‘Happy Days’: Marion Ross Says They ‘Didn’t Need’ Chuck Cunningham

by Joe Rutland
(Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

Longtime “Happy Days” fans will remember that Richie Cunningham has an older brother named Chuck. Where did Chuck go after the first season?

Marion Ross, who played Marion Cunningham on the long-running ABC sitcom, said they just didn’t need that character on the show.

“People would say, ‘What kind of a family were you?'” Ross said in an interview with the Academy of American Television. “We didn’t need him, you know. So, Tom (Bosley) would say to me, you know, Joanie (Erin Moran) would say, ‘I’m going up to the attic to find something.’

“Tom would say, ‘If you see Chuck up there, pretend you don’t see him,'” Ross said. “We would make just all these jokes. We just didn’t need him.”

‘Happy Days’ Had 2 Actors Play Chuck Cunningham

Actor Gavan O’Herlihy was the first one to play Chuck on the show. Reportedly, O’Herlihy left the show as he wanted to put his attention on movies. Turns out that was a pretty good call for him as O’Herlihy has compiled more than 30 movie credits to his name.

In fact, he portrayed Arik Thaughbaer in the 1988 movie “Willow” and was in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again,” starring Sean Connery, in 1983.

After actor Randolph Roberts replaced O’Herlihy, the role of Chuck Cunningham was written off of “Happy Days” and never returned. So, the loss of Chuck didn’t derail the show’s success at all.

Can you imagine “Happy Days” without having Ron Howard in the cast? It almost happened. Howard was pretty close to walking out.

Thanks to the success of Henry Winkler and his character Arthur Fonzarelli, show producers wanted to change its name from “Happy Days” to “Fonzie’s Happy Days.”

Um, that didn’t sit too well with Howard, who played Richie Cunningham. Now he was fully on-board with Winkler getting his well-deserved acclaim. Both actors were friends. Howard, though, simply didn’t want to be a part of that show.

“They did come to me and said, ‘Well the network would kind of like to change the name of the show to Fonzie’s Happy Days,‘” Howard explained to ET Online. “And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think I wanna be in that show. I wanna be in ‘Happy Days.’ And I think Henry should have, you know, every opportunity to do everything. That’s fantastic. But you know, I signed on for this other thing and I just really don’t wanna do that. I think I’d go back to film school.'”

One person was missing from that meeting: show creator Garry Marshall. When Howard and Marshall crossed paths right after the meeting, Howard told him what he said. Marshall then said they would not do it and that was that. “Happy Days” stayed the show’s title through its 11-season run.