Television and film Actor Tom Bosley passed away this week at the age of 83. Possibly the most iconic father figure to grace the small screen, Mr. Bosley’s portrayal of Howard Cunningham on the long running television comedy series “Happy Days” was a poignant mixture of strength, humility, and warmth. For a huge audience in the 1970s, he was America’s Dad.
What I loved about Howard Cunningham was his honest approach to fatherhood. He understood the dynamics of being the man of the house. He adored his wife, raised two sons (the oldest disappearing from the show with no explanation) and a daughter (who got sent to her room a lot) while also making himself available for fatherly advice to his tenant, the rough edged but heart of gold Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli. Mr. C was not a perfect man but he strived to make amends when aware of his flaws. It’s what made the character so endearing. He simply got it. I loved how he’d give his son Richie a warning cough before opening the door on a “study session.” Or the patience he exhibited while offering supportive counsel to his son Richie when he exceeded his limits. Mr. C was indeed a family man.
Some of Tom Bosley’s other well known roles included Father Dowling of the Father Dowling Mysteries, Sheriff Amos Tucker on Murder, She Wrote and as a pitchman for Glad Bags. In each of those roles, he provided a warm and comforting presence. He embodied the proverbial “good guy.” Yet to me, he’ll always be Howard Cunningham.
We’ll miss you Mr. C. Happy Days made a huge impression on a nation of future Dads. Thank you. These Happy Days were yours and mine.
What are some of your fondest memories of Mr. C?