Books could be, and probably have been, written about the making of Happy Days. It will go down as one of the greatest television series of all time. Matter of fact is it’s 41 on The Hollywood Report’s top 100 shows and won numerous Emmy’s and Golden Globes.
Until the unfortunate Cunningham sibling Chuck, the show stayed on the air for eleven seasons and made many of television’s greatest and worst moments. It also created two industry terms; the Chuck above became the “Chuck Cunningham Syndrom” where the main character is written out of a series, never to return again. Chuck was Richie’s older brother that went upstairs to get a basketball and never came back downstairs.
Another industry term that Happy Days spawned is one that many don’t know the origins of, but use anyway. There was a three-part series of Happy Days called “Hollywood” that many critics consider the start of the downward spiral the show took in quality. In this three-parter, Fonzie jumps over sharks on water skis and still wearing his leather jacket. The term “Jumped The Shark” has been used to reference when television shows lost their quality in later seasons.
The influence that the show had on pop culture was enormous as the show spawned a slew of merchandise including board games, lunch boxes, toys, and clothes. It also spawned two almost as iconic television series with Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. This was a power that the network knew how to use for good. Producer Garry Marshall was approached by a literacy group about using the show to help get children to read. This was an easy task as Marshall just had Fonzie check a book out of the library saying “Everybody is allowed to read.” Registration for library cards grew by 500-percent in one week!
Marshall once shared another tail that at the height of the show’s popularity the studio received a letter from a fan that was contemplating suicide and wanted to talk to Fonzie before the end. Actor Henry Winkler spoke to the fan, convincing him to give life another chance and a pep-talk about life.
Happy Days is a classic show for a reason, it was funny, it was warm, and it was family entertainment the likes hasn’t been seen since.