Tag Archives: Harold Gould

HAPPY DAYS & HAPPY NIGHTS

15 Jan

 

“Happy Days” marquee at Paramount studios, 1979.

37 years ago tonight, on Tuesday, January 15, 1974 the 1950s came to life on TV screens across America when “Happy Days” premiered on ABC.          

The main characters from “Happy Days”

What many don’t realize is that “Happy Days” was first introduced almost two years earlier in a segment of the anthology series “Love, American Style.” I remember seeing the episode and the segment, called “Love and the Happy Days,” when it first aired in February 1972. Actors Ron Howard, Marion Ross, and Anson Williams were in both the segment and the series. One notable difference was the casting of Harold Gould as Howard Cunningham.

The original cast of “Happy Days”

It’s easy to tell that this is a very early publicity shot from “Happy Days.” Aside from the young age of Erin Moran as Joanie, we see the Cunningham’s oldest child, Chuck. Originally portrayed by Gavan O’Herlihy, the character of Chuck was never given much to say or do and by 1975 he was unceremoniously dumped into the TV trash bin, never to be heard from again. It was like he never existed.

The other clue that this is an early publicity shot is that Fonzie is wearing a cloth jacket. ABC feared that if the character wore a leather jacket he might come across as a hoodlum. But as the show grew in popularity Fonzie wore that leather jacket and Henry Winkler became a star of the show.

Henry Winkler as the Fonz.

I previously discussed a conversation I had with Winkler in 1977, so I won’t rehash it here. But he told me that ABC Entertainment President Fred Silverman actually wanted to change the name of the show to “Fonzie’s Happy Days.”

Notice the foreshadowing in this Henry Winkler Fact Sheet. Near the bottom Winkler notes that he “can teach water-skiing.” Can you say “jump the shark?”

By the way, one of the writers of that first episode of “Happy Days” was Rob Reiner. In 1974 he was best known as an actor on “All in the Family” but at the time he was also the brother-in-law of “Happy Days” producer Garry Marshall.

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RHODA HAS LEFT THE BUILDING

9 Dec

32 years ago tonight, on Saturday, December 9, 1978, the sit-com “Rhoda” aired the final episode of its primetime, network run.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show” spun off 3 shows in the 1970s: “Lou Grant,” “Phyllis,” and of course, “Rhoda,” all on CBS.

Autographed photo of Valerie Harper sent to fans of “Rhoda” in 1975.

 As portrayed by Valerie Harper, the character of Rhoda Morgenstern became a fan favorite on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” so it was no surprise when producers gave the character her own series. The 1970s were, after all, a decade of spin-offs.

Rhoda” is famous for its wedding episode, where the character took the New York City subway to her own wedding while wearing her gown. But I best remember two of the jokes from the opening sequence of “Rhoda.” (You remember when TV shows had theme songs, right?)

Cast photo sent to fans of “Rhoda” in 1975.

 Rhoda explains, “I was born in New York… in December… 1941.” Then concedes she always felt responsible for World War II. How great is that line as a way to reveal something about the character? Although most people tuning in would have known Rhoda from “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” this was a terrific way to introduce new viewers to the kind of misplaced guilt felt by Miss Rhoda Morgenstern.

The other memorable laugh line was when Rhoda says she grew up in New York, but moved to Minneapolis where it’s cold and she figured she’d “keep better.”

The envelope that contained the photos shown above is postmarked November 26, 1975.

Don’t you love how they put Valerie Harper’s name above the studio address on the envelope? It’s as if they want to make it look like she sent it from home.

Rhoda” ran on CBS for four seasons. It premiered in September 1974 on Monday nights at 9:30pm (ET) and remained on Mondays until January 1977. It moved to Sunday nights before ending its run with a 3 month stay on Saturdays.

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