Ross says her favorite “moments” as the matriarch are what come to mind.

“One of my favorite shows was when The Fonz and I did the tango together,” she grins. “They had a special choreographer come to the set, and we would learn this on our lunch hour! And I’m sure the scene lasts what, thirty seconds? But I thought I was Ginger Rogers.”

“And then they had me do a play,” she recalls of Marion’s theatre stint. “They had me do a scene from ‘The Rainmaker.’ And then I wrecked the car once, and that was another one of my favorites. I ended up in jail! Or they would have certain scenes where [characters] would say ‘Oh, where’s Mrs. C?’ and I would come in off the back of the motorcycle. You can imagine me all windblown, coming in all fancy. I loved stuff like that.”

Perhaps most revealing of all, however, is Ross’ recounting of the last episode of ‘Happy Days.’

“The final episode was the wedding of Joanie and Chachi, and Richie came home for the wedding,” she recalls. This was no small deal. Longtime fans will remember Ron Howard’s heavy absence from the ending seasons.

“And of course we knew it was the last show… I think we were all very tired. We would film several shows kind of at the same time. So we were overworked, and a little sleep deprived. So we were all very emotional.”

To this end, Ross says “We were glad it was over. It was time for ‘Happy Days’ to end,” she remembers. “We knew it would be over, but it still was such a huge part of our lives.”

Relive the entire revealing interview, and Ross’ favorite ‘Happy Days’ moments, with the icon below: