Poster: Mr. Television
(see this users gallery)
Happy Days aired from January 1974 until July 1984 on ABC.
For everything you need to know about Happy Days go to Happy Days Online right here at Sitcoms Online.
Here's an article from Time Magazine talking about the mid-season shows of the 1973-1974 season including Happy Days.
Monday, Apr. 29, 1974 By RICHARD SCHICKEL Article
Television's second season is that midwinter's madness time when network leaders turn upon their pack of shows. They mercilessly thin out the old, the weak and the lame, while encouraging the newborn to join their endless trek across the TV tundra. This year the second season has produced three newcomers that seem certain to survive into the 1974-75 season. They are:
Good Times. CBS. Friday, 8:30-9 p.m. E.D.T. Already renewed for next season, this is yet another "relevant" sitcom spun off the earlier creations of Tandem Productions (All in the Family, Sanford and Son, Maude). Indeed, Florida (Esther Rolle) used to be Maude's maid. Now relocated in a Chicago housing project, she is seen as the matriarch of a black family that talks Burbank jive and is short of money. But in composition, attitudes and ambitions, the household is indistinguishable from the white families that heretofore have had exclusive domain in this TV neighborhood. There is one adolescent of each gender whose prime function is to be cute and awkward about sexual awakening; a precocious kid brother who always understands more than people think he does about what's "going down"; a good-natured father who is either baffled or angry about his brood, but not much good at problem solving. Mom, of course, is warm and wise.
As with the other Tandem shows, the gags on Good Times are often slickly pleasingly crafted. But the occasional references to sociologically sober matters seem to spring less from conscience than from a need to create product identity. That is no less a formula than anyone else's formula and no less tiresome.
Happy Days. ABC. Tuesday, 8-8:30 p.m. E.D.T. This is the American Graffiti rip-off in which the producers made off with the movie's star (Ron Howard) and its ambience (smalltown America in the 1950s), but with none of the sensitivity and sensibility that made the film memorable.
Graffiti's adolescents were caught at a moment of subtle tension, when their comfortable pleasure with the familiar was challenged by their yearnings for a larger, more stimulating world,a world that scared them, yet beckoned them on into adulthood. Happy Days' teen-agers hang around the same drive-ins, drive the same hot-rods, listen to the same rock music, but otherwise bear no resemblance to Graffiti's kids. Instead they are the inheritors of the Henry Aldrich tradition, in which the awkwardness, sexual inexperience and general un-worldliness of youth are good only for an indulgent, nostalgic laugh. They are never touched by honest rue, let alone intimations of tragedy. The program is full of period references Mickey Spillane, stuffing telephone booths, a wondrous new gadget known as the seat belt but there is never a reference to the human heart.
The Six Million Dollar Man. ABC. Friday, 8:30-9:30 p.m. E.D.T. This may be the top-rated prime-time show among the nation's six-to-ten-year-olds-and it is not doing badly with their parents either. It is easy to understand the lads' interest-Colonel Steve Austin (Lee Majors), an astronaut badly battered in a crash and given a number of better-than-life replacement parts by NASA'S doctors, is an update on that old favorite of the latency period, Superman. Like Krypton's favorite son, he can run fast, leap far and has a reasonable approximation of X-ray vision. Better still, when he gets wounded (at least once a week) it is always an occasion to haul out the old screwdriver and rewire him. These scenes are bound to appeal to every child who ever got his own computer-construction kit for Christmas.
What adults see in Steve is hard to imagine, but it is probably that touch of soul the scientists forgot to remove when they were tinkering with him. On loan to a supersecret U.S. intelligence agency, Austin is always brooding that his control (Richard Anderson) has forgotten that Austin is something more than a machine, that he has feelings too. Generally he expresses himself on this point by busting down a wall, which cannot be all that reassuring to Anderson, but is entirely typical of the show's subtle approach. It is so bad it is funny, and that is doubtless the source of its strong appeal. Richard Schickel
At the height of Happy Days' popularity Pinky invaded. Here's an article from Time Magazine.
Monday, Oct. 11, 1976 Article
Caesar had Cleopatra. Tristan loved Isolde. Romeo died for Juliet. Arthur Fonzarelli (a.k.a. "the Fonz") went ape over Pinky Tuscadero. Flame-haired Pinky (played by Roz Kelly, thirtyish), came roaring into Fonzie's life on her guess-what-color motorcycle for the new season's first two shows of ABC'S hit series Happy Days. Instantly smitten by the shapely Pinky, the self-proclaimed "world's greatest female biker," the Fonz actually bussed her in the bike shop and carried her pink scarf close to his leather-jacketed heart. For a few tense moments marriage loomed. Were viewers turned off by this soft side of their superstud hero? No way. The Nielsen ratings showed that Happy Days captured 53% of the total television audience for each of the Pinky episodes.
Two Firecrackers. ABC programming executives promptly decided to keep Tuscadero and her bike in high gear. She will probably not be around to tempt the Fonz again for a while, but she may be riding off on her own. The network is rushing ahead with a pilot for a new series featuring Kelly as Pinky. (Happy Days has already spawned one successful spinoff, Laverne and Shirley.) Kelly, a New York actress who played a hooker in Deathwish and Barbra Streisand's roommate in The Owl and the Pussycat, says she knew the Fonzie-in-love idea would pay off. "We were incredible together: a couple of firecrackers popping off in double time." Though delighted to be tackling a series on her own, Kelly will miss the Fonz. Says she with a sigh: "I do have the hots for his leather jacket."
Led by Happy Days which was the #1 show on TV at the end of the 1976-1977 season, ABC became the #1 Network. Here's an article from Time Magazine talking about that and Fred Silverman, then Entertainment President of ABC.
The Man with the Golden Gut
Monday, Sep. 05, 1977 Article
Programmer Fred Silverman has made ABC No. 1
From his office on the 38th floor of the ABC building in Manhattan, Fred Silverman can peer into the office of CBS President Robert Wussler, just across 53rd Street. Occasionally the two men wave at each other from the heights, like rival aviators saluting before a dogfight. But sometimes when he is trying to woo a star away from another network or plan a secret strategy Silverman, head of ABC's programming, draws his drapes: if he can look into Wussler's office, Wussler can look into his, and Silverman does not want anyone, especially anyone at CBS, to know where the Red Baron will strike next.
Invigorated by Silverman's frenzied aggressiveness and unorthodox tactics, ABC television's perennial also-ran in ratings, revenues and prestige has all but obliterated its competitors in evening prime time. Last spring, at the end of the 1976-77 season, the network had the nation's four top-rated shows and seven of the top ten. CBS, which had been the premier network since television came of age in the '50s, managed to squeeze only two into the top ten. NBC, the granddaddy of all the networks, was able to place only one on those elevated rungs.
Translated into Nielsen points, the language TV people are most fluent in, ABC had a Nielsen average of 21.5, compared with 18.7 for CBS and 18.0 for NBC. Since each Nielsen point means a million viewers and is worth about $36 million in advertising revenue on a full-season basis, ABC'S lead was equal to $100.8 million and that is a language anyone can understand.
There is no parallel in the history of broadcasting and few in any well-established industries to ABC's sudden rise. It is as if, in the space of two years, Chrysler had surged past General Motors and sent Ford reeling back to Dearborn. Or to stretch the truth only a bit as if China had discovered some mysterious, all-powerful Z-bomb and in victorious glee ordered both the White House and the Kremlin dismantled and shipped, boards and nails, to Peking.
ABC has raided the other networks for affiliated stations, convincing station owners that they will be able to ask more money from local advertisers if they are connected with ABC hits. One month the NBC affiliate in San Diego or Charlotte, N.C., makes the switch. Another month it is the CBS station in Providence or Albany, N.Y. In the past two years ABC has added 15 stations to its web, for a total of 195. CBS and NBC are still ahead in the number of stations, with 204 and 208 respectively, but no one will guess how long traditional loyalties will survive the siren lure of ABC's Nielsens.
The expectation is that ABC will do even better this year than last perhaps topping CBS's share of the market in 1968-69, the peak season of its many good years. Instead of consolidating his gains and hanging on to proven shows, as the programmer of the top network usually does, Silverman has torn apart ABC's schedule in search of even bigger victories. "Freddie's like a shark's belly. He can't get enough," says Producer Robert Wood, who was CBS president when Silverman was that network's programmer. To start with, Silverman threw away three moderately successful shows Wonder Woman, The Bionic Woman and The Tony Randall Show on the theory that they were beginning to fade. CBS quickly grabbed Wonder Woman and Tony Randall, and NBC was happy to pick up The Bionic Woman.
Then, in a move that infuriated his competitors and cost the three networks a total of perhaps $17 million in advertising revenue he boldly moved the TV season up two weeks, from Sept. 19 to Sept. 6, the day after Labor Day and the time when millions of Americans, their summer over, will once again focus on the tube. Finally, doubling the intake of martinis at network lunches all over Manhattan, he decided to launch ABC's season with a $7 million blockbuster: six nights in a row of Washington: Behind Closed Doors, the fictionalized saga of the rise and fall of President Richard M. Nixon (see box).
A similar Silverman strategy last January made Roots the most successful television production in history and put ABC firmly on top for the second half of the 1976-77 season. Washington, reasons Silverman, may do the same for the new season.
Each night, all week long, the two-hour segments will be chockablock full of promotion spots for other ABC shows, and viewers will, Silverman believes, get into the habit of watching ABC. Says CBS's Wussler: "There never has been a season so complicated. Or so confusing."
Down the street at NBC, Program Vice President Paul Klein talks angrily in terms of war. NBC, he says, must stop Silverman's daring attack in the first week. "What ABC did [with Washington] was to try to position themselves without competition an arrogant move," he told NBC affiliates. "It's essential to knock Washington off on Tuesday, and if we can injure Washington on Wednesday, then we will have done a job on them. When the numbers come in, they will either have a success or a huge failure and the season will be over."
Klein's analysis is overdrawn the failure of Washington would dampen but not ruin ABC's season yet his reasoning is essentially correct. The course of the season will be strongly influenced by the first week. A measure of the impoverishment of CBS and NBC, however, is the quality of their counterattacks on Washington that first, fateful Tuesday night. Both have scheduled movies that failed at the box office and with the critics. CBS will air 1976's Logan's Run, a futuristic science-fiction thriller in which global overcrowding has dictated that people be put to death at the age of 30. NBC will carry 1975's The Hindenburg, in which George C. Scott tries to prevent the disaster that befell Nazi Germany's greatest dirigible.
Otherwise the new season will be much like the last, with only a few variations. Violence will be toned down, in response to strong pressure from Congress and the nation's parents. At ABC, even a blood-and-guts show like Starsky and Hutch will supposedly have lighter plots and concentrate on the relationship between the two stars. Comedy will also be in, as will family shows like Family or Eight Is Enough, two of Silverman's favorites.
If it sounds like the '50s at ABC, it is with one exception: a sexual soap opera called ... Soap. (Soap is one of the few shows that have ever created controversy even before they went on the air (TIME, July 11). Church groups have denounced it, the opposition has derided it, and some advertisers have pulled away from it. Even a few of ABC'S own affiliates have announced that they will not carry it but will stick with the usual mouthwash instead. Soap will not shock veterans of the late-night Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, but it is daring, and perhaps tasteless, for ABC to carry such a show in prime time. If the reaction is too strong against it, the series could hurt the entire schedule. But if it hits, it would give ABC the same anchor Tuesday night that CBS had Saturday night with All in the Family, another once daring show.
Silverman is clearly nervous and a little defensive about the show's reception. "I believe that Soap will present very positive models and will lead," he maintains. "I say that because I think that the underpinning of the show is the sanctity of the family unit believe it or not. There is a scene between a mother and her daughter that will make you cry. Now my feeling is that if you car get involved enough in a program that when two of the characters start communicating with each other to the point where you're moved then that's a good program "
When Silverman says that the scene in Soap will bring tears, he is really saying that he has already cried while watching it, will cry again when it comes on the air and yet again when it goes into reruns. What makes him the best programmer in television today is the fact that he is the best viewer working in television today. Silverman, 39, does not have to pause and think what 60 million viewers will want to see: he knows, or usually knows, because he is one of them. His likes are theirs, and his dislikes are theirs. He was born with perfect pitch for American pop TV taste. "He's the man with the golden gut," says Bonny Dore, a former ABC director of variety shows. "He knows instinctively what works and what doesn't." From Irwin Segelstein, Silverman's counterpart at NBC, comes similar and perhaps, given the source, more telling praise. Says he: "Freddie has some strange umbilical relation to the viewer."
Unlike many TV executives who watch even their own shows only when duty requires, Silverman loves looking at TV, especially the products of his own network. "He really lights up watching those things," says Producer David Gerber. "He literally would like to get inside the TV and be one of the characters."
One ABC vice president remembers attending an affiliates' meeting in Hawaii with Silverman. While everyone else was playing golf or tennis, Silverman was found under a blanket on the beach, his eyes transfixed by a small, battery-powered TV. Once, in a state of great excitement, he called CBS Executive Perry Lafferty into his office to watch a scene in a soap opera. "It was a routine hospital bed scene, with the man standing beside the bed of the woman he loves," remembers Lafferty. "But I looked over at Freddie, and tears were rolling down his cheeks."
As head of programming, Silverman does not just schedule shows the way a train dispatcher schedules runs into Grand Central Station. Often to the dismay of producers, directors and writers he becomes producer, director and writer. He reads the script of every new show, pilots of shows, and potential pilots of shows. "I never worked so hard in my life as when Freddie was working for me at CBS," says Bob Wood. "He'd give me scripts to take home at night, and then call a half-hour after I got home to ask how I liked them. He knows what goes into every pot, just like a chef."
Some program execs look for plot.
Others look for action. Silverman looks for strong personality. Says he: "I think the thing that makes a successful show an enduring show is well-delineated, attractive, appealing characters. Whether you're talking about I Love Lucy or Amos and Andy on the radio, it's the characters that determine whether the show is going to be a success."
At Silverman's order, a scene from Charlie's Angels was rewritten to make each angel not only look but also sound different. "You must know that one character will say a line one way and another would say it differently," Silverman told the producers. "You must define these characters better." Originally, Writer Abby Mann wanted Kojak to be more human and more fallible. But Silverman wanted him tailored to fit the style of Star Telly Savalas. Now, complains Mann, who is no longer involved in the Kojak series, "Kojak is imperturbable. He's always right. He has become exactly the reverse of what I intended."
Silverman lavishes care and energy on casting his characters. Watching tests, he will say, "I hate her, she's terrible. Roll next, next!" Or he will leap from his chair and shout, "That's her!" In his eyes, characters do not even have to be human. He will spend just as much time listening to a shark's voice for a children's cartoon as he will in discussing stars for a big-budget show in prime time.
Sometimes, in fact, he will spend even more time on children's programming, which is where he started out 15 years ago at CBS and which remains a first love. Last January, recalls Squire Rushnell, ABC's vice president for children's programs, the children's staff sat down with Freddie to discuss new ideas. One suggestion was to have three girls discover a caveman frozen in a block of ice; they would defrost him, and the four of them would go off on adventures. As Rushnell recalls, the concept seemed so absurd that even as he outlined it, his eyes rolled in embarrassment. Freddie, however, was mesmerized. Pacing the room, gesturing excitedly with his hands, he conjured up the caveman with his fingertips.
"Yeah," he said. "He's about this high, and he has a big, furry coat. He's a little guy, but" at this point Silverman began bellowing "HE HAS A GREAT BIG VOICE! He eats everything, and everything is yum, yum, yum." Duly christened Captain Caveman, the little guy will be seen on Saturday mornings this fall in Captain Caveman & the Teenangels.
His keen eye for characters has made Silverman the master of the spinoff. Intrigued by Bea Arthur's portrayal of Maude on an episode of All in the Family, Silverman was soon on the phone to Producer Norman Lear with the suggestion that Maude be given her own program. Fish, similarly, was spun off Barney Miller, and Laverne and Shirley was spun off Happy Days.
Sometimes Silverman can effect a half spinoff. Happy Days, for example, was a fairly popular show that was beginning to run out of steam when Silverman decided to give greater prominence to Henry Winkler, "the Fonz." Last season Happy
Days was the most popular show in the country.
For a time Freddie thought of giving the Fonz his own show, but he discarded the notion. The success of Happy Days, Silverman decided, depends on the interplay between the superhip Fonz and the superstraight Cunningham family. The Fonz alone would be overpowering, while the Cunninghams, left to themselves, would be cloying and out of touch with the times.
Silverman's instincts can betray him.
Not all of his ideas and not all of his spin-offs have had happy results. The list of his failed shows is longer than he would like to remember: Mr. T and Tina, Me and the Chimp, The Captain and Tennille, The Nancy Walker Show, Blansky 's Beauties, The Bill Cosby Show, Planet of the Apes, Calucci's Department. "I'm sure that somewhere," he admits, "there is a cemetery for dead TV shows, with many tombstones bearing the name Silverman." One of the things that separates him from other programmers, however, is that when all attempts at resuscitation fail, he is willing to dispatch his failures to the bleak wastes of Silverman Hill.
At CBS, where he was chief programmer for five years, Silverman had to move more slowly, with the due deliberation that that august organization expects. At
ABC he has found his spiritual home: a company that is as aggressive, hungry and fast-moving as he is, unencumbered by the bureaucratic snares that come from long years of success. Without so much as making a phone call, Silverman can and often does guarantee the commitment of hundreds of thousands of ABC's dollars to a producer. According to lore, Silverman can give a producer a yes or no within 15 minutes. B. Donald ("Bud") Grant, his counterpart at CBS, will say, "I'll think it over." At NBC, Irwin Segelstein will say, "We're having a meeting on it in two weeks."
Though Silverman is given credit for helping boost ABC to the top, most industry observers feel that it would have got there anyway if not now, then some time soon. Partly because it had fewer affiliates in the boondocks and partly because CBS's relatively sophisticated programs had cornered the older, educated audience, ABC was forced to court younger, urban viewers with fast action, sex and unsophisticated comedies. When the "family hour," the 60 minutes from 8 to 9 o'clock, was instituted in 1975, banishing blood and gore to later hours, ABC was ready with its comedies. Simple enough to appeal to kids, they were yet not so simple as to turn off parents. The mistakes of CBS and NBC, neither of which had done as much as ABC in developing new shows, also helped ABC. About two years ago, CBS's successes seemed to age all at once, while NBC seemed nearly paralyzed by corporate indecision.
ABC was also wise in the choice of Fred Pierce as president in 1974. The best-rounded of all the major network executives, with experience in research, sales, promotion, as well as programming, Pierce moved deftly to take advantage of his rivals' confusion. Almost immediately he tried to hire Silverman away from CBS. It took a while, but finally, in May 1975, Silverman crossed the street. Silverman's own success is tied to Pierce's, and, together, the two form the best team in TV.
Why CBS let Silverman go so easily is a mystery, but Silverman's reasons for leaving are clear enough. Although he was certainly well paid around $250,000 a year at CBS he was not given what the trade appropriately calls "keeping money": stock options and other benefits that enable an executive to build personal capital. (His salary at ABC is reportedly about the same now, but will rise to $350,000 next year. In addition, he has stock options and all the perks previously denied ) Worse, he was denied entrance to "the club," an elite group that really runs CBS. Following an unwritten edict from Chairman William Paley, CBS has always been fiercely proud of its image. How an executive looks is often as important as what he does. He must dress right, talk right and live at the right address. He must, in sum, always look as if he had just stepped out of Brooks Brothers and was on his way to have lunch with his former classmates at the Yale Club.
It was an image that Freddie, the son of a television repairman from Rego Park, Queens, seemed to rebuff every time he walked down the hall. He would argue IN A BIG VOICE for the shows he wanted, and rarely failed to point out the mistakes of those above him. CBS tolerated him, but did not like him. He never got the inflated title he might have expected senior or executive vice president and he was not on the limousine list. Says a friend: "Freddie's a blue-collar worker he actually reads scripts and watches shows and he doesn't do things in the white-collar CBS way."
Money has never mattered to Freddie," adds Mike Dann, Silverman's mentor and the man who preceded him as CBS's top programmer. "What he really wanted was respect for the tremendous role he was playing in the company. Freddie quit almost 250 times at CBS, but, far more important, during at least half his time there I can count three network presidents who wanted to fire him." Silverman's own explanation for his leave-taking is the most poignant: "I found I wasn't laughing any more."
Silverman is probably the first network programmer who grew up laughing and crying at TV. Since his father was a television repairman, his family started sitting around the tube earlier than most. After high school in Rego Park, a middleclass, largely Jewish neighborhood 20 minutes by subway from Manhattan, Freddie went to Syracuse University in upstate New York. He majored in broadcasting at Syracuse's School of Speech and Dramatic Arts and then went to graduate school at Ohio State. In 1959, with what now seems like inspired prescience, he wrote his master's thesis on ABC. "The phrase, 'a young, vitalic network,' is the key to the future for ABC," he wrote. "ABC should provide updated, youthful [programming], with a balance of all program types especially conceived and plotted for the younger, larger family groups, a 'something for everybody' schedule."
After graduation he found a job at Station WGN-TV in Chicago. His flair for promotion gave him two immediate successes. He bought up a string of kids' movies from the '50s, featuring Bomba, the Jungle Boy. He edited them down to an hour each, and added a dramatic opening of mysterious jungle drums. The kids loved them. He also bought old adventure films, such as Robin Hood and Tom Sawyer. Renaming them Family Classics, he dared to run them on Friday nights, usually the province of action and comedy. He had another smash, and Family Classics outdrew even Bob Hope. WON is still running the series.
ABC had not been much impressed by Freddie's thesis on ABC (he had sent copies with his resume to all the networks), but Mike Dann at CBS was, and he hired Silverman, a mere 25 at the time, to run daytime programming in 1962. Says Dann: "Reading the thesis I could see the kid had instincts that were unbelievable." Some of his friends trace Freddie's strong emphasis on character over plot to that time, when he was concerned mainly with soap operas and children's shows. Kids make their minds up fast, his friends note, and they like shows with simple, vivid characters. "You can translate that knowledge of what kids watch into prime time," observes Rushnell. "The top ten shows at ABC today including Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and The Six Million Dollar Man are also the tops with kids, ages two to eleven."
That, of course, is precisely the point critics keep making about ABC'S programming: Silverman may know what people will watch, but he has done little to give them anything truly good. "ABC has unsophisticated viewers, kids and people who think like kids," says NBC's Klein. "I call 'em dummies. Fred is a master of light, airy, stupid shows." A more objective analyst is Norman Lear, who has sold shows to all three networks. "Silverman has flair, courage, and conviction, three of the four prerequisites of a showman," says Lear. "But the rarest of showmen is also creative. Let the world judge if he has that fourth ingredient. It is a judgment I prefer not to make."
After seven years with the kids' shows, Silverman took Dann's place as programming chief. His legacy to CBS includes, at least in part, the success of All in the Family and The Mary Tyler Moore Show, as well as Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Maude. Part credit because, as he says, "at CBS there were always six people with varying degrees of voice in a decision."
With only one other voice to listen to at ABC (Pierce is the only one he must check with), Silverman is now able to take risks and gamble for high stakes. He did not think up the idea for Roots, for example, but it was his notion to present it on eight consecutive nights, one of the chief reasons for its sizzling success. Says he: "To get the greatest impact you just had to sweep people into it and that was the way to do it."
For most of his professional life, Freddie has been buying shows and killing them. Instead of finding power an ego booster or an exhilarating narcotic, he seems to look upon it as just another reason to worry. "He is brilliant but masochistic," says Dann, who, aside from Silverman's wife Cathy, may know him best. "He is a very, very compulsive, driven man."
When he was at CBS, says Mark Carliner, "he was always in in the morning before me, and he stayed after I left in the evening. He thought nothing of calling you up at 1 or 2 o'clock in the morning with an idea. He would drive people crazy. I love Freddie, but I would never work for him again."
His weight goes up and down, and he frets about diets. "I put on weight a couple of months ago because of the furor about Soap," he complains. "I ended up eating, drinking and smoking too much." His eyes are strangely hooded, like Bert Lance's, as if he has just awakened or is about to go to sleep. He is graying early, and he could easily be mistaken for someone ten years older than he is. In person, Silverman is affable but tentative. He does not shake hands but thrusts forth his fingers instead, as if afraid that the full package might not be returned. At CBS he was known as a hypochondriac who would run off about once a week for an EKG at Roosevelt Hospital. "He just doesn't have the capacity to relax," says a former CBS colleague. Just being around him "can make you break out in little beads of perspiration," adds the otherwise cool ABC vice president Ed Vane.
He has worked, if that is conceivable, even harder at ABC, determined to put it on top and keep it there. "He's fearful and panicked and fixing and playing, as if he were losing not winning," marvels one friend. A puzzle? Not really. "To Freddie," explains Dann, "it isn't enough to succeed. The other guy has to fail." Silverman says somewhat the same thing, but less bluntly: "I think there is a philosophy that is good no matter what you are doing. That is to always act as if you're in last place. You just shouldn't take success for granted, because you can turn around one day and say, 'My Lord, it is all gone.' "
These days, Freddie is at pains to dispute the stories of his driven nature. "You really have to start separating the man from the myth," he says. Far from watching the set every waking hour, he says, "I look at very little TV at home, unless I have to or unless a cassette comes in and it is an emergency." Yes, he admits, there is a three-TV unit in his new apartment overlooking Central Park, but it has not even been hooked up yet. Really, he says, his family Cathy, to whom he has been married for six years, and his children, Melissa, 5, and William, 8 months are far more important to him than his job.
There is, doubtless, truth in what he says. His closest friends have noticed a mellowing since Freddie became a family man; by all accounts, he is a devoted husband and father, and he will often break off conversations to the West Coast with a sigh: "Gotta go home and tell the kids a story."
Aside from tales for the kids, Silverman rarely reads anything but scripts; when he does, his tastes run to popular bestsellers like James Clavell's Shogun. Though he now has the use of a company limo, he and Cathy, an attractive woman with short, dark hair, live in most ways like Middle Americans. Their apartment is furnished like a suburban split-level, and when they buy paintings, they try them out first on the walls, just to make sure that they like the colors. Freddie is vague about the artists' names.
Still, what seems mellow to Silverman would send most people rushing for the Valium, and Freddie cannot walk past a TV set without stopping. Like Captain Caveman, everything he sees he devours, and nearly everything is yum, yum, yum.
No one not a Freddie Silverman, or a Mike Dann, or a Bill Paley can tell forever what the fickle public wants. Silverman knows better than anyone that some day his crystal ball will say action when it should have said comedy, or vice versa. And as he turns 40, the strain is becoming clear, even to him. "It isn't fun any more," he says. "It used to be. When I joined CBS, it was terrific. You made a couple of changes in midseason and put on a couple of summer shows, and that was all there was to it. Now it is just like a Turkish bath. Every morning you wake up and they're scheduling this and we're changing that. There are 15 seasons and 180 specials, and it is a totally different business, the most competitive, I would imagine, in the entire world."
But who, Freddie is asked, is responsible for all that turmoil if not Fred Silverman? He pauses, as if to consider all that he has wrought, and then laughs: "That's right, isn't it?"
An Article about Henry Winkler's attempts to go into the movies from Time Magazine.
Monday, Nov. 21, 1977 By FRANK RICH Article
Directed by Jeremy Paul Kagan
Screenplay by James Carabatsos
Henry Winkler is the biggest star on prime-time TV and understandably so. As Fonzie, the motorcycle-crazy greaser of Happy Days, he raises '50s cool to the boiling point. The Fonz is no different from the hero of any other ABC sitcom, but Winkler does not settle for mugging his way through the role. Instead he galvanizes the tube with shrewd comic timing and swaggering sexuality he gives the audience Bugs Bunny crossed with James Dean, and each week some 47 million Americans go wild.
Becoming a movie star is something different. As such talented TV comics as Mary Tyler Moore, Carol Burnett and Dick Van Dyke have learned, high Nielsen ratings do not necessarily pave the way to a successful film career Television fans don't like to pay good money to see stars they can see at home for free, nor are they fond of watching their favorite performers playing new roles. Winkler is surely aware of these potential pitfalls, but he has nonetheless jumped into the fray. In Heroes, a determinedly high-minded movie, he drops his Fonzie mannerisms to play Jack Dunne, a crazy Viet Nam veteran who escapes from a VA psycho ward to traipse across the country and find himself.
Winkler's ambitions are admirable. His greatest fans are kids, and he deserves credit for leading them to a film that does not pander to the Fonzie hysteria. His performance is not bad, either. He works hard, in the manner of an intermediate acting student, and occasionally his character comes alive. The same cannot be said of Heroes. This film is as flat as an average made-for-TV movie, though considerably more pretentious than most.
If Heroes were not so dull, it would be a cause for outrage. Director Kagan and Writer Carabatsos borrow freely from other movies notably It Happened One Night, Morgan!, and Five Easy Pieces without ever advancing any insights of their own; there are more cute platitudes along Jack's road to self-realization than there are toll booths. The film's final ten minutes are a minor scandal. After wasting an audience's time for two hours, the movie unleashes a gory, cathartic fantasy sequence in which the hero relives the horrors of his Viet Nam combat. Film makers who exploit the tragedy of war to prop up an otherwise listless picture should be ashamed of themselves.
The ruse does not work in any case, for at the end of Heroes one does not pity the Viet Nam dead so much as the casualties in the movie's cast. Chief among them is Sally Field, the film's love interest and an actress of considerable skill. In Heroes she plays a young woman who is also on the road to find herself, but the character is so clumsily defined that she is a blur upon the screen. Harrison Ford, the witty Han Solo of Star Wars, fares no better but such is Kagan's touch that Heroes could probably reduce Robert Redford to the stature of Troy Donahue.
Despite two mad scenes and numerous other opportunities to embarrass himself, Henry Winkler does manage to survive Heroes but barely. In the future he would be wise to apply the Fonz's cagey bike-riding style to his fledgling movie career: while TV actors have every right to burst out of the 21-in. screen, they are more likely to land safely if they look before they leap.
Here's an article from TV Guide ( April 28-May 4, 1984 ED.) talking about Happy Days as the show was getting ready to conclude its long run.
Our Happy Days Together
Why Fonzie Cried...
How Pinky Tuscadero Got Her Name...
Behind Scott Baio's Rocky Start
As Happy Days finishes its 11th season, its creator shares fond memories of life on the set
By Garry Marshall
Although neither the producers nor ABC will confirm, it seems almost certain that Happy Days will end its network run at the end of this season.-Ed.
Eleven years. Thats a long time to be with the same group of people. It's longer than college. It's longer than the army. It's longer than adolescence even. In the early years of Happy Days, the kids in the cast used to sit around discussing escrows-they were buying their first houses. By the 11th year, they were discussing their wills.
When we filmed the final episode of the 11th season, the one scheduled to air on Tuesday, May 29th odds were strong it would be our last.So it was an emotional time.A time to remember. To remember how we grew up together, how close we were-even under tension.Once, for example, there was this mass contract problem-agents and lawyers fighting, a big power play. Most of our cast walked, refusing to work. And my film crew is out on location in a field someplace, out in the dunes in a hundred degrees-hot, hot, hot-and almost none of the actors are there. So Jerry Paris, our director of 252 shows, calls the cast. He says, " Listen, we're here and we can't get this location another day, so we gotta shoot now. Why don't you come in and we'll shoot this and then we can fight?" And they all came. I remember Marion Ross coming up and saying to me, " You know how thrilling it is to be here in one hundred degrees with my hair wilting and everything?" But they all came.
I remember Erin Moran growing from a little girl to a rebellious teenager to a beautiful young lady. I remember Ronny Howard becoming a father and Henry Winkler becoming a husband and Tom Bosley becoming a widower and being helped out of his depression by the love and support of all of us. I remember a 5 year old actor, in the middle of a scene, in front of a live audience starting to correct Fonzie's lines: " No, you're supposed to say , ' Gimme the purple crayon'." Personally that was a little embarrassing; the 5 year old was my son.
I remember the letter we got, telling us how doctors couldn't get through to a group of battered and abandoned children in Masachusetts because the kids blocked off all emotions-refused to control their sadness, refused to cry. These kids admired Fonzie-he's so cool-the letter said so if you had Fonzie cry on tv, it would really help us let these children know it's ok to cry. We did. The children hated that Fonzie cried, but it opened a discussion between them and the doctors. It was a breakthrough.
We tried to be useful. We did shows about mental health, about diabetes, about death, blindness, epilepsy, tolerance. That's what we tried to teach. Be nice to each other. We had some influence. We were No. 1 in the ratings. When many critics were saying they thought my shows were shallow, I said that if television is the education of the American public, then I am recess. Leave me alone. Because in recess you can enlighten people , too. The key is to get them into the playground and for Happy Days they kept coming back to the playground.
Happy Days does not cure cancer. It's not the greatest thing that ever happened to the world. But we did give people pleasure and we made people feel better and we did it for 11 years.
At the beginning it wasn't Happy Days. It was called " New Family In Town," a pilot for ABC. About a family in the '50's. In my mind, my show had a Norman Rockwell feel to it, but my own family grew up in the Bronx and Norman Rockwell didn't paint to many pictures in the Bronx. My co-producer, Tom Miller was from Milwaukee . We decided to pick Milwaukee as the setting. That way, if we ever had to travel there on location, we'd have a place to stay. We could stay at his Mother's house. She'd give us some food.
A third producer, Eddie Milkis, joined us and we did a half-hour pilot. It was a very soft, gentle show. The network guys looked at it and they said " What a sweet, lovely show. Who needs it? Nobody wants to see the '50's, it's boring.
Meantime, the movie " America Graffiti" becomes a hit, so does a Broadway musical about the '50's, " Grease," and people at the networks begin saying, " Hey, how can we capitalize on this?" Michael Eisner at ABC says, " Fellas, we got one of those." They tell me to try it again, but " just a little, little different." See, in American Graffiti" and in "Grease," there were bad guys. So they wanted a tremendously bad gang to come in and beat up Richie a lot. They thought it would be exciting. I said, "No. That's not a good idea." They argued. I said, " Really what you want me to bring in is an element from the other side of the tracks. And a gang isn't it. What I'll do is, I'll bring in a character that represents the other side of the tracks. No gang. He'll represent a gang. He'll look like it's a gang. Don't worry, it'll be nice.
I created a character based on the only guy in my old neighborhood who had a motorcycle. This guy was cool and "rocky"-that was the term in those days. He very rarely spoke; he just kind of hovered. He'd nod a lot and he'd make guttural sounds-and everybody would get out of his way.
A writer friend, Bob Brunner, named this character Fonzerelli, and we began to cast. Ronny Howard had played Richie in the pilot and Harold Gould, the father. Gould wasn't available anymore, so I wanted a man named Tom Bosley. I knew I had a show with a lot of young people so I was looking for someone to be the adult on stage and off stage. I had checked into his life and Tom Bosley was a lovely person. That's who I wanted. It was important. ABC said "No" so I quit-the only time I did that. Finally the network said , " OK, you can have Bosley." It was because he didn't seem to them the key to the show.
Ronny Howard was the key to the new pilot. And suddenly Ronny Howard says he doesn't want to do it: " Because then I'll end up having to play 16 the rest of my life." I said, " No, I promise you, if the show runs more than 13 weeks , I will let you go through high school."
We got every part cast except Fonzie. I said, " Get me a tall Italian kind of guy. A cool guy." So Tom Miller brought in this fellow from Yale drama school. A not-tall person from New York who was not Italian at all. And I said, " Well, uh, this is not what I had in mind." Tom Miller said, " Wait, wait, wait, we'll fix it." And so they went out and got these boots and a leather jacket for Henry Winkler and he came in and started making sounds and I loved him. But I was still worried. I said to him, " Young man, I could see you're an intense actor here. Very smart and you went to school in Yale and you gotta understand this is a very little part. This is two, four lines a week here. That's it. This guy doesn't speak. Sso I don't want any trouble from you. I'm telling you upfront. I don't wanna hear from your agent. I don't wanna hear from nobody. Don't start up if you want a Bigger part, ' cause you're a side character, your job is to float through the damn show. OK? You got it?" He got it.
In January of 1974 we start. After six weeks, we're a moderate success, but we're starting to come on because the kids loved our show. And Freddie Silverman was at CBS and, smart man, he knew. He said, " That show is going to hurt us." So he put Good Times against us, which was the big hot show at the time, with Jimmie Walker. The first two weeks Good Times kills us. But we hang on and after awhile, lo and behold, Silverman quits CBS and he comes to ABC. Now he has to try to save the show he just tried to destroy.
By now Fonzie is beginning to cook. So Silverman comes to me and says, " It's very competitive out there. You've got to help me. Who is it, to you, that Fonzie represents in real life?" I say, " It's the Lone Ranger. That's how I described him to Henry Winkler. The Lone Ranger was one of my idols. He came to the rescue then split before he got boring." So Silverman says, " Well do more with the Lone Ranger. Where he does these great things." I say, " All right." And that was the turning point of Happy Days. It soared.
Later Silverman comes and says he wants Fonzie to have his own show, wants to move him off Happy Days. We refused. I said, " We'll give you something else." So we gave him Laverne & Shirley.
What made us so popular? The time in history, for one thing. We'd just come through the 60's, a time of confusuion. People wanted calm. And this was very calm. Happy Days was a fantasy. Happy Days always ended on the upbeat. Happy Days said that the offbeat individual was OK. Happy Days said that one of the salvations of the world is the family unit. Fonzie was the voice of a big brother, and he was handsome. Richie was cute. Kids liked that. Fonzie's bravado, his cool, was putting us on. Older kids-College kids-liked that. And adults liked it first, because it was a show they could enjoy with their children and also as a lady in Philadelphia with 2 kids and a load of wash once told me , because " the 50's was my best shot , the best time of my life . High School. Lou and I were dancing, dating. Now he's working 19 hours a day and I'm at the laundromat." Nostalgia.
The other networks threw everything at us-must have been 20 shows that went against us. We kept surviving. We kept adding things to keep the show fresh. That was always on my mind. Once, I was driving with my family and -I don't drive real good-something happened with the car and we had to pull off the highway. The kids are crying and whining, hot, dripping wet, and I looked up and a freeway sign said " Atascadero." I said, " Hey, that's a good name for a character." My wife says, " You want to help me here with the kids?" I said, " It's better as Tuscadero. Rolls off your tongue. It's a great name." She said, " Forget the great names, roll your tongue to a gas station." And that's how I created a character called Pinky Ttuscadero as a girlfriend for Fonzie and when she came on the ratings were big, and I'm talking big-No 1 with 40-50 shares.
To run 11 years with so many of the same people, you've got to be aware of personal dynamics. I used to come in and announce, " You never have to see each other on weekends. Just work here and be civil to each other." Another thing when I work with young people , I worry that when they are not occupied, they get into trouble. So I instigate activities. Dance lessons, yoga, sports. I built a basketball court and made them play ball. Out of that came a softball team and it blossomed. We toured America, Germany, Japan for the USO.
Ballplaying helped cement relations, solve problems. I remember I was throwing a ball with Ronny Howard once and right there-no calling him into my office-I said , " Fonzie is getting big, you know?" He said, " I know." I said , " It's gotta have some effect on you." He said , " I hear they want to change the name of the show to Fonzie." I said, " Yea." He said, " I can handle everything but that." I said, " All right, you got it. We don't change the name."
I would talk to Henry at games, too. Tell him, " Now you gotta cool it a little." And he would say, " Yea, I know. Without the other actors, I'm nothing." One game, when we were at our peak, Henry was pitching against Ralph's Market. They hit the ball hard. I mean they scored like seven runs whiz, whack! So I walk out to the pitcher's mound and Henry says, " They're killing me. What's wrong?" I said, " What do you mean" You're just a human being. I mean, it's nice you're a big star but here you're a person just like everybody else, and they're killing you." He thought that maybe because he was so big, nothing could touch him. He was so depressed. He wanted to run and hide. I said, " No, you gotta keep pitching. That's it. This is life." It was the best humbler I ever saw. He never got a swelled head after that.
Ronny set the tone. A lot of television actors think acting is fighting to get great lines for yourself and then just saying them. Ronny Howard always understood-and told the other kids, and they copied him-that in acting you also get paid a lot of money to read weak lines great. Ronny could do it all at age 11-he could deliver big lines and he could also feed the other actors.
It was a very supportive group. But you had to earn your way in. I've worked on some shows where people don't have, or don't enjoy, life outside the profession, so they stay at the studio all day and night. On Happy Days, you had to come, work very hard and try to get out at a reasonable time. New additions-Lynda Goodfriend, Al Molinaro, Pat Morita, Ted McGinley, Cathy Silvers and Crystal Bernard-learned to do that. Whe Scott Baio came in, he had a hard time. He was very young and he was not really sure he wanted to be in this profession. After the first year he decided he didn't like it anymore, so he kind of walked through a few scenes and we'd have to say, " You can't do that," and with the help of his parents we had to lean on him a little bit. After that difficult year, though, he decided that he did want to be an actor and he worked so hard it knocked us out. Then he was accepted.
We had a mix of personalities. Marion Ross was a prankster, always keeping the set lighthearted, but she would seriously become Mrs. C. in real life as well as on stage whenever the kids needed a mother. Erin was the baby. Everyone looked after her. Anson Williams was our good-will ambassador, always talking up Happy Days when he went around the country on his singing tours. Donny Most was our resident worrier. He was nervous about everything-his part, everybody's part, whatever happened. So nobody else had to worry because Donny did the worrying for everybody.
Henry took it upon himself to try to give back a lot to the public that had made him a hit. He worked very, very hard to go to all the charity affairs, the children's hospitals. He had the most power. As a star, as an image. And he worried a lot about whether he was using that power correctly. Henry Winkler is a man with a conscience. He wondered often why God had given him such a thing as this because sometimes it got him into incredible situations. I'm not being corny. We got a call once on the set. A young teen-ager was on a roof in Minneapolis about to jump off and commit suicide. The police chief called us and said the kid wanted to talk to Fonzie. Henry had to get on the phone. He talked to the young man for half an hour about how life is worth living, and it worked; they got the kid off the roof. These are not things that occur in every actor's life.
Tom Miller often said that all producers in their lives should be blessed with one project like Happy Days. Because truthfully, Laverne & Shirley was not an easy show to do. Mork & Mindy was not an easy thing.But Happy Days was, to me, like my retreat. I would go to the Happy Days stage and they would be rehearsing a scene and everybody knew his part, knew his lines, knew his character, and was happy to be working.
The series was important to me personally as well as professionally. My father worked on the show, and my mother, my wife, my sisters ( sister Ronny produced the show the last five years) and my kids. I don't need home movies of my kids, I just run Happy Days episodes; they used to work once a year.
The 200th episode of Happy Days was written into the Congressional Record Nov. 2, 1981, as a program of " wholesomeness that resorted to neither sex or violence to achieve its great national popularity." And Fonzie's leather jacket was given a lasting place of honor in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C. Recently Henry Winkler and I were at some fancy charity party and this lady was saying, " It must feel good to create characters that become folk heroes in our culture." Yes it does. Especially when they've been a good influence, like The Fonz. Fonzie was a character that was bigger than life. In a sense, it seems appropriate that the show that finally hurt Happy Days was another with a character bigger than life, Mr. T. And he seems to have a similar kind of appeal. In his own way, Mr. T. also is a person who stands up for right. Instead of my Lone Ranger with a black jacket, we now have a Lone Ranger with a mohawk.
Happy Days Cast Obituaries
'Poltergeist' Actress O'Rourke, 12, dies
February 3, 1988
By Kim Painter
Heather O'Rourke, 12 year old star of the Poltergeist movies, died in surgery Monday of complications from an intestinal infection.
She had complained of cramps Sunday at her home in Big Bear, Calif. Her parents " thought she had minor symptoms of a cold. She got very sick, they called the paramedics and rushed her to the hospital," said her personal manager, Mike Meyer.
Officials at Children's Hospital in San Diego said late Tuesday the cause of death was intestinal stenosis or obstruction of the bowel. During surgery, the girl went into septic shock.
Said actress JoBeth Williams, who co-starred with Heather, " Having played Heather's mother twice, I grew to love her and respect her talent. My heart goes out to her mother and her family."
Co-Star Craig T. Nelson said he was " devastated...I loved her very much."
Heather-who made the line " They're heeere" famous-was a bright child who " could memorize a 60 page script in about an hour," Meyer said.
She was on a break after completing Poltergeist 3 last summer. She had also appeared in the tv shows Happy Days and Webster.
She first caught Poltergeist co-producer Steven Spielberg's eye at the MGM commissary, says another agent, Bob Preston. Spielberg approached her, but she said she didn't talk to strangers. He gave her the script; she won the role.
Dominique Dunne, who played her older sister in Poltergeist was killed by a former boyfriend in 1982.
Funeral services are planned Friday in Los Angeles.
Pat Morita, 'Karate Kid's' Mr. Miyagi, dies
Friday, November 25, 2005;
LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- Actor Pat Morita, whose portrayal of the wise and dry-witted Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" earned him an Oscar nomination, has died. He was 73.
Morita died Thursday at his home in Las Vegas of natural causes, said his wife of 12 years, Evelyn. She said in a statement that her husband, who first rose to fame with a role on "Happy Days," had "dedicated his entire life to acting and comedy."
In 1984, he appeared in the role that would define his career and spawn countless affectionate imitations. As Kesuke Miyagi, the mentor to Ralph Macchio's "Daniel-san," he taught karate while trying to catch flies with chopsticks and offering such advice as "wax on, wax off" to guide Daniel through chores to improve his skills.
Morita said in a 1986 interview with The Associated Press he was billed as Noriyuki "Pat" Morita in the film because producer Jerry Weintraub wanted him to sound more ethnic. He said he used the billing because it was "the only name my parents gave me."
He lost the 1984 best supporting actor award to Haing S. Ngor, who appeared in "The Killing Fields."
For years, Morita played small and sometimes demeaning roles in such films as "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and TV series such as "The Odd Couple" and "Green Acres." His first breakthrough came with "Happy Days," and he followed with his own brief series, "Mr. T and Tina."
"The Karate Kid," led to three sequels, the last of which, 1994's "The Next Karate Kid," paired him with a young Hilary Swank.
Morita was prolific outside of the "Karate Kid" series as well, appearing in "Honeymoon in Vegas," "Spy Hard," "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues" and "The Center of the World." He also provided the voice for a character in the Disney movie "Mulan" in 1998.
Born in northern California on June 28, 1932, the son of migrant fruit pickers, Morita spent most of his early years in the hospital with spinal tuberculosis. He later recovered only to be sent to a Japanese-American internment camp in Arizona during World War II.
"One day I was an invalid," he recalled in a 1989 AP interview. "The next day I was public enemy No. 1 being escorted to an internment camp by an FBI agent wearing a piece."
After the war, Morita's family tried to repair their finances by operating a Sacramento restaurant. It was there that Morita first tried his comedy on patrons.
Because prospects for a Japanese-American standup comic seemed poor, Morita found steady work in computers at Aerojet General. But at age 30 he entered show business full time.
"Only in America could you get away with the kind of comedy I did," he commented. "If I tried it in Japan before the war, it would have been considered blasphemy, and I would have ended in leg irons. "
Morita was to be buried at Palm Green Valley Mortuary and Cemetery.
He is survived by his wife and three daughters from a previous marriage.
For more on Happy Days go to https://www.sitcomsonline.com/photopost/showphoto.php?photo=236953&nocache=1
� Date: Mon June 4, 2007 � Filesize: 12.9kb � Dimensions: 212 x 300 �
Keywords: Happy Days: Richie And The Gang