‘Happy Days’: Who Did Late Actor Gavan O’Herlihy Play on the Show?

by Matthew Memrick

The late “Happy Days” actor Gavan O’Herlihy played Chuck, an older brother to Ron Howard’s Ritchie Cunningham for seven episodes in 1974.

The 70-year-old actor died on Sept. 15 last month, according to his brother, Cormac O’Herlihy. The man told the Hollywood Reporter that his brother died in Bath, England. That brother did not reveal the man’s official cause of death, according to The New York Post.

Former on-screen brother Howard shared news of the man’s death in a Tweet on Thursday. Fellow co-star Henry Winkler also piggybacked on the social media post, sharing his condolences.

Why Did O’Herlihy Leave “Happy Days?”

The actor starred in seven episodes during the first season of “Happy Days” and credited his name in two additional shows. 

For you “Happy Days” trivia buffs, Randolph Roberts took over the role in Season 2. Ric Carrott played Chuck in the pilot episode.

On Friday, the media website Deadline reported that O’Herlihy would say later that he chose to leave the show due to a lack of screen time.

In another interview, the actor said, “they had me at college; I was going to grunt and bounce a basketball once every couple of weeks for probably three or four years.”

At 20, O’Herlihy said he wanted a bigger gig. He appreciated “Happy Days” because it gave him his big break and established him around Hollywood. He played in the 1989 miniseries “Lonesome Dove,” among other shows.

O’Herlihy’s last film was 2009’s “The Descent Part 2.” According to IMDb, another movie, “Queen of the Redwood Mountains,” was set to come out shortly. In it, he looks to have the lead role.

‘Happy Days’ Stars, Fans Remember Late Actor

Howard called O’Herlihy “a talented actor with a big free spirit.” The two bonded on the “Happy Days” set, and then years later, Howard directed him in the 1988 film “Willow.”

Co-star Winkler said, “Gavin .. Rest In Peace .. It was a pleasure sharing the screen with you!!! You walked up the longest staircase this time.”

Fans wondered about the staircase reference, and Twitter fan David Montgomery replied, “Chuck walked up the staircase to the second floor of the Cunningham’s house and was never seen again.”

One social media fan said O’Herlihy was in one of his favorite death scenes. Paul Gibbs remembered the actor “handing Madmartigan his sword and saying, ‘Win the war for me.’ 

Gibbs went to say, “thanks for the cinematic memories you gave us, Gavan O’Herlihy.”

Born in Dublin, O’Herlihy grew up in Malibu, Calif., and Dublin. He is survived by his wife Juliette and his children, Rogan, Lonan, David, and Daniel.

O’Herlihy talked about his youth growing up in Los Angeles with the (U.K.) Independent in 2013.

The actor said, “To give a child another perspective from L.A. is a great thing. There the sun is powerful, the sea is powerful, the money is powerful. But Dublin in those days held its own power. It was dirty and poor and smelly, and for a young man from California, it had its own magical pull.”