“Happy Days” are here again!
The close-knit cast of the megahit 1970s sitcom came together on Wednesday, speaking with ET’s Kevin Frazier about their memories of their time together and how they’ve managed to stay such close friends.
“We acted together, we played charades together, [we played charity] softball all over the world together,” Henry Winkler shared.
“It feels like if somebody had a script and put some marks on the ground we could just do an episode,” Ron Howard added.
“That’s the one reason the show was so successful too,” Anson Williams chimed in. “There was chemistry, there’s just immediate connection. The minute we’re together there’s just that it factor.”
The stars of the beloved long-running comedy — Winkler, Howard, Williams, Don Most and Marion Ross — reunited at the Jonathan Club in Los Angeles for the Garry Marshall Theater’s 3rd Annual Founder’s Gala.
The cast of “Happy Days” had no shortage of incredible memories of Marshall, and of their time being the stars of the biggest show in TV.
“It was an amazing change in your life,” said Winkler, who famously played the cool greaser Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. “People wanted my socks without taking off my shoes.”
“It was kind of like the boy band of the moment. It was that kind of pandemonium. And a lot of it was just focused on trying to get his socks,” Howard — who starred as Richie Cunningham — recalled. “Somebody grabbed my hat and, even back when I had hair I liked to wear a hat, but they grabbed my hat [and] I actually went and got it.”
“That’s the only time I’ve lost my temper in a situation like that,” Howard added.
However, it was this level of fame that led to some problems between the network and the cast. Specifically, Fonzie’s popularity skyrocketed so quickly that the execs wanted to retool the show to focus on him specifically — and this almost led to Howard quitting.
“They did come to me and said, ‘Well the network would kind of like to change the name of the show to ‘Fonzie’s Happy Days’.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t think I wanna be in that show. I wanna be in ‘Happy Days’ and I think Henry should have, you know, every opportunity to do everything — that’s fantastic — but you know, I signed on for this other thing and I just really don’t wanna do that. I think I’d go back to film school,'” Howard explained.
“The one producer who wasn’t there was Garry Marshall,” Howard continued. “In fact, he was standing outside and he said, ‘How’d that go in there?’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t wanna upset everybody and disappoint everybody, and I love Henry and I love the show, but I just, I just don’t feel good about that.’ And he said, ‘It’s not gonna happen then.’ And that was that.”
As it turns out, fans have Marshall to thank for the Fonz’s iconic leather jacket and general greaser vibe.
Execs wanted to tone down his radical rebelliousness and tough-guy image — essentially, everything that made Fonzie so popular — and that included having him rock a cloth coat. Because, as Winkler explained, the higher-ups “thought I’d be associated with crime,” if he wore a leather jacket.
It was Marshall who convinced them to make an exception that became the rule.
“So he went to ABC said, ‘You know, he could be hurt if he wears the cloth and is riding a motorcycle.’ And they said, ‘OK, when he’s with his bike, he can wear leather!'” Winkler recalled. “And Garry [just] went down to the payphone, he called the writers room, he said, ‘Never write another scene without his bike.'”
“He really cared about us. More than [as] actors. He really inspired us to learn,” Williams said of the late director. “Because he said [we might], ‘Wanna wear many hats.'”
“Garry was a natural a natural teacher and he loved collecting theories and axioms about life but also making a show,” Howard recalled. “They were all hilarious but they all rang true and they were great lessons.”
Check out the video below for more behind-the-scenes stories from “Happy Days”.