On This Day: ‘Happy Days’ Stars Ron Howard, Don Most Make Final Regular Appearances in 1980

by Joe Rutland

Ron Howard and Don Most decided it was time to leave “Happy Days.” On this day in 1980, they made their final regular appearances on the show.

Howard played Richie Cunningham while Most played Ralph Malph. Howard’s character was one of the show’s main stars; Most’s character was in a supporting role.

That changed in this episode, though, for Most. “Ralph’s Family Problem,” which aired on May 6, 1980, put the spotlight on Malph as his parents tell him they’re divorcing after 20 years of marriage. Jack Dodson played Dr. Mickey Malph, Ralph’s father, in the “Happy Days” episode.

‘Happy Days’ Episode Concludes Show’s Seventh Season On ABC

OK, classic TV fans. Put on your thinking caps. Where have you heard Jack Dodson’s name before? Give up? Dodson played Howard Sprague on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

This episode was part of the seventh season of “Happy Days” on ABC. It was directed by Jerry Paris who, in his acting days, had a recurring role on CBS’s “The Dick Van Dyke Show.”

“Happy Days” ran for 11 seasons, but Howard and Most decided it was time to leave. During this period of time, a lot of the show’s focus was around Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler. More and more, scripts spotlighted Winkler’s character…one which, in the beginning, was a supporting role, too.

Howard and Winkler were friends then and remain so today. But Howard found himself wanting to follow his lifelong dream of being a director, which he did and still does after leaving the show.

Most Said Show Was Set Up Like It Was In Order To Be Timeless

Time can be a great teacher. For Don Most, it has provided him with a sense of perspective on “Happy Days.”

A lot of people may find it hard to believe that Most has been spending a good part of his life away from TV shows. He’s been focusing on his music career, finding comfort in jazz songs and standards along the lines of ones performed by Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, and Ella Fitzgerald.

Yet Most talked about his time on the show in a 2017 interview with The Boise Beat. He said that “Happy Days” is a show “that is not going to get dated” thanks to its period-piece nature.

“People can look back at the ’50s and that will never change,” Most said. “People like to harken back to that simpler, more innocent time as an escape from the chaos and different pace of living that we all find ourselves in now as compared to the ’50s.”

Most said, “People enjoy that, so that’s a part of it that is in its own special little niche.” Viewers enjoy it more through reruns and live in their own “Happy Days” worlds.