‘Happy Days’: Ralph Malph Actor Don Most Initially Turned Down Role Despite It Being Made for Him

by Jennifer Shea

On “Happy Days,” Ralph Malph became an integral part of Richie Cunningham’s (Ron Howard) foursome. But the role didn’t even exist before actor Don Most auditioned to play Potsie.

After Most auditioned, producers gave the role of Potsie to Anson Williams. But they liked Most’s screen test so much that they decided to write a new role just for him. Then they offered his agent the role, envisioning Most rounding out Richie’s group of friends.

But what happened next is often forgotten in “Happy Days” lore. Most turned them down. And for a while there, it looked like Ralph Malph wouldn’t exist, after all.

Why Don Most Passed on ‘Happy Days’

As Most recounted the story to Harvey Brownstone, his stint on “Happy Days” began with a grueling audition process.

“I went in and met the producers, the exec producers,” Most said. “And then they called me back, and I had to read that time for Garry Marshall, and a whole bunch of other people in the room. I was reading for Potsie. And then they called me back to do a screen test. I went through that whole – it was a long day, it was a kind of a grueling day.”

Most was sure he didn’t get the part. He didn’t do as well as he could have, and he just had a feeling that he wasn’t going to play Potsie.

“Then my agent called and said, ‘You didn’t get the role of Potsie, but they liked your screen test so much, they want to create a role for you,’” Most recalled. “‘And there’s a small part in the pilot, a guy named Ralph, and they’ll make that a regular role. They’ll guarantee you so many episodes–’ you know, seven out of 13, and da da da.”

But there was a catch. At the time, Most was up for a dramatic TV movie project that he really liked. And he had always been more interested in drama than comedy.

“When they offered me the role of, this new role for ‘Happy Days,’ my agent and I said, I said, ‘I’d really prefer to do the dramatic film.’ And he agreed,” Most said. “He said, ‘Yeah, I think you have a good chance, and let’s go for it.’ And so we passed on ‘Happy Days.’”

Then Fate Intervened

Fortunately for Most, that was not the end of the story. As chance would have it, his agent also played basketball at Garry Marshall’s house every Saturday. And after they had gone to all the trouble of writing the Ralph Malph part for Most, Marshall was not giving up so easily.

“During a break in the game, Garry took my agent aside and said, ‘Hey, what’s with your boy turning us down?’” Most explained. Marshall upped the ante, offering Most more screen time and more money to do the show. “So my agent called me on Monday, he said, ‘We might want to reconsider.’”

So Most ended up playing Ralph Malph in the end. And the rest is television history.

Watch Most’s interview with Brownstone here: