‘Happy Days’: Why Erin Moran Shot Down Idea that ‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ Was a Failure

by John Jamison

Classic sitcom “Happy Days” was wildly successful. So successful, in fact, that the beloved characters on the show had enough appeal to get their own spin-offs. Some of these, naturally, were better than others.

One of them, “Joanie Loves Chachi,” was considered by most to be a failure. It lasted for only 17 episodes and was canceled just a year after it first aired. But Erin Moran, the woman who played Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days” and then “Joanie Loves Chachi,” begged to differ.

In an interview with Sitcoms Online, Erin explained why she didn’t think “Joanie Loves Chachi” failed.

“‘Joanie Loves Chachi’ was never intended to go any further than it did. It was set up exactly the way the producers and the heads of the network wanted it to be. Which was a limited-time run,” she said.

The show follows Joanie Cunningham and Chachi Arcola in Chicago as they pursue music careers in the 1960s. It featured musical performances from Scott Baio, who played Chachi, and Moran. Unfortunately, the show received low ratings and only lasted two seasons.

Other ‘Happy Days’ Spin-Offs

According to Emily Moran, “Joanie Loves Chachi” was intended to be short-lived the whole time. But there are a couple of other “Happy Days” spin-offs that had long runs on TV.

Laverne & Shirley ran from 1976-1983. It followed Laverne DeFazio and Shirley Feeney, who were friends of The Fonz, while they lived as roommates and worked at a Milwaukee brewery.

Mork & Mindy ran from 1978-1982. It saw Robin Williams play an alien named Mork, who appeared in “Happy Days.” Mork came to Earth to study humans and ends up living with a woman named Mindy.

Erin Moran’s Struggles

Erin Moran, unfortunately, passed away in 2017 from stage 4 cancer. In the years after “Happy Days” and “Joanie Loves Chachi,” she faced a reality that was experienced by a number of other child actors.

Having to transition from a life of fame at such a young age is a notoriously difficult thing to do.

Because she was typecast as Joanie Cunningham, Moran struggled to find other work in the industry. While she appeared on popular TV shows in guest-starring roles, she never again found the success she had on “Happy Days.”

But she will always be remembered fondly as Joanie.