“Happy Days” is undeniably one of the greatest shows in television history. It was the characters that brought it such widespread acclaim. The Fonz might have been cool but Richie Cunningham was the heart of the show. In fact, in the early days of the series, the show was focused on Richie and his pals. It was only after mobs of fans fell in love with Fonzie that the focus shifted. However, Ron Howard’s Richie remained the same. He was an all-American teenager. Audiences across the country could relate to him. Even though the show was set some twenty years in the past when it aired. many of Richie’s attributes were timeless.
You can see the timelessness of Ron Howard’s character in a big way during a “Happy Days” scene that references another classic sitcom, “All in the Family.” In the scene, Richie is shown to be a good big brother. At the same time, he proves that he is a fledgling ladies’ man. This scene comes in the season five episode “Joanie’s First Kiss.”
‘Happy Days’ References ‘All in the Family’
In the episode, Joanie is getting ready to go on her first car date with an older boy. Proving that he is the heart of, “Happy Days,” Richie sits his sister down to talk to her about some of the tricks teenage boys use to try and seal the deal.
The reference comes in a scene where Richie and The Fonz are preparing Joanie for her date. The boys sit on the couch together as if they are in a car. Richie plays the part of the driver and Fonzie plays Joanie. They go through a couple of possible scenarios. One of them is the classic move where the boy acts like he’s yawning and stretching and slips his arm around the girl beside him.
To set up the routine, Fonzia says, “Let’s try the old stretch routine. You know it?” Not only did Richie know the move, he said he always had good luck using it. As they get into character, Richie gets a little nostalgic and says, “They used to call me Stretch Cunningham.” He drops his old nickname a couple of times in the scene.
Stretch Cunningham was a recurring character on “All in the Family,” he was a friend of Archie Bunker. In fact, there was a time when Stretch almost became the star of the show due to a contract dispute with Carroll O’Connor, according to IMDb.
This scene is great, not just because it sees “Happy Days” referencing another classic show. The chemistry between the two old friends is really evident here. Watch the short clip above and you’ll see a great example of how well the two actors worked together.