“Happy Days” fans knew him as Mr. C : a hardware store owner, a Leopard Lodge member, and television’s ultimate dad. But actor Tom Bosley was much more than the Midwestern dad that he played on TV. He was a real life father figure and lifelong friend to his “Happy Days” co-stars.
Bosley passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83, leaving fans and his “Happy Days” co-stars stunned and nostalgic as they remembered him and his body of work, which included 11 years on the ABC sitcom and a starring role on “The Father Dowling Mysteries”.
Actor Donny Most, who played Ralph Malph on the show, appeared on CBS’ “Early Show” on Wednesday to talk about Bosley, saying he had been like a real life father to him back in the 1970’s when “Happy Days” was on the air. Most expressed gratitude for having the chance to spend time with Bosley in Palm Springs recently, shortly after the 83-year-old actor had been diagnosed with lung cancer.
Actor Henry Winkler told EOnline “We were a make-believe family for 10 years, and like a real family for over 30… He will so, so be missed.”
Bosley’s TV son, actor and producer Ron Howard, described him as ” a great father and husband, and a wonderful artist”, saying, “Tom led by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already.”
Bosley’s “Happy Days” character, Howard Cunningham, was one of the most beloved TV fathers of all time. The character of Howard Cunningham gave support and advice to son Richie (Ron Howard), daughter Joanie (Erin Moran) and all of their friends, even taking tough guy Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) under his wing by renting a garage apartment to him.
Because he played the role so well, Tom Bosley will forever be remembered as an Everydad, or at least the kind of dad every one wanted to have.
In the “Happy Days” pilot episode, his character gave son Richie advice about girls, telling him, “Truth is the best answer, believe me.”
In another episode, after Richie came home drunk from a bachelor party after drinking “72 teeny weeny glasses of beer,” Howard told him, “I think it’s time for some teeny weeny cups of coffee.”
And on the “Happy Days” series finale in 1984, Bosley’s character proposed a toast at daughter Joanie’s wedding, reflecting on raising his children with wife Marion and ending with the final words — directed to the “Happy Days” audience — “So thank you all for being part of our family…to happy days!”
Thanks to Tom Bosley for letting us be a part of his.
The Early Show, October 20, 2010 CBS