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Happy Days

By Fish

I was eight years old when this series first aired in 1974. I was a fan then and still remain so today. For me however, it was the first two seasons which represented the best of Happy Days.

For those of you who follow these things, in the fall of 1975 Happy Days made some significant format changes. Most notable is they began to videotape live in front of a studio audience. This meant that the sets needed to be adjusted (ever notice how the Cunningham livingroom/dining room expanded into one large open-spaced area), and outdoor shoots were used far less frequently. The character of FONZIE became central and he moved into the Cunningham's guest room above the garage. New characters such as Arnold and Chachi were introduced, while semi regular cast members of the past like Demon-member "Bag" and Ritchie's older basketball crazed brother Chuck were never seen or heard of again.

The original concept of this program was for the viewer to follow the escapades of two high school pals (Ritchie and Potsie), in the mid 1950's. Happy Days focused on what life was like for teens in this era (everything from drag racing, rock concerts, buying your first set of wheels, dating through to coping with bullies,) albeit in a light and humorous manner. There were even some episodes which dealt with racism and the genuine fear of atomic war. Remember when Howard conceded to giving up his bomb shelter when Ritchie convinced him it was better to live now than survive later?

Henry Winkler's Fonzie character had real magic right from the start - even though the producers felt more at ease having him wear a white sport's coat because a black leather jacket would make him appear too thuggish. Truly he stole any scene he was in. Initially Fonzie was soft spoken, moved with a Zen-like grace and truly displayed a believable street smart persona. It was always a thrill to get to a scene that involved Fonzie. It is little wonder that the producers gave Winkler 2nd billing in 1975 (third season) and made him the central character of the show. It worked. By the 4rth season in 1976, Happy Days was the number 1 program on television. For me, however, the happiest of days had already passed.

When Happy Days changed formats in 1975, the show moved away from being a light, humorous, expose of teens growing up in the 1950's and became much more of a slapstick-like comedy. The characters became louder and their personalities were stretched to the max, at times to the brink of the ridicules. Fonzie in particular became a television icon right up there in the ranks of Archie Bunker. However this was only achieved after his character became animated and he was allowed to possess powers even superman would be envious to have. In terms of a program that makes a person feel a little lighter, a little happier for having spent a half an hour watching it, Happy Days has to be given it's due credit. And I think this program achieved this escapist effect throughout it's entire 10 year run. For me however those first two seasons will always hold a special place in my heart. So when I hear that old juke box queuing up a record and Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock blasts out, I know I am in for a half hour of magic and laughter.

Happy Days on DVD!
Happy Days is now available on DVD! Get it at!
Season One


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Check out our Happy Days forum! Do you have a favorite episode of the show? What do you remember about the series? Do you have any questions about it or its stars? Now you can post comments and questions directly to our TV forums! Click here to see what other Happy Days viewers have said or to post your own comments about the show!

Your Memories Shared!

After buying the house i grew up in from my parents several years ago, it was time to do some remodeling. The room that was my parents since we moved in in 1970 was now going to be my bedroom. After ripping down all of the old paneling, I came across one wall which my father had let me, as well as my younger brother and sister, mark up with magic markers, as the paneling was going over the old wall anyway. It was at this time I noticed in the writings was "Fonzie is cool", "Mickey is a mouse", "Eddie is Fonzie" (my name), as well as several other Happy Days references. A bit of our own family time capsule, if you will. After the paneling was off, we left the old sheet rock and put a thin layer of new rock over it. Perhaps in another 20 years or so, the Happy Days wall shall be uncovered once again!


Note: This is just a random sample of the Happy Days messages in our TV forums! Click here to see what others have said or to post your own comments!



Aired: January 15, 1974 - July 12, 1984

Cast: Henry Winkler, Tom Bosley, Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Anson Williams, Donny Most, Erin Moran, Pat Morita, Al Molinaro, Scot Baio

Network: ABC

Genre: Sitcom

Theme songRock Around the Clock - Bill Haley & the Comets

Image courtesy of ABC

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Henry Winkler Videos and DVDs!
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Tom Bosley Videos and DVDs!

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