‘Happy Days’: Why Did ‘Potsie’ Actor Anson Williams Divorce His Wife of 30 Years in 2019?

by Chris Haney
(Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

In 2019, Happy Days star Anson Williams filed for a divorce from his wife of 30 years, Jackie Gerken, after citing irreconcilable differences.

The actor turned director is most well-known for his role as Warren “Potsie” Weber on the classic 70’s and 80’s sitcom. He starred on Happy Days from 1974 to 1984, during all 11 seasons of the hit show. Potsie was one of four high school friends that made up the core of the show’s cast. The other three boys included Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard), Ralph Malph (Don Most), and fan-favorite Fonzie (Henry Winkler).

Following his time on the show, Williams continued working in Hollywood and became a successful director. He worked on TV shows like Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and Lizzie McGuire. Five years after his time on Happy Days came to an end, he got married in 1988 to Gerken. 30 years later, the couple couldn’t work out their differences, and Williams filed for divorce.

In addition to the divorce, Williams filed for joint legal and physical custody of the couple’s three kids. The couple share three teenaged daughters together in twins Olivia Jean and Gabriella Rose, and the youngest Stella Rayne.

Previous to his marriage to Gerken, Williams married his first wife Lorrie Mahaffey while still starring on Happy Days in 1978. Their union lasted eight years before they separated in 1986. He shared one child with his first wife, another daughter named Hannah Lily.

‘Happy Days’ Star Anson Williams Shares Story of When He Finally Realized He Was Famous

Happy Days took off early on as fans quickly flocked to the sitcom. However, Anson Williams and the rest of the cast had no idea just how big the show had become. He shared a story where he finally realized the cast had become famous during a 2020 appearance on Pop Goes the Culture TV.

“We had to keep working to make sure there was a show every week,” Williams said, “So we knew the show was popular, but we never really felt it because when we were working 17 hours a day, you know, from dark-to-dark. It’s, you know, you’d work, you sleep, you’d eat, you get up, you work, you sleep, you eat, you get up.”

ABC sent the Happy Days cast to Houston, Texas as part of a tour where the actors made personal appearances in different cities. Yet when they arrived in Houston, they couldn’t have imagined how many fans would attend the event.

“We were like speechless,” Williams admitted. “We had no idea!”

Fans started going crazy as they arrived at the location. The actors were all in a limousine, but fans started shaking it so badly that police had to remove screaming fans off of the car.

“It was an out-of-body experience,” he added. “It was just like, ‘Oh my god, it’s The Beatles,’ you know? The cops are taking us out of the car, protecting us as we’re going through (the crowd). … It’s like, this is better than my bar mitzvah!”

“You needed new ears (it was so loud),” Williams joked. “And from that point on, it was a roller coaster ride.”