Happy Days Actors You May Not Know Passed Away

When the classic sitcom "Happy Days" premiered on ABC in 1974, it immortalized Henry Winkler as the default study for cool guys everywhere: Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli. It also spawned the character spin-offs "Laverne and Shirley," "Joanie Loves Chachi," "Mork and Mindy," and the short-lived cartoon "The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang." Four spin-offs made it clear it wasn't just the Cunninghams who were beloved by viewers. The original show ran for 11 seasons before airing its final episode in 1984. "Happy Days" has been on syndication (and now streaming, per Decider) for over 45 years since its premiere, keeping Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and the gang's visages young. Thanks to "Happy Days," Howard will always be Richie, Scott Baio will always be young Chachi, and Winkler will always be the Fonz.

Unfortunately, time takes its toll, and some of the show's beloved actors are no longer with us. Here's a look at the actors you may be surprised have died since their tenure on "Happy Days."

Tom Bosley/Howard Cunningham

Tom Bosley played Richie's kind-hearted father Howard Cunningham. The actor was 46 when he took on the role of the family patriarch. Before then, Bosley had been recognized with a Tony Award for his role as Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in "Fiorello!" on Broadway (via the Los Angeles Times). He also had a staggering list of credits to his name (via IMDb), including appearances in Rod Serling's "Night Gallery," "Bewitched," and the classic Christmas movie "Miracle on 34th Street."

After "Happy Days," Bosley didn't slow down. He was cast in "Murder, She Wrote" as Sheriff Amos Tupper, and continued acting long into his golden years until he died in 2010 at the age of 83 from complications related to lung cancer. Bosley was survived by his daughter Amy Baer, who also appeared in two episodes of "Happy Days," as well as two stepdaughters and more than half a dozen grandchildren.

Al Molinaro/Big Al Delvecchio

Al Molinaro had the rare fortune to already be well off before he pursued acting. His ventures into real estate proved lucrative, allowing him to freely enter show business. As his luck would have it, his improv classmate Penny Marshall (later "Laverne and Shirley"'s Laverne) introduced him to her brother, Garry Marshall. Garry cast Molinaro in a role for his then-upcoming sitcom "The Odd Couple," per Outsider. Needless to say, "The Odd Couple" was a hit, and so was Molinaro as Officer Murray Greshler.

Nearly 10 years after "The Odd Couple," Garry Marshall cast Molinaro again, this time on "Happy Days" as "Big Al" Delvecchio. Al took over Arnold's Diner after Pat Morita departed in Season 3. He also played his own twin brother, Father Anthony Delvecchio in the episode "May The Best Man Win." Molinaro reprised his role as Big Al for Weezer's "Buddy Holly" music video, which takes place at the famed diner.

Molinaro died at the age of 96 in 2015 after a long career. 

Pat Morita/Matsuo 'Arnold' Takahashi

Pat Morita may be more well-recognized for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi in "The Karate Kid" films, but it was television that got the actor his start. Prior to "Happy Days," Morita had stints on "Green Acres," "Columbo," and a recurring role as Ah Chew in "Sanford and Son." He appeared as the original drive-in owner Arnold Takahashi in "Happy Days" starting in 1975. Like many of the roles the legendary actor had to play during his career, there were times when the character of Takahashi could be considered culturally tone-deaf by today's standards. Nevertheless, Morita had impeccable comedic timing as the gang's favorite restaurant owner and Fonzie's confidant.

Takahashi married and left the show in Season 3, then returned to buy back the restaurant from Al in Season 10. After reprising his role, Morita went on to star as Mr. Miyagi in the "Karate Kid" franchise under his given name Noriyuki "Pat" Morita (via IMDb).

Morita didn't stop working until shortly before he died in 2005. He had accrued so many roles that his last credit wasn't until 2014, roughly nine years after his death from kidney failure at age 73 (via ABC News).

Erin Moran/Joanie Cunningham

Erin Moran played the youngest sibling, Joanie Cunningham. At first a minor character, Joanie would eventually develop a close friendship with Fonzie, and Moran herself would grow up, entering a relationship with Chachi and starring in the spin-off series "Joanie Loves Chachi" alongside Scott Baio. The show lasted only two seasons, but both actors returned to "Happy Days" after their Chicago-based sitcom was canceled. 

Unfortunately, after "Happy Days," Moran struggled to find work in Hollywood, only appearing in smaller roles. She eventually foreclosed on her California home and moved to Indiana with her husband Steve Fleischmann. Reports of Moran's life outside of Hollywood did not fare well. According to Radar Online, the actress was spotted drunk in a parking lot, and was publicly kicked out of the home she shared with her mother-in-law in 2012.

In 2017, the 56-year-old actress passed away while living in Indiana. At the time, outlets like the Daily Mail speculated that her passing was due to a heroin overdose. Even former co-star Baio spread misinformation, telling a radio show that he felt her drug and drinking habits contributed to her death (via Variety). 

It wasn't until Fleischmann and her "Happy Days" co-star Anson Williams (who played Potsie Weber) opened up about her health problems that the rumor was dispelled. "We all kept quiet, out of respect for Erin. She couldn't speak, but her texts were very [positive]," Williams said. He revealed to People that the actress's untimely death was caused by stage 4 throat cancer. Williams paid his respects to his co-star in a statement shared by Variety, expressing that "Erin was a person who made everyone around her feel better. She truly cared about others first, a true angel. I will miss her so much, but know that she is in God's hands. RIP sweet angel."