Image via WikipediaA few days ago Barbara Billingsley passed away. She was the mother that everyone growing up in the late fifties and early sixties wished they had, portaying June Cleaver, the mother of Wally and Beaver in "Leave It To Beaver." I didn't do a post on it because, as a general rule, I don't post obits since so many other news outlets and blogs already do and I don't feel I have anything new to offer. But today, we learned that another TV matriarch, embedded in the psychic of the viewing public has passed away as well.
I'm speaking of course of Tom Bosley, father to Richie (Ron Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran) Cunningham, and respectfully referred to as "Mr. C." by Fonzie (Henry Winkler) on the long running ABC hit "Happy Days."
Being of the age when I grew up with both shows, (although for Beaver it would be mostly as daytime reruns) this almost feels like losing a close relative in the family, especially since when a loved one dies you are left with only memories of them. Losing TV icons that you grew up with is the same when you think about it because when you regularly watch a show you like it is as if they have become a part of your life. And once again, even though you didn't know a performer in real life, you feel that through the shows they appeared in, they were actually a part of your life.
And that is why I decided to post this article on Tom Bosley. My memory of his portrayal of Howard Cunningham is that of a father almost everyone wished for.
Thomas Edward "Tom" Bosley was born on October 1, 1927 in Chicago. Besides "Happy Days", he had roles as the sheriff on "Murder She Wrote" with Angela Lansbury and as the title character on "Father Dowling Mysteries" as well as the title role in the Pulitzer Prize winning "Fiorello!"
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the family said that Bosley died of heart failure. His agent, Sheryl Abrams, said Bosley also was battling lung cancer. Services for the actor will be private. The family also asked that donations be made to the American Cancer Society on his behalf.
"Happy Days", incidentally ran for more than 250 episodes, airing on Tuesday nights from 1974-84. It catapulted Henry Winkler to fame as Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarella, and was number one in the ratings from 1976-77. TV Guide ranked Howard Cunningham at No. 9 on its list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in 2004. Several hit series were spun off of "Happy Days," including "Laverne & Shirley", "Mork & Mindy", and "Joanie Loves Chachi." Okay, so the last show wasn't exactly a hit, but it has lasted in the lore that is television. One last tidbit. The phrase "Jumping The Shark" was coined over a "Happy Days" episode in which Fonzie skis over a shark tank in response to a challenge. Read all about what the meaning of it has become since by clicking here.