'Happy Days' are here again

MEDIA MONITOR

March 03, 1992|By Steve McKerrow

"Oh, Happy Days..." went the lyric from the popular sitcom, a clear rejection of any pretension toward the social relevance of other series airing in the same years (1974-84), such as "All in the Family" and "M*A*S*H."

There is a trove of trivia surrounding the show, which is being celebrated on ABC tonight with "The Happy Days Reunion Special." (The program, at 9:30 p.m. on Channel 13, is reviewed on Page 1C in Accent today.)

1. When were the key elements of the series actually first seen? (Tricky.)

2. The originally minor character of The Fonz (Henry Winkler) became the most popular on the show. But what was this character almost named, which might have changed the chemistry?

3. What was the name of the high school attended by Richie (Ron Howard) and the gang, and in what city was it located?

4. What was the name of Richie's brother?

5. Whatever happened to the leather jacket worn by The Fonz?

While you're thinking, note that basic cable's TBS service has scheduled a 2 1/2 -hour "Happy Days" special tomorrow night. The five allegedly best episodes will air in succession from 5:05 p.m.

And now, the quiz results (with sources including "Total Television," by Alex McNeil, and "Cult TV," by John Javna):

1. Most people think the 1973 George Lucas film "American Graffiti" was the source of "Happy Days," but the reverse is true. Mr. Howard and screen mother Marion Ross (with Harold Gould and Susan Neher) appeared in February 1972 in "Love and the Happy Day," an episode of the series "Love, American Style."

Producer Garry Marshall's pilot (originally titled "New Family in Town") had already been rejected by ABC. But Mr. Lucas reportedly saw the pilot and took it as the inspiration for "American Graffiti," with Mr. Howard in a lead role. Naturally, the popularity of the movie led ABC to reconsider its series turn-down.

2. The Fonz, of course, was Arthur Fonzarelli. But Mr. Marshall originally had named him by his own real last name: Marscharelli. ("The Marsch?" Just doesn't work.)

3. The guys went to Jefferson High School in Milwaukee.

4. Richie had a seldom-seen brother (for two seasons) named Chuck, played by Gavin O'Herlihy and Randolph Roberts those two years.

5. The Fonz' jacket is now on exhibit at the Smithsonian.

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