‘Happy Days’ Actor Tom Bosley Explained How Last Season was a ‘Thank You’ from ABC

by Suzanne Halliburton
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Happy Days enjoyed an incredible run. It was especially popular in the mid-1970s, when Fonzie was the biggest pop culture figure in the country and everyone wanted to be friends with Richie and the gang.

But Happy Days gradually lost its charm. The teenagers grew up. Fonzie jumped a shark. And ABC pulled the plug.

Tom Bosley, who as Howard Cunningham was the country’s dad, said the network gave them an extra year for a job well done. Bosley offered his thoughts on Happy Days during a 2000 interview with the Archive of American Television.

“I think the network was extremely generous to us by giving us that last year,” Bosley said of Happy Days. “It was their way of saying thank you for the 10 years. Because, you know, we were a big force for ABC and a tremendous force for Paramount. We built their new commissary, their new restaurant. We built all kinds of things there.”

Happy Days was a lucrative series for ABC and Paramount. It ran from 1974-84 and produced 255 episodes, all of which went into syndication.

In addition, Happy Days was responsible for several spinoffs — Laverne & Shirley; Blansky’s Beauties; Mork & Mindy and Joanie Loves Chachi. Laverne & Shirley ran for eight seasons and was No. 1 in the country in 1977-78 and 1978-79. Mork & Mindy, which introduced the country to Robin Williams, was on the air for four years. It was No. 3 nationally in its debut season in 1978-79. So yes, Happy Days truly gave ABC some financially happy days.

Happy Days Ratings Started to Fall As Characters Left

But the series started falling in the ratings after key characters left Happy Days. Ron Howard, as Richie Cunningham, bowed out after seven seasons. On the show, Richie joined the Army. He was married to girlfriend Lori Beth. And the two had a son named Richie Jr. Plus, Donny Most, who played Richie’s friend Ralph Malph, also left the show with Howard.

Scott Baio rejoined the cast as a full-timer in the 11th season after ABC canceled the spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi. But Fonzie’s cousin wasn’t going to carry the show in what would be its final season. Plus, Fonzie also tried to adopt a child as a single dad. The series slipped to 63rd in the national ratings.

The series finale featured a wedding between Joanie and Chachi. Richie came back to see his kid sister get married to her sweetheart. And Tom Bosley, as Mr. C, gave a wedding toast directed towards the camera and the television audience.

“Thank you all for being part of our family,” said Bosley. “To happy days.”

Tom Bosley died in 2010. He was 83.

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