‘Happy Days’: Ron Howard Pushed One Cast Member to Direct, Led to Successful Career Behind the Camera

by Keeli Parkey

We often find inspiration from our friends and coworkers. And, sometimes the things they say to us have an impact that lasts for years. This happened between Ron Howard and one of his castmates on the beloved sitcom “Happy Days.” The show was on the air from 1974 until 1984.

So, which “Happy Days” co-star did Howard inspire with a simple comment? Was it Henry Winkler? Nope. How about Tom Bosley? Also, no. What about Scott Baio? Nope.

The co-star Ron Howard inspired was the man who played the lovable and goofy Potsie Weber on “Happy Days.” The actor behind Potsie was Anson Williams. He shared some details about how Howard influenced him and his career during a 2010 interview with SmashingInterviews.com.

In the interview, Williams said he felt that acting would not be his career forever. He also shared details about his career in entertainment.

“Early on in acting I knew I wouldn’t be doing it as a career my whole life,” Williams said in 2010. “I first started creating and writing shows and selling them as a producer.”

Here’s where his “Happy Days” pal Ron Howard comes into play.

“Then it was Ron Howard who said, ‘You really should direct.’ I ended up attaching myself to shows that I had created because no one would give me a break as a director,” Williams said during the interview. “But I love it. I’ve been directing since 1985 and it has been tremendous.”

According to the SmashingInterviews.com article, Williams has directed episodes of such television shows as “Beverly Hills, 90210,” “Charmed,” “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,” “Star Trek Voyager,” “Diagnosis Murder,” “Sabrina, The Teenage Witch,” “Xena: Warrior Princess,” and “Melrose Place.”

Williams also said during that 2010 interview that 99.9 percent of his directing work has been for television.

Learn More About the Man Who Played Potsie on ‘Happy Days’

You know that he played a goofball on a beloved sitcom. And, you know that he followed the advice of one of his “Happy Days” castmates on the sitcom to follow a path that led to a successful directing career. But, what else do you know about Anson Williams?

Well, according to IMDb.com, his given name is Anson William Heimlich. Here’s an interesting tidbit – he’s a cousin to the man who created the Heimlich maneuver. That man’s name is Dr. Henry Heimlich.

Anson Williams was born on Sept. 25, 1949, in Los Angeles, California.

In addition to his work as an actor and a director, Williams also pursued a career in music for a short while. According to SmashingInterviews.com, he worked at becoming a singer. However, he chose to leave this path behind as well.

“I (had a singing career) for over a decade,” Williams said during the interview. “I co-headlined in Vegas and Reno, and then I became a realist there also. I thought, ‘Well, this part’s done, too. Let’s go to something else.’ I saw limitations and I changed course.”