Creating a television show is kind of like a magic act. The audience gets to see a product that entertains them and engages their imagination. However, there is a ton of work and a little sleight of hand that goes on behind the curtain to make the magic happen. Happy Days was no exception to this. There were hours of hard work that most people never saw. Furthermore, most people don’t even think about the things that go into their favorite shows. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the hard work that made the magic happen on this classic show.
Happy Days Was Originally a Single-Camera Show
Happy Days was a single-camera sitcom for its first two seasons. It wasn’t until the third season of the show that they updated to a three-camera format. There was a time when all sitcoms followed the one-camera format. Interestingly enough, many of those shows aired during the era in which the classic show was set.
This photo shows what rehearsals looked like on the set of Happy Days. In the photo, Henry Winkler, Scott Baiao, and Roger Phillips are working on a scene. You can see the giant single camera capturing the action. At the same time, showrunners stand just out of the camera’s view to keep the scene on track.
A Look at the Infamous Fourth Wall
Anyone who watches movies or television has probably heard of the fourth wall. It’s the wall that separates the audience from the on-screen action. Most of the time, that wall stays intact. However, sometimes characters will break it. That’s when they turn and talk directly to the audience. For instance, much of the humor in the movie Deadpool came from the titular character breaking the fourth wall. However, long before that happened Tom Bosley, who played Howard Cunningham on Happy Days broke that wall during the series finale. He did so to thank the viewers of the show for being part of the Cunningham family over the years.
This photo features Winkler, Baiao, and Phillips as well. However, if you look at the floor, you can see a broad stripe on the floor. That is the infamous fourth wall. It serves as a vantage point for the cameraman. At the same time, it encloses the room in which the scene is taking place.
Learning Lines for Happy Days
The cast of Happy Days really drew audiences in overtime. However, without the strong and timeless writing on the show, it wouldn’t still be a favorite. The cast spent hours learning lines and adapting to their on-screen personas to bring viewers the best possible version of the series.
By the time Happy Days started, Ron Howard was a professional. He had been in television and film since he was a little boy. So, when it came time to help out actors like Henry Winkler who were less experienced, he was always there. In fact, he and Winkler became as close as brothers on the set. Part of that was the fact that Howard was always willing to lend a hand where he could. Winkler looked up to the younger actor as a teacher.
However, even Ron Howard had to work at his craft. In this photo, you can see him in full character wardrobe working on his lines with a script supervisor before a scene.
Where the Magic Happened
When viewers tuned into Happy Days every week, they were transported through time and space. No matter where they were, for a half-an-hour every week, the audience was planted firmly in 1950s Milwaukee, Wisconsin. However, all of that midwestern charm came straight from a Hollywood studio lot. In this picture, you can see the entrance to where all of the classic television magic happened.