‘Happy Days’: Show’s Creator Explained Why the Cunninghams Were ‘Ideal Family,’ Prompted Fan Mail

by Chris Haney

The classic television show Happy Days featured the Cunningham family – an idyllic Midwestern family of the 1950s/1960s. The show’s creator, Garry Marshall, once opened up about what made the TV family ideal for the times.

The popular ABC sitcom was based on Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his family and friends. His parents, Howard and Marion Cunningham, helped curate a wholesome household. The Cunninghams were very involved in the life of the family and displayed classic values.

Marshall gave an interview to The Guardian in March 2015 where he discussed the idyllic family.

“One of our most popular episodes was when Fonzie pretended he had somewhere to spend Christmas, when really he was home alone. So Richie went around to take him for Christmas at the Cunninghams. For a lot of people, the Cunninghams were the ideal family. They always ate dinner together and would hug all the time,” the Happy Days creator explained.

Fans of the show connected with the Cunninghams for multiple reasons. Some saw their own picturesque families in the Happy Days characters. On the other hand, some fans with a less than perfect upbringing connected to the show in hopes of having a Cunningham-like family one day.

“A lot of people who were abused growing up used to write to me and say they would watch Happy Days and think: ‘Maybe there’s a better family out there somewhere,'” Marshall said.

‘Happy Days’: Henry Winkler Opens up About Fonzie’s Sexism On the Show

On Happy Days, actor Henry Winkler‘s beloved character Fonzie was known for being smooth around women. However, Winkler admits that Fonzie‘s sexism on the hit show has no place in today’s society.

Everyone remembers “The Fonz” snapping at women and immediately getting their full attention. His signature click of his fingers never failed. When Fonzie snapped, women came running. In addition, he could get anyone else’s attention with the trick as well.

With hindsight available and being decades removed from the show, his famous snap of the fingers didn’t age so well. During a 2015 interview, Winkler spoke about his famous character’s sexism and shared some advice.

“All over the world, people still click their fingers at me like I did to women in the show. The advice I’ve always given about the Fonz’s sexism is this: ‘Never snap your fingers at a girl. They will break them off your hand,’” the Happy Days star said.


In addition to his snapping fingers trick, “The Fonz” was also known for another signature move. Whenever the jukebox didn’t work, Fonzie would hit it and the jukebox would magically come to life again. Yet Winkler made sure to clear that up as well.

“And I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, but if you hit a jukebox at the same time as a man named Fred plugs it in, you too can start a song playing. You too can make magic,” Winkler joked.