13 tiny details you never noticed in early episodes of Happy Days

Look for these little details in the second season!

Over its 11-year run, Happy Days underwent many changes, from its visual style to its cast. The hit Seventies sitcom about the Fifties featured fascinating little details in its early years. The first two seasons stand out for several reasons. 

Let's take a deep dive into the details. 

1. Linda Purl played Richie's girlfriend years before she was Fonzie's girlfriend.

Younger generations might recognize Linda Purl as Pam Beesly's mom (and Michael Scott's brief love interest) on The Office. Decades earlier, she was Gloria, Richie's steady in a handful of early Happy Days episodes. Look for her in the first episodes of season two, notably "Richie Moves Out" and "Richie's Car." But! Purl returned to Happy Days in the Eighties to play Ashley Pfister, the single mother who becomes the love of Fonzie's life. Remember her daughter, Heather, portrayed by Heather "They're he-e-e-re" O'Rourke of Poltergeist fame?

2. There was briefly a replacement Chuck.

Chuck, Richie's older brother, is the forgotten Cunningham family member. The character is overlooked in general, but it is especially easy to forget that two actors played the elder sibling. Randolph Roberts, seen here, appeared in just two episodes ("Richie Moves Out" and "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas") in season two before the character vanished without a trace nor a mention. Heck, in the series finale, Howard Cunningham declares how proud he is of his "two kids"! Ouch!

3. Ron Howard reunited with "Mr. McBeevee."

"Mr. McBeevee" remains one of the most beloved episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. You know, the one in which Opie meets a jingling man in a silver hat (telephone company employee) who Barney and Andy find to be beyond belief? Karl Swenson played the role — and reunited with "Opie" in "Richie's Car" when he appeared as a police sergeant!

4. This might be Laverne's forgotten relative.

"Who's Sorry Now" reunited Richie with one of his old girlfriends (more on that in the next item). Pay close attention to her friend at the diner, a girl who once endured an uncomfortable "Juicy Fruit" kiss with Potsie. The character's name? "Rita DeFazio." Of course, DeFazio is the surname of Laverne in the Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley. Is this Laverne's lost cousin? Sister? How many DeFazios could there be in suburban Milwaukee in the 1950s?

5. Footage from the 1972 pilot was recycled.

As we mentioned, "Who's Sorry Now?" sees the return of Arlene Nestrock, Richie's girlfriend from "three years earlier." There is even a flashback in which we see a younger Richie meeting Arlene. Considering this is just the third episode of the second season, how did they record such footage? Well, this scene is taken from "Love and the Television Set," the pilot that aired as an episode of Love, American Style in 1972, similar to how Star Trek recycled elements of its pilot "The Cage" for "The Menagerie." The characters also make reference to the plot, remembering how the Cunninghams were the "first family in town to own a TV."

6. The Cunninghams inhereted decorations from the Brady Bunch — or should that be the other way around?

The Cunninghams may have been ahead of the curve with their fancy new television set, but some decor in their home was secondhand. Take a close look at the green tile art hanging by the kitchen door in "Fonzie's Getting Married." The same prop was formerly seen nailed to wood paneling in the living room of The Brady Bunch, seen here behind Cindy. (Both sitcoms had ties to Paramount Studios, which explains that.) Of course, Happy Days took place in the 1950s, while the Brady dwelled in the early 1970s, so perhaps we should say the Bradys inherited it from the Cunninghams?

7. This pinball machine did not exist in the 1950s.

The Bally Nip-It pinball machine first hit arcades in 1973. It introduced a new "Balligator" feature to game play. So how exactly was Richie Cunningham leaning against the machine in the 1950s? Look for the pinball machine in "You Go to My Head."

8. But the magazines are period appropriate.

The pinball machine may have been anachronistic, but we must give Happy Days credit for details in the reading material. In "Not with My Sister, You Don't," Howard peruses an issue of LIFE in bed. That particular issue hit newsstands in April of 1957. That's legendary television comedian Ernie Kovacs on the cover, undoubtedly an influence on Garry Marshall.

9. Tony Randall went uncredited in a fake werewolf movie.

In "Not with My Sister, You Don't," Joanie goes on a date with Fonzie's nephew and clone, Spike. The young pair take in a werewolf movie. Notice who's playing the lead in this fictional film? It's phony footage featuring Tony Randall of The Odd Couple, making an uncredited cameo as the werewolf!

10. Garry Marshall's kids played trick-or-treaters.

Happy Days was obviously a family affair for Garry Marshall — his sister Penny popped up as Laverne DeFazio! Those are not the only members of the Marshall clan onscreen! In "Haunted," the Halloween episode, his three children Kathleen (princess), Scott (cowboy) and Lori (witch) play young trick-or-treaters!

11. Garry Marshall himself drummed.

Marshall made cameos himself — behind a drumset. Look for his first appearance behind the kit in "Fonzie's Getting Married," keeping the beat in nightclub with the exotic dancer (a.k.a. Fonzie's girl). 

12. "Fonzie's Getting Married" was an experiment with a studio audience.

Garry's rhythmic cameo is hardly the only notable thing about "Fonzie's Getting Married." The episode — midway through the second season — was also the show's experiment with a live studio audience. Up to that point, the series had filmed with a single camera and laugh track, like The Andy Griffith Show, giving Happy Days a cinematic look. However, Happy Days experiment with a three-camera sitcom format, the same pioneered by I Love Lucy. The network must have liked what it saw because Happy Days permanently switched to this production format in season three.

13. Happy Days producer Bob Brunner played Clarabell the Clown.

The season-two episode "The Howdy Doody Show" brings together two beloved television classics. Joanie appears on the popular children's program, while Richie is tempted to grab a photograph of Clarabell the Clown without his makeup. Buffalo Bob Smith, host of the original Howdy Doody, guest-stars as himself. However, that is not the "real" Clarabell. Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), J. Cornelius Cobb and Lew Anderson were the original actors under the makeup. In this episode, however, it is Happy Days producer and writer Bob Brunner!

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TereseLynneWilson 26 months ago
Why did they blur the poster in Richies room, On the guys poker night episode.
It's a stock car race poster with a confederate flag on it.
klbazur 27 months ago
The first two seasons were very good. One of my favorites was when Richie's Dad wants to build a bomb shelter. In the end the family votes against building and Ritchie turns to his Dad and says "we voted not to survive." Great writing. Too bad it went downhill when Fonzie took over, it became just a terrible show.
manofawholebunchofvoices 33 months ago
I wish MeTv would just show the first three seasons. Happy Days was so wonderful then. Over the last few months MeTv has been showing much later seasons that are truly so bad they are embarrassing. The episode that was just on today had Fonzie attending his own funeral and to make sure nobody recognized him sitting there, he dressed as an old woman. Last week there was an episode where a strange woman in a black cloak wearing an eye patch put a curse on Al and Fonzie and I just had to turn it off it was so bad. NO sitcom in television history dropped in quality as dramatically as HAPPY DAYS did. Why air the later seasons?
kidinthe70s 37 months ago
I like the earlier seasons of Happy Days better( 1&2) as I have 3 & 4 but the audience is roaring, laughing and not as enjoyable and its sad to know Pinky & Fonzie did not last due to the actress Roz Kelly not getting along with the cast. I was watching Happy Days regularly every day as I missed the later seasons. Yet it seems they have gone all over the place and out of order. They are on Season 4 right now, but they could be on Season 8 the next day. I have the dvds now, as Me tv is all over the place in playing them
kidinthe70s kidinthe70s 37 months ago
Im watching the Pinky loves Fonzie episode I liked Maureen better the stripper to marry Fonzie. Pinky was over the top in Pink" with her Pinkettes. Maureen was a better choice....
GinaSouth 38 months ago
Does anyone know anything about the painting over the sofa in the 1st season? Are those muskrats?
MetalHeadBrewer1966 38 months ago
Is it just me or is there different livingroom sets?
LindaGomez 39 months ago
The show started out as being a sort of comedy-drama, more of a coming of age story for Richie and his friends. It seemed more authentic for the 1950s with period music to match. And more outdoor scenes were filmed. The tone was definitely different. After the 2nd season it got stupid and lost the original idea of the 1950s. I read an article that the ratings started to slip during season 2, so Garry Marshall retooled the entire series spotlighting more of the Fonz, who was originally a secondary character. It may have worked, but the original charm and wistfulness of the first 2 seasons were gone.
RobCole 42 months ago
I thought it was funny how Richie and Ralph seemed to be VERY talented multi-instrumentalists in their band, lol. Guitar, piano, bass, drums, sax. I forget the episode, but there's one where Richie is playing guitar, the camera pans away and comes back as he's playing a sax solo, pans away again and comes back as he's back on guitar.
FrankieRae 47 months ago
Another forgotten moment is when Laverne and Shirley were on Happy Days they had strong accents, not sure if it was New Jersey or NYC (ex. Bronx). But when their own show came out they no longer had the accents.
MadMadMadWorld FrankieRae 44 months ago
I also noticed that change in vocal accent. Laverne (Penny Marshall) had a strong Bronx accent (birthplace), that she toned down a little from her first appearances on H.D. Trivia: her first real birth name was Carole! Carole Penny Marshall. Cindy Williams ("Shirley") was born in the Van Nuys district in Los Angeles, so she had no NY accent.
Plurbus 47 months ago
Seasons 1 and 2 are the best. After a while the show just got stupid.

Eventually the actors stopped caring about clothing and hairstyles and didn't even try to look like the period they were supposed to be in.

A good example is the absolutely awful character of Chachi.

The writing in the last years of the show was embarrassingly bad.
RobCole Plurbus 42 months ago
I agree. It's hard to look at the hairstyles, especially Ralph's giant red afro, and think it's the early 60's lol.
Brian32223 Plurbus 26 months ago
Chachi was the worst addition to this series, Once he comes in, I drop watching. Maybe the first season, but after that it's over and Joanie became a very non funny.
Brian32223 10 months ago
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Brian32223 10 months ago
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TinaBuchanan 47 months ago
Bobby Nicholson played both J. Cornelius Cobb and Clarabell.
AnnieM 47 months ago
I guess I'm in the minority, as I preferred the studio audience episodes. I quit watching after Ron Howard left though, as my favorite aspect of the show was the friendship between Richie and Fonzie.
AllisonWunderland 47 months ago
Happy Days is one of my all time favorites 😉🤗 It doesn't matter what season is airing ☺️👍
Allison 47 months ago
#9 the Tony Randall cameo. The sweater he wore in the cameo he also wore in at least one episode of The Odd Couple. It's a wool sweater comprised of different pastel squares (panels).
Wiseguy 47 months ago
Linda Purl went from Ron Howard's girlfriend to Andy Griffith's daughter. Like dating your sister.
Wiseguy 47 months ago
"Fonzie's Getting Married" was actually the final episode of the second season filmed. Once they had an audience, they never went back. They must have really rushed post-production to air it in the middle of the season. (Just the opposite with the "Gomer Pyle, USMC" episode of Andy Griffith. It really was filmed in the middle of the season but held over for broadcast until the end of the season after a couple of other episodes with Gomer which were filmed after.)
ed45 47 months ago
I wonder why they began with season 2? Something wrong with beginning with season 1?
Wiseguy ed45 47 months ago
They didn't say that. What they said is that all the references in the article referred to season two episodes.
dmarkwind ed45 47 months ago
Just a guess, but METV is probably currently showing season 2 episodes, so that's what they're highlighting. These articles are interesting, but they're also promotional.
Wiseguy dmarkwind 47 months ago
They haven't shown anything yet. It says right in the article: "Look for these things yourself when Happy Days premieres on MeTV this Monday, June 1."
robert ed45 47 months ago
yes, season one episodes were not very good actually. they can't show them. limited fonzie minutes for one thing.
RobCole robert 42 months ago
Some of them were pretty good!
'S1 E3' when Richie gets drunk was pretty funny.
Richie: "All we had was some beer in teeny-weeny glasses"
Howard: "How many teeny-weeny glasses did you have?"
Richie: "72..."
Or 'S1 E4', when Richie sneaks out to watch Fonzie drag race in Ralphs hot rod;
'S1 E7' when Richie convinces Fonzie to go back to school, then refuses to help him cheat;
'S1 E10' when Richie and the guys get taken in a rigged poker game and Howard wins their money back for them;
'S1 E13' when Richie brings home the beatnik girl;
'S1 E15' when Potsie's bike is stolen by a gang member, and Fonzie has to rescue the guys in a pool hall on the gang members' turf.
Lots of good episodes in Season 1!
TomLawrence RobCole 31 months ago
Exactly. That was the best season, in my opinion. It was more real, more ‘50s, and funnier.
jamiahsh 47 months ago
Wasn’t the Love American style episode entitled “Love and the Happy Days?”
Wiseguy jamiahsh 47 months ago
The original title was "Love and the Television Set" before anyone knew it would become a series. It was later retitled. Also before it was shown on Love, American Style it was a standalone pilot for a new series to be called "New Family in Town." And also, there was a pilot episode filmed before the one broadcast where the series was titled "The Happy Days" which featured still another actor playing Chuck.
serickjr Wiseguy 41 months ago
I just found and watched the Love American Style episode... it is titled Love and Happy Days Here is a screenshot I just took.
serickjr Wiseguy 41 months ago
Another fun fact I just discovered in the Love American Style segment, Howard was played by Harold Gould and Joanie was played by Susan Neher.
bsantaniello jamiahsh 38 months ago
I think it was love and the happy days too. I remember watching it when it was on Love American Style
bsantaniello jamiahsh 38 months ago
I just went on YouTube and out love and the happy days and yes it shows that as title with all the credits. You are correct!👍🏻
Kiyone57 jamiahsh 36 months ago
Both titles are correct. On the original airing as a Love American Style (LAS) segment, it *was* called "Love and the Television Set." The retitling came to emphasize the connection since Happy Days became such a hit.
Melfins 47 months ago
Agreed, the first 2 seasons were the best. It was funnier, better stories, more teenage hijinx. Once the live audience began the actors became full of themselves.
Melfins Melfins 47 months ago
Reminded me of Archie Comics.
JoeGuenther Melfins 47 months ago
After season 2 Marion was more of an airhead. Fonzie was used too much and especially in post Ron Howard episodes the audience wouldn't shut up. Too much cheering of the stars of the show. Sadly the best joke in the whole series is gone in syndication. Is Happy Days uncut on dvd?
RonStewart JoeGuenther 47 months ago
Remind me of what the best joke was, please.

I watched Happy Days in first run religiously for many seasons, but grew out of it - or it grew away from me. I tried a few years ago to watch early episodes (definitely the better episodes) on MeTV, but just couldn't get into it. Maybe in my late 50s, teenaged hijinks have lost their appeal.
Wiseguy JoeGuenther 47 months ago
Network (MeTV, etc.) and syndication (local stations) often show different versions of episodes, different parts cut out. DVDs should be uncut but I think Happy Days ran into some music rights issues including with the original theme "Rock around the Clock."
frenchman71 Melfins 47 months ago
I only own the first 2 seasons on video. You're right...after that the show was stupid, the live audience would cheer everything that was said and too many lame and unforgettable characters would be introduced.
frenchman71 JoeGuenther 47 months ago
Yes, it is. I own just the first 2 seasons on DVD so I assume all the seasons are available. Try amazon.com/movies & TV or deepdiscount.com. But as I posted earlier...after the 2nd season the show got terrible.
JoeGuenther 37 months ago
I always liked Fonzie the best. And I didn't like the way Marion stayed on Howard all the time about his eating, that part in the opening sequence where she snatches his food away from him especially gets on my nerves.
SalIanni 47 months ago
In the first episode, "All The Way", Arnold's Drive-In is named "Arthur's". No reason is given and nobody in the cast mentions it by name. In the second episode, the name is changed to Arnold's which stays for the remainder of the series. In the last couple of seasons, Arnold's is co-owned by Fonzie so, indirectly, it could be considered "Arthur's" again.
Wiseguy SalIanni 47 months ago
And there must have been a real "Arnold" who changed it from "Arthur's" because by the time the Arnold who was shown (real name Matsuo Takahashi) got the diner he just left the name as it was and inherited the "nickname."
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