‘Happy Days’: How Marion Ross Once Came to Co-Star’s Rescue After Their Home Was Destroyed

by Matthew Wilson
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“Happy Days” co-stars had to stick together. Marion Ross, who played Mrs. Cunningham on the show, once came to the rescue of her co-star. Audiences may best remember Pat Morita for his role in the “Karate Kid” franchise. But Morita also had a memorable role as Arnold on the sitcom.

In 1978, an intense Pacific storm hit the West Coast. At the time, Morita lived in Tarzana, California with his wife and children. The downpour from the storm caused mudslides throughout the state. During the storm, a large mudslide struck Morita’s house. According to the late actor, a total of “33,000 cubic feet of mud” smashed into the house

In an interview with the Archive of American Television, Morita described the carnage of the day. For instance, a nearby house went rolling down the hill into the street below. Morita and his family were slightly luckier. Morita told the outlet, “[The mud] filled our pool, banged through the house, and literally, there was three feet of mud in the house and all through the house.”

Marion Ross Came to Pat Morita’s Rescue

Marion Ross lived near Pat Morita. And she had been keeping an eye on the news on the radio. She overheard reports of the massive mudslide tearing through the area. And she instantly feared for her “Happy Days” co-star. Many might have stayed hunkered down in the storm. But Ross decided to leave the safety of her home to see if she could help Morita.

“She came in her heels,” Morita said. “She was finely dressed and everything and expressing such heartbreak and grief.”

By the time Ross arrived, Morita’s home had taken a beating. The family was trying to salvage what they could through all of the mud. But it was a difficult and heartbreaking effort for the “Happy Days” actor. Even though she had nice close on, Ross decided to help in the efforts. She dug through the wreckage of the house, getting all muddy in the process.

It’s something that Morita never forgot.

“She was in the mud,” Morita said. Ross would pick up items to show Morita, scavenging through the house.”‘Here, honey, does this mean anything? [Or] Can we save that?'”

They may have been co-stars on “Happy Days” but they ended up becoming friends in real life. Morita and Ross stayed friends until Morita passed away in 2005. According to him, Ross helped because “That’s the mother in her.”

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