When you hear the words “Happy Days” it’s hard not to start instantly singing the iconic theme song in your head. “Sunday, Monday, Happy Days…”
The popular show, which ran for a total of eleven seasons, followed the life of a middle-class American family during the 1950s.
The show itself was the brainchild of famed film director and producer Garry Marshall, running from Jan. 15, 1974 to Sept. 24, 1984.
Marion Ross played Mrs. Cunningham for the show’s entirety. During its lifespan, she never could have imagined the show would become a major part of American pop culture history.
Prior to her casting, Ross says she was a struggling actress, sometimes making below minimum wage.
“I was doing this play and then my agent calls and says, ‘You have to try out for this pilot for ‘Love and the Happy Days,’” recalled Ross. “I did the pilot as the mother and then I went back to the theater. My agent then said, ‘Get out of that play. They’ve picked up this pilot … And my part (in the show as Marion Cunningham) kept getting better and better.”
However, for the first couple of years of the show, Ross said that she and her on-screen husband, played by Tom Bosley, didn’t exactly “click.”
“I had a very small part at the beginning,” she said. “My lines were like, ‘Oh, Howard,’ ‘Oh, children, you’re not eating.'”
But as the show grew in popularity, so did Ross’ importance as a staple in the cast, which brought she and Bosley closer together.
“Because I learned to love him, I loved him and we became very close friends.”
Ross firmly believes that the reason “Happy Days” had such long-lasting success was due in part to the close-knit relationships the cast built together.
One of the ways they did that was by playing softball. “We had a wonderful softball team because all the boys were very good athletes,” she said.
“Ron Howard played right field. Scott Baio was a wonderful first base. Garry Marshall, he loved softball and played first base on a lot of the games.”
— Billy Krumb (@ClubhouseCancer) July 20, 2016
Can you imagine such an all-star cast hitting the softball field together? Complete with uniforms.
“It kept the cast together. I don’t know if we would have survived if we didn’t have that softball team,” Ross stated.
During their travels, the actors even played softball with the U.S. third infantry while visiting Germany and with the U.S. Marines while in Okinawa.
Now retired from acting, the 89-year-old has released a new memoir titled “My Days: Happy and Otherwise,” which chronicles her journey through Hollywood and life behind the scenes of the legendary television show.
Ross says that even today, she and her former “Happy Days” castmates are still close friends.
“We took our time (on ‘Happy Days’) very, very seriously. It bonded us. We became so close… We were children at play.”
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