“Happy Days” is remembered as a television show that took its fans on a walk down memory lane to, well, happier days. But, while the show may have presented an idyllic picture of life in the 1950s and 1960s, the early days of production were not that.
According to actor Tom Bosley, the early days of the show were very chaotic. Bosley, who played patriarch Howard Cunningham on the popular sitcom, talked about this during an interview with the Television Academy Foundation in 2000. Bosley passed away in 2010.
“We shot a pilot in October. Thanksgiving Day – Thanksgiving Day – we get a phone call,” Bosley recalled. “The show has been sold. We go into production immediately and the first show will be on the air on Jan. 15.”
According to IMDb.com, the first episode of “Happy Days” aired on Jan. 15, 1974. This quick turnaround was somewhat of a shock to Bosley. And, things only became more stressful.
“This is already the last Thursday in November. (The airing of the first episode) is less than two months,” he said. “We go to Paramount on a Monday. You won’t believe this. The AD died on Friday – the assistant director. There was no producer. No executive producer. A couple of the writers were knighted – you are the producers.”
‘Happy Days’ Actor Tom Bosley Said Show Had ‘No Scripts’ When Filming Began
Making the set of “Happy Days” even more stressful was the fact that the actors and others did not have full scripts to work off of.
“They had no scripts. We were shooting three pages of this episode, and four pages of this episode, and we were changing clothes every five minutes. (Script) pages were coming under the door,” Tom Bosley recalled. “And, it was really hysterical. It was, I mean, somebody should do a special just on how that show came to be.”
When asked why things on the set were so hectic, Bosley said it was because the cast and crew “had no time.”
“They wanted us to get ready and get on the air. We didn’t have any scripts in advance, you know,” Bosley said. “You can’t say the show was sold on Thanksgiving Day and you go to work and have eight shows ready by the 15th of January. It’s just impossible. But, we did it.”
Despite all the chaos, Bosley said he felt they did some very good work on those early “Happy Days” episodes.
“But, we were doing some wonderful stuff about Richie’s first date, Richie’s first drink, Richie’s first car,” he explained. “… We did 39 shows in a year, the first year.”