‘Happy Days’ Star Tom Bosley Emotionally Explained His Response to Fan’s Letters About Being a Father

by Joe Rutland

Tom Bosley would get fan letters while playing family patriarch Howard Cunningham on “Happy Days.” Some of them were quite profound.

“People used to write me letters and I still get them,” Bosley said in a 2000 interview for the Archive of American Television.

“‘I wish you were like my father.’ And I tell them, ‘No you don’t,'” he said. “Because, you see, in television, I’m a good father because somebody writes words that I say. But when I go home to my family, I have to ad-lib 24 hours a day.”

‘Happy Days’ Star Entered Series With Wealth Of TV Experience

He played “Mr. C” for all 10 seasons the Garry Marshall-created series ran on ABC. Bosley, though, entered the series with a wealth of TV and movie experience in hand. Some of his other TV appearances included shows like “The Virginian,” “The Mod Squad,” “Bonanza,” and “Love, American Style.”

Yet it’s his role on “Happy Days” that people all over the world remember Bosley for as generations watch reruns. Obviously, Bosley played opposite Marion Ross, who played Marion Cunningham, on the show.

Bosley, who also starred in the “Father Dowling Mysteries,” died on Oct. 19, 2010, at 83 years old.

Bosley Recalls Reading Pilot Script And Being Sold On One Scene

Actors will get scripts to review and see if they want to take a role or not. Tom Bosley was no different. He recalled finding his “Happy Days” role while reading the pilot’s script.

“The casting director thought I probably was going to be perfect for ‘Happy Days,'” Bosley said. “And so I was in New York, hosting the 20th anniversary of City Center or something like that. And my agent calls me up and says there’s a script waiting for you at the hotel. When you get back, look at it. I looked at it.

“For some strange reason, there was one scene in the pilot between the boy and his dad, when they started talking about him meeting a girl,” Bosley said. “And he’s in the shower and I’m sitting on the toilet seat talking to him. And I said this is really interesting, this is good writing.”

The boy, of course, is Richie Cunningham, played by Ron Howard. Their interactions as father and son helped provide “Happy Days” with a sense of family during the 1950s.

Bosley, Howard, and Ross were part of the main cast, along with Henry Winkler as “The Fonz” and Erin Moran as Joanie Cunningham.