In 2000, Marshall spoke with the Television Academy Foundation and shared insight into his hit show Happy Days. Fonzie’s girlfriend came up in the interview. As Marshall put it, “Fonzie finally got a girl that was his equal.” He called the introduction of Tuscadero a “favorite” episode of his and went on to explain how he created the character.
Of course, actor Henry Winkler‘s character “The Fonz” was the epitome of cool. Ladies loved him and guys wanted to be him. Yet no woman on the sitcom ever truly held Arthur Fonzarelli’s attention; until Pinky Tuscadero came around. It was a tall task to find the right woman to pair with Fonzie. Amusingly enough, Marshall came up with the character while on a family vacation that went wrong.
“I was driving with my family to Carmel, California – a lovely place we took a vacation to – and the car broke down. So while we’re waiting on the AAA, I’m really upset. The kids are crying, it’s hot, and I’m getting aggravated. My wife says, ‘Walk around, you’ll think of something. You’ll make something up, something will happen,'” the Happy Days creator explained.
“And I looked up, and the name of the exit was Tuscadero. That’s a great name. All my kids have these pink things on… I said, ‘That’s the character. I just got it.’ ‘What?’ she said. ‘Pinky Tuscadero, that’s a character.’ ‘Well, which show?'” Marshall amusingly recalled from the roadside conversation he had with his wife.
‘Happy Days’ Creator Reveals the Moment He Knew Fonzie Was a Hit
Speaking of Fonzie and the success of Henry Winkler‘s role, Marshall also revealed when he knew Happy Days had something special with the character. Marshall admitted that he didn’t ever intend for Fonzie to have a major role on the sitcom. In fact, no one involved with Happy Days ever expected Fonzie’s meteoric rise to stardom.
However, almost overnight “The Fonz” blew up. He was everywhere. Marshall shared an anecdote about the gate guard protecting the studio lot where Happy Days was filmed. One day, the guard said to Marshall, “You know this guy you got, Fonzie, he’s pretty good.” It was around that time that Marshall knew they had struck gold with Winkler’s casting.
“[Fonzie] became bigger than I ever imagined. He was on people’s clothes, on people’s pajamas, on their bedsheets. He was all over the place,” Marshall said to the Television Academy Foundation about the Fonzie craze. “You always know a character or something’s a hit if it’s on the other pages besides the TV pages in the newspaper.”
“They were referring to Fonzie all over the place. In sports, in government, and everywhere they made references. I remember [tennis legend] Arthur Ashe played – I can’t remember the other tennis player – and they said, ‘You got a big match tonight, is it going to be long?’ He said, ‘Oh no, short. We’re getting home. We gotta see Fonzie and Pinky Tuscadero.’ It was in the sports section. So he became big, Fonzie, no question,” Marshall added.