‘Happy Days’: Why Lynda Goodfriend Was the ‘Winning’ Actress for Richie Cunningham’s Girlfriend

by John Jamison

From 1977-1984, Lynda Goodfriend played Lori Beth Allen on the classic show “Happy Days.” Her character eventually became Lori Beth Cunningham after marrying Ron Howard’s Riche Cunningham, with the two dating each other on the show. But how did they land on Lynda Goodfriend for the role?

Well, it was a pretty straightforward process. Apparently, Ron Howard and Lynda Goodfriend never even auditioned together. The producers just threw her into the mix, and the chemistry between the two was undeniable.

In a 2006 interview with the Archive of American Television, Ron Howard recalled how the decision was made.

“It was one of those things where she just came in and did an episode, and the chemistry was good. And they decided to keep bringing her back,” he said. “And it was a nice thing for Richie to finally have a steady girlfriend.”

But it’s not like Lynda Goodfriend was completely inexperienced. The “Happy Days” star came from a Broadway background and obviously had the acting chops. It came down to the chemistry between her and Howard. The producers liked what they saw, and it led to Richie and Lori Beth getting married.

It Wasn’t The First Time Richie Dated A Lynda Goodfriend Character On ‘Happy Days’

While Richie Cunningham eventually settled down with Lori Beth, it wasn’t the first time the two actors crossed each other’s paths in the show’s universe. In true Garry Marshall fashion, he used the same actor for different roles.

Funnily enough, in Season four of “Happy Days,” the two of them dated when Goodfriend was playing a character named Kim. In the episode titled “Time Capsule,” they can be seen cozying up to each other. But it doesn’t end there.

Just a few episodes later, Goodfriend’s Kim character was dating someone else. In the two-part episode titled “The Graduation,” Kim is Ralph Malph’s date to the prom.

In a way, Lynda Goodfriend’s Kim character served as a sort of audition for the role of Richie’s eventual girlfriend. After all, whether she was Kim or Lori Beth, the two actors probably shared the same exact chemistry.

Garry Marshall, the creator of “Happy Days,” loved using the same actors for different roles. And when the short-lived spin-off “Blansky’s Beauties” hit screens in 1977, Lynda Goodfriend played yet another character in the “Happy Days” universe.

Goodfriend appeared in six episodes of the show as Ethel “Sunshine” Akalino, which only lasted a single season. The show starred Nancy Walker and featured other familiar “Happy Days” faces like Scott Baio. It was one of the least successful spin-off attempts the show made, paling in comparison to the likes of “Mork & Mindy” and “Laverne & Shirley.”