‘Happy Days’: One Actress Told Story of Meeting Louis Armstrong by Chance, Became ‘Chatty Friends’

by Matthew Wilson

Celebrities of various different fields often rub shoulders in Hollywood. Sometimes even celebrities get star-struck. For instance, one “Happy Days” actor once met the legendary musician Louis Armstrong.

Marion Ross is best known for her role as Ron Howard’s mother Marion Cunningham on “Happy Days.” She starred the series for 11 seasons. But Ross has also had a successful career outside the iconic sitcom. One day, she had a chance encounter with Louis Armstrong and other musicians at Twentieth Century Fox.

She was eating lunch alone and decided to sit with the musicians instead. For the day, Ross and Armstrong became instant friends. She spoke out about the encounter while talking with The LA Beat in 2019

“One day at lunch, I’m all by myself. I don’t have anybody in my category. So, I go into Twentieth Century Fox. And at the counter [sat] Louis Armstrong, Cozy Cole,” Ross said. “All these musicians were sitting at the counter. I thought, ‘Well I’m gonna sit with those guys. I’m all by myself.’ And I sat with them and had all these conservations with Louis Armstrong. Can you believe it? So, it’s been in many cases, a small career but a big career, full of stuff.”

Marion Ross and Louis Armstrong

Given their different professions, Ross and Armstrong probably had a lot to talk about. Many consider Louis Armstrong to be one of the most influential figures in jazz music. The artist carved a legacy for himself with his music and his distinctive raspy voice. As a musician, Armstrong’s instrument of choice was the trumpet. The performer might have been the best trumpeter to ever live.

Born in New Orleans, Armstrong’s star power quickly rose during the 1950s and 60s. Later in his career, he also appeared in several films himself, giving acting a try. He appeared in the films “High Society and “Hello Dolly!” for instance. That probably explains what Armstrong was doing around the Twentieth Century Fox Studios.

For her part, Ross remembered her encounter with Armstrong fondly. She described a friendly conversation that they had together.

“I talked to him a lot, about all kinds of things, and he was very chatty and he was in this period of getting himself very thin,” Ross said.

Armstrong ended up passing away in 1971 at the age of 69 years old. After appearing in “Happy Days,” Ross has had a steady career, most notably performing voice work for a number of shows in recent years.