Ron Howard told ‘Happy Days’ producers he’d leave the show if they changed name to ‘Fonzie’s Happy Days’


Ron Howard nearly left “Happy Days” after Henry Winkler’s popularity changed the course of the show.

Howard almost quit when producers floated the idea of calling the hit show “Fonzie’s Happy Days” in an effort to capitalize on fans’ love of Winkler’s character, Arthur Herbert “The Fonz” Fonzarelli.

“They came to me at ABC and they wanted to change the title to ‘Fonzie’s Happy Days,’” Winkler told the New York Times. “I said, ‘If you do that, it is an insult to everybody I’m working with. Why fix something that isn’t broken? We are really good. I live in the family and that’s why I’m successful. I’m asking you, if you never listen to me again, leave it alone.’”

Howard told producers he “would leave” even though he was “contractually” obligated to continue filming the show.

“But I told them if you really want to change the name of the show to that, I would rather go back to USC and film school and what I was doing before the show launched,” he recalled.

Ron Howard wasn’t fond of Henry Winkler’s popularity changing the sway of things on the show, and it tested their friendship.

Winkler previously shared how his rise to popularity tested his friendship with Howard, who starred as Richie Cunningham on the show.

“I was very aware never to be less than respectful to him,” Winkler told Fox News Digital. “I was always careful never to flaunt anything that was happening to me on the sound stage in front of the cast members, including him. I’m lucky [my character’s popularity] was happening, but I was a member of an ensemble, which was higher than bragging.”

Winkler “learned a lot” from working alongside Howard.

Ron Howard threatened he “would leave” the show after producers floated the idea of calling it “Fonzie’s Happy Days.” Getty Images
Henry Winkler, who starred as Richie Cunningham on the show, says he “learned a lot” from working with Howard. ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

“He was completely grounded by his parents, who never allowed any bad behavior,” he recalled. “He was being a professional. This was his job, and I learned from watching him. I’m older — 10 years older — so I had the experience of theater and commercials on the East Coast on how to be a professional. I never doubted my responsibility for what I had to do, but I still had a lot to learn.”

“I remember one time I got overly emotional [trying to memorize my lines],” Winkler continued. “It was Ron who took me back to the sound stage and said, ‘If I were you, I probably wouldn’t hit my script.’ I said, ‘Ron, I’ll never hit my script as long as I live.’ Nor did I ever.”

“Happy Days” ran from 1974 to 1984 and featured the Cunningham family as they navigated middle-class life in the Midwest in the ‘50s and ’60s. The show helped solidify Howard as a Hollywood director and brought on Winkler’s rise to fame.

From left — Henry Winkler, Don Most, Erin Moran, Tom Bosley, Anson Williams, Marion Ross, and Ron Howard, are pictured on the set of Happy Days. ©ABC/Courtesy Everett Collection

Anson Williams, who starred as Potsie Weber, went on to dabble in politics. The sitcom star ran for mayor of Ojai, California, in 2022.

He was defeated by Betsy Stix, who received 42 more votes than the actor, according to the New York Post.

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