A couple of years ago, the wife and I were asked by our friends Jill Murray and Greg Kuppinger to give the toast at their wedding. We worked long and hard on the speech. Debated wording, thought about phrases, really slaved over the details.
When we finally stood in front of their friends and family members, it went beautifully—even the closing line, which I insisted on saying. “Now let’s all raise our glasses in honor of Jill and Greg. And to quote Mr. C from the final episode of Happy Days, ‘May all your days be Happy Days.'”
I bring this up because, just a few moments ago, I learned of the passing of Tom Bosley, the wonderful actor who played Howie Cunningham on Happy Days for 11 years. I am incredibly sad.
There are a handful of shows I’ve loved throughout my life—Voyagers, Entourage, The Cosby Show—but nothing touches my devotion and appreciation of Happy Days, the greatest TV program of all time. As opposed to a lot of the crap on the 450 channels today, Happy Days was simple, creative and oddly elegant. The premise was basic: Follow a Milwaukee-based family in the 1950s. The characters were embraceable and relatively non-complex: Mr. C, Mrs. C, Richie, Joanie, Ralph, Potsy, Al and—of course—the Fonz. I guess what I loved—and still love—was the innocence of it all. Richie trying to score chicks with his geeky awkwardness. The Fonz as this James Dean-type. Mr. and Mrs. C—who could be any one of my friends’ parents. There was “necking” at Inspiration Point, sodas and burgers at Arnold’s, Fonzie jumping over a bunch of barrels on his motorcycle.
I don’t think Bosley was the star of Happy Days, but he was the glue. The man was blessed with wonderful dryness and comedic timing, and I often wished I could be transported to his house.
RIP, Mr. C.
PS: Interestingly, I had the last line wrong. The final words of the show’s final episode was “To happy days!” Personally, I like my line more. 🙂