‘Happy Days’: Creator Garry Marshall’s Original Name for the Series Got Blasted by Focus Groups

by Keeli Parkey

“Happy Days” is a television show that beloved by millions of fans. Whether you watched the show when it originally aired or watched it as reruns, chances are you loved it. With its unique cast of characters and humorous storylines, this television show remains great entertainment to this day.

The show ran on ABC for 11 seasons. It premiered in 1974 and ended its popular run in 1984. According to Fox News, the show that made its viewers long for the happy days of the 1950s almost wasn’t called “Happy Days” at all.

Garry Marshall, the show’s creator, originally did not have the name “Happy Days” in mind. According to the article, Marshall planned to call the show “Cool.”

As it happens with many television shows even to this day, the show – and its title – were put to the test of focus groups. And, those groups reportedly did not like the title “Cool” for the show one bit.

Marshall reportedly talked about the change in the show’s name in his book, “Wake Me When It’s Funny.”

In that book, according to the article, Marshall wrote: “Test audiences thought (“Cool”) was about Eskimos who might have smoked.”

Original Title for ‘Happy Days’ Was ‘Cool’

That show might be a funny idea, actually. However, “Cool” was not the best title for the show we know as “Happy Days.”

Even though Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, was the definition of “cool,” it’s difficult to imagine the show being known as anything other than “Happy Days.”

Also, you can just hear the theme song playing in your head when you think about the show. “Sunday, Monday, Happy Days / Tuesday, Wednesday, Happy Days / Thursday, Friday, Happy Days / The weekend comes, my cycle hums / Ready to race to you,” part of the lyrics say. You can check out one version of the show’s theme song and opening credits below.

During the development of this classic television show, Marshall and company worked diligently to make it into the success it became. Key to that success, many would argue, was the casting of Henry Winkler as Fonzie.

It’s difficult to imagine anyone other than Henry Winkler playing “The Fonz” on the show. However, he wasn’t the only actor considered for the part. Micky Dolenz, a Hollywood star and member of the popular band The Monkees, also auditioned to be Fonzie.

Luckily for Winkler – and fans of “Happy Days” – Marshall thought Dolenz was too tall to play the part. Marshall reportedly wanted all the actors in the cast to be of similar height. Since Dolenz was six feet tall, they decided to cast Winkler because he is shorter.

Isn’t it funny how things work out? Winkler’s work as Fonzie is one of the most iconic portrayals in the history of television.