‘Happy Days’: One Star Saw Tom Bosley Perform on Broadway Before Ever Moving to Hollywood

by Keeli Parkey

Many actors have seen their careers advance thanks to their work on the Broadway stage. And, many actors have been inspired to become actors thanks to a Broadway production. Both were the case for stars of the beloved sitcom “Happy Days.”

Those stars are Tom Bosley and Henry Winkler. Bosley played Howard Cunningham, the patriarch of the Cunningham family. Winkler played Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli on the show.

According to an interview Winkler gave to PopEntertainment.com during 2011, he was inspired by Tom Bosley many years before they became castmates on “Happy Days.” Winkler reportedly saw the future Mr. Cunningham perform on the Broadway stage.

During his interview, Winkler reflected on Bosley’s work on “Happy Days” in the context of him having played a character who was viewed as a father. Turns out, Winkler was paying attention to what Bosley was doing on the show. And, he learned a lot.

“Well, he was a great dad, wasn’t he? I mean, he was a smart guy,” Winkler said of Bosley.

Then, Winkler talked about the first time he ever saw Tom Bosley perform. That took place in New York City on a Broadway stage years before “Happy Days” came to be.

“I saw him on Broadway before I ever got to California,” Winkler said. “… saw him in ‘Fiorello!’; I think he won the Tony.”

Bosley left an impression on Winkler then. Bosley left an even greater impression on Winkler when they worked together on “Happy Days.”

“What I’ve always said is that he was our father figure for 10 years in television, on television and he was our father figure in real life for 30,” Winkler told PopEntertainment.com.

Winkler was also asked if he reflected on Tom Bosley’s career in other ways during the interview. His answer was yes, but that he also drew from his personal experiences for his work.

“I do, but I also look back and I relate to being a dad just from living through three grown children,” Winkler reportedly said. “You know, my youngest is 27, my daughter is 30 and my oldest is 39.”

‘Happy Days’ Actor Tom Bosley Had Successful Career on the Broadway Stage

This was not Bosley’s last Broadway production in New York City. According to Playbill.com, Bosley did in fact win a Tony Award for his work in “Fiorello!” Also, in 1962 he played Izzy Einstein in the show “Nowhere to Go But Up.” Next, he played Vince Brinkman in the 1963 show “Natural Affection.” And, in 1964 Bosley played Cabouche in “A Murder Among Us.”

Bosley also had roles in “Catch Me If You Can” in 1965 and “The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N” in 1968, according to Playbill.com

The actor returned to Broadway in 1994 to play Maurice in “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.” Maurice is the father of Belle, the main character in the show.

Bosley also played Herr Schultz in the revival of “Cabaret” from December 2002 through September 2003.

“Happy Days” aired from 1974 until 1984. Tom Bosley died on Oct. 19, 2010. He was 83 years old at the time of his death.