When Happy Days premiered in 1974, most of the actors who played the teenagers in the cast were in their early 20s. And Tom Bosley was like a dad to them all.
Bosley portrayed Howard Cunningham, aka Mr. C, the father of Richie and Joanie and the surrogate dad to Richie’s friends Ralph Malph and Potsie, and even the Fonz. They all took it hard when Bosley died in October, 2010. It was like losing a parent.
Don Most, who played Ralph, lauded Bosley in interviews after he died. Bosley was 83 when he passed away of lung cancer in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Most talked with The Early Show in LA about Bosley. Most said he was 20 when he landed the role on Happy Days. He moved to Los Angeles and didn’t really know anyone. The cast became his “West Coast” family.
“He saw us go through our … marriages, getting our first homes,” Most said of Bosley. “He really was our Dad in so many ways.”
Most Said He Saw Former Happy Days Star a Month Before He Died
Most said he was able to see Bosley about a month before he died.
“I knew he’d been diagnosed recently with lung cancer,” Most said. “And my wife and I went out to visit with him and his lovely life, Patti out in the Palm Springs area. We had a wonderful visit and went to one of his favorite restaurants. And (he) just had a chance to really catch up and just be with each other. I’m really glad that I got to spend that time with him, just recently.”
Most said Bosley was doing well during their visit.
“He was undergoing treatment and had a great attitude,” Most said of everyone’s favorite Dad on Happy Days. “He was strong, and he was fighting. He had a strong overview of where he was at, but he was hopeful. He was doing great. It was great to see him that way.”
Bosley Said He’d Tell Fans He Was ‘Good Father’ Because Someone Wrote the Words
In an interview 10 years before he died, Bosley said he still received letters from fans of Happy Days. He played a father from 1950s Middle America so well, everyone adored him.
Bosley said the letters would start, “‘I wish you were like my father.’ And I tell them, ‘No you don’t. Because, you see, in television, I’m a good father because somebody writes words that I say. But when I go home to my family, I have to ad-lib 24 hours a day.”
Bosley went home each night after Happy Days to his own family. His first wife, Jean, suffered with brain cancer for the first part of the show’s run. Bosley also had to raise their only child, Amy Baer, who now is one of the most successful women in Hollywood.
She worked with Sony Pictures Entertainment for 17 years and was in charge of such films as My Best Friend’s Wedding and Something’s Gotta Give. She also developed the hit Moneyball, which starred Brad Pitt. Her movies have grossed more than $2 billion at the box office.