While Roz Kelly got her big break on Happy Days as Pinky Tuscadero, the actress already had a fascinating career before starring on the hit sitcom.
Actor Henry Winkler‘s character “The Fonz” had become a household name as the cool guy greaser on the show. Women loved Fonzie and men wanted to emulate him. However, no female character ever truly held Arthur Fonzarelli’s attention; until Pinky Tuscadero entered the frame.
Even though Happy Days was the native New Yorker’s first big acting gig, Kelly was already hanging around many entertainers. Before her iconic role as Pinky, she modeled for famed American photographer Diane Arbus. In fact, Kelly was a photographer herself as well. In 1966, New York Magazine hired Kelly for her first professional photography assignment.
The photographer would go on to shoot numerous famous stars including the iconic NYC artist Andy Warhol. Yet her most famous photographs are of guitar legend Jimi Hendrix after tracking him down in his NYC hotel for New York Magazine.
Years later, Kelly spoke with her old publication. She explained how she convinced the magazine to take on her work. It wasn’t far off from the same confident attitude that earned her the role of Pinky Tuscadero.
“The magazine staff thought my work was wonderful,” Kelly said. “Well, actually, everything I do is wonderful — it gets me in a lot of trouble.”
How ‘Happy Days’ Creator Came up With Fonzie’s Girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero
Happy Days creator Garry Marshall once opened up about what inspired him to create Fonzie‘s girlfriend Pinky Tuscadero. In 2000, Marshall gave a career-spanning interview to the Television Academy Foundation and of course, touched on his work on the classic sitcom.
Tuscadero came up in the interview, and Marshall explained that, “Fonzie finally got a girl that was his equal.” Additionally, he called Tuscadero’s debut episode a personal “favorite” of his. Marshall went on to explain the amusing story behind how he created the Happy Days role.
“I was driving with my family to Carmel, California – a lovely place we took a vacation to – and the car broke down. So while we’re waiting on the AAA, I’m really upset. The kids are crying, it’s hot, and I’m getting aggravated. My wife says, ‘Walk around, you’ll think of something. You’ll make something up, something will happen,’” the Happy Days creator explained.
“And I looked up, and the name of the exit was Tuscadero. That’s a great name. All my kids have these pink things on… I said, ‘That’s the character. I just got it.’ ‘What?’ she said. ‘Pinky Tuscadero, that’s a character.’ ‘Well, which show?’” Marshall amusingly recalled from the roadside conversation he had with his wife.