“Happy Days” star Ted McGinley had a face for TV. And that’s all he had for TV, or so he thought. See, the Roger Phillips actor had done little more than appear in a few commercials when ABC came knocking. So he studied up on the first six seasons worth of the iconic Ron Howard and Henry Winkler-led show. How on earth could he hope to stack up with these guys?
If you’re unfamiliar with “Happy Days,” the Roger Phillips character, or just haven’t seen Ted McGinley in his prime for a while, know that he was a good-looking man. He came from a modeling background and didn’t really know what he was doing.
That didn’t matter all that much to those at the network who saw McGinley in advertisements. His looks alone earned him a screen test.
“I did it, and the next thing I knew, I was on ‘Happy Days.’ It was a very strange sequence of events,” McGinley told The Albuquerque Journal in 1982, per MeTV.
Even during his first appearances on “Happy Days,” he was so raw that he cringed upon watching the performances back.
It’s a wonder they didn’t fire me,” McGinley said. “I realized I had to work on my lines at home and concentrate on the set before my cues. It was all so new. I’m bumbling away, and I hear stories of Ronny Howard, who forgot his lines just twice in seven-and-a-half years.”
The ‘Happy Days’ Addition Went from Thinking He Was Fired to Four Seasons
People train for years to perfect the craft of acting. Yet there McGinley was, handsome, humble, and sorely inexperienced. All of that said, the Roger Phillips actor did a good enough job to spend four seasons and 61 episodes on “Happy Days.”
It just so happens that those were the final seasons on the show, and McGinley would go on to earn a reputation for “killing” several TV classics. Outsider’s Evan Reier took a look at why he earned that title. It boils down to the fact that “Happy Days,” “The Love Boat,” and “Dynasty” all ended a few years after McGinley joined the cast.
In 2004, NBC News talked to McGinley about that reputation. He said he was hurt by some of the things people had claimed, but he also begged to differ with the contention. The way Ted saw it, networks and shows were bringing him in because they were in decline. The “Happy Days” star felt that he played a role, however small, in keeping them on the air longer than they otherwise would have been.
“After I came onto ‘Happy Days’ it went four and a half more seasons. Nowadays, if you could get two shows on the air, you’ve won,” McGinley told NBC.