When you think of classic television relationships, the Cunninghams on Happy Days is up there. But it wasn’t always easy.
In fact, Marion Ross, the legendary actress behind Marion Cunningham, said that she and Tom Bosley didn’t get out the gate in-sync. Instead, the now 92-year-old said that it was a learning process.
“For a couple of years,” Ross said to TODAY in 2018. “Either Tom Bosley had somebody else in mind right at the beginning (of the show) … but I had a very small part at the beginning. My lines were like, ‘Oh, Howard,’ ‘Oh, children, you’re not eating.'”
“So we had to work our way through that,” she added. “Because I learned to love him, I loved him and we became very close friends.”
Tom Bosley passed away in 2010 at the age of 83.
Happy Days Creator on the Cunninghams
One of the reasons why Happy Days was a huge hit was the fact that it displayed a nostalgic view of family. That, plus being set in an idyllic 1950s, took people to a time they either always desired or fondly remembered.
The man behind the show, Garry Marshall, discussed that sentiment in particular in 2015. He elaborated that there were fans that often appreciated the show not just for its comedy and hijinks, but it’s depiction of the Cunninghams.
“One of our most popular episodes was when Fonzie pretended he had somewhere to spend Christmas,” Marshall said. “When really he was home alone. So Richie went around to take him for Christmas at the Cunninghams. For a lot of people, the Cunninghams were the ideal family. They always ate dinner together and would hug all the time.”
It’s a perfect example of what the show attempted to achieve with the Cunningham family. Marshall also expanded on how fan mail proved that to him and other people behind the show.
“A lot of people who were abused growing up used to write to me and say they would watch Happy Days and think: ‘Maybe there’s a better family out there somewhere,’” Marshall said.