Vale: Tom Bosley

"Mr. C." who died yesterday aged 83, was the only original cast member to tour Australia with the Happys Days Arena Spectacular in the 1990s.

Former co-stars have paid tribute to Tom Bosley, best known as ‘Howard Cunningham’ in the long-running sitcom Happy Days.

Bosley died of lung cancer yesterday aged 83.

Ron Howard told E! News, “Tom’s insight, talent, strength of character and comic timing made him a vital central figure in the Happy Days experience.

“A great father and husband, and a wonderful artist, Tom led by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already.”

Henry Winkler told TMZ, “I saw him before I ever got to Hollywood on Broadway, and he was great. And then I got to act with him for 10 years and he was great. Tom Bosley was our mentor. He was a true artist … a great husband, and a fabulous father and grandfather. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”

Scott Baio said, “He was a good man who taught me a lot about the business and business itself. He was a professional guy … I’m sad.”

Marion Ross said of Bosley, “He was my husband for 11 years and the father of the company in many ways.

“We made a perfect couple.”

The LA Times called him, “the perfected embodiment of Dadness yet with recognisably human edges. He was the now-irascible, now-comforting voice of experience, and the necessary rock against which everything else crashed or clung to. This is an easier part to make iconic than to make interesting, but Bosley did both.”

But character actor Bosley was not the original ‘Howard Cunningham’. Harold Gould played the role in a 1972 episode of anthology show Love, American Style, but was unavailable when the network decided to move forward with Happy Days, building off the appeal of nostalgia spurred in part by movie successes such as George Lucas’ American Graffiti (1973).

He had initially burst to acclaim in 1959 in the title role of the musical “Fiorello!,” which traced the rise of the charismatic politician Fiorello LaGuardia from young lawyer and congressman to reformist mayor of New York.

The Tony Award winning actor played the recurring role of a Maine sheriff named Amos Tucker on the long-running detective drama Murder, She Wrote from from 1984 to 1988. He was typically outsleuthed by the widowed mystery writer Jessica Fletcher, played by Angela Lansbury.

He left the series to appear in a rare leading role on Father Dowling Mysteries, which ran until 1991.

Bosley once said people often confused him with the late character actor David Doyle, who played the detective assistant Bosley on Charlie’s Angels in the late 1970s. He said producer Aaron Spelling named the character after him.

“He wanted me to play that part,” hesaid. “I said, ‘Aaron, I’m already in a hit show!’

But it was his indelible performance as “Mr. C.” that he will most be remembered for. Bosley was the only original cast member to tour the Happy Days Arena Spectacular in Australia in the late 1990s as a Narrator. His role was recreated by Max Gillies, with other cast members including Wendy Hughes, Craig MacLachlan, Rebeca Gibney, Doug Parkinson, JoBeth Taylor and Human Nature.

The passing of a favourite television father follows the death this week of an equally favourite mother, Barbara Billingsley, who played the wholesome mother of the Cleaver clan on Leave It to Beaver.

Source: LA Times, Washington Post, E!, TMZ

8 Responses

  1. He had a great career – certainly one that would be the envy of a lot of actors.

    I grew up watching Happy Days, and he was always great in it.

    First Mrs Cleaver goes and now Mr Cunningham – but their legacies and countless TV performances will always endure.

  2. I’m not ashamed to say that Mr C showed me how to be a better man and father than my own father ever did! I bet there aren’t many actors or characters that can make a similar claim, especially these days. No the opposite is true.
    RIP Mr Bosley, the Grandest Poohbah of them all.

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