“Happy Days” is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Even though it only ran until 1984, the characters are still familiar to many of us today. None more so than Henry Winkler’s “The Fonz.”
The success of the show and the appeal of its characters led to a bunch of spin-offs. Some were more successful than others. One of them, “Mork and Mindy,” even launched the career of funnyman Robin Williams.
One of the show’s core characters, however, was the patriarch of the Cunningham family. Played by Tom Bosley, Howard Cunningham appeared in all 255 episodes of “Happy Days.” Henry Winkler is the only other cast member to match that number.
But “Mr. C” had a prolific acting career outside of his iconic role. And at the time of his death in 2010, Tom Bosley was worth roughly $5 million.
Tom Bosley’s Career Before “Happy Days”
After serving in the United States Navy during World War II, Tom Bosley pursued a career in stage acting.
In the late 1940s, he acted alongside Paul Newman at the Woodstock Opera House in Illinois.
Bosley’s big break came in the late 1950s when he played the title role in the Broadway musical, “Fiorello!” He won a Tony Award for his performance, acting in every single one of the production’s 800 shows.
“I looked in the mirror and said, ‘I think I better go to New York and work in the theater. Because I was short, kind of heavy, and that is not the way to break into the film industry,” he told the Archive of American Television in a 2000 interview.
After his success on Broadway, Bosley started getting all kinds of roles. He broke into television and film and found plenty of work through the 1960s.
His appearance and demeanor made him perfect for fatherly, authoritative characters. And he found the perfect role on “Happy Days.” Howard Cunningham was a well-meaning and stern father to Richie and Joanie, but he was able to bring some humor to the mix as well.
The years Bosley spent playing Howard Cunningham on “Happy Days” landed him #9 on TV Guide’s list of the greatest television dads of all time.