6 fascinating facts about Don Most and Ralph Malph
He has something in common with John Travolta and scored a Top 100 pop hit.
Image: The Everett Collection
Ah, Ralph Malph. The character dreamt of being a comedian but in the end became an optometrist. Still, the merry yuckster continues to make us laugh on Happy Days, slinging one-liners at Arnold's and put-downs at Potsie. He was the Jughead to Richie's Archie. He may not have been the Fonz, but he should have been the one up there jumping that shark — and we mean that in the nicest way possible.
So raise a milkshake and toast Jefferson High's class clown! Don Most turns 63 today. Years after Happy Days, he appeared on Star Trek: Voyager (playing a Quarren, for those Trekkies keeping track) and on Glee (playing Emma's dad, for those Gleeks keeping track). As Ralph himself would say, "I still got it!"
Here are things you might not know about Most and his most iconic character.
1. His first screen credit came on 'Emergency!'
Here's something he has in common with John Travolta. Both young actors made their screen debut on the rescue series. Most appeared on Emergency! weeks before the premiere of Happy Days. Donny Most (as he was then billed) suffers a spinal injury in a car crash… and his girlfriend just might be pregnant.
2. Most was almost cast as both Potsie and Richie.
Anson Williams was hours late to his audition for the role of Potsie. In the meantime, the producers had auditioned Don Most and fell in love with the actor. Most also auditioned for the lead role of Richie. While the studio adored Most, it felt his looks were not in line with the vision of Potsie. Thus, the role of Ralph was created for him.
3. Ralph Malph had multiple parents on 'Happy Days.'
In the first season, Ralph is the son of Hazel and Harry Malph, the owner of a dress store. However, in subsequent seasons, his parents change identity and profession. Suddenly, he is the offspring of the very Disney-sounding Mickey and Minnie Malph. Mickey is an optometrist, first played by Alan Oppenheimer and later replaced by Jack Dodson of The Andy Griffith Show, pictured here.
4. There was almost a 'Happy Days' spin-off for 'Ralph and Potsie.'
In the season five episode "The Apartment," Ralph, Richie and Potsie rent a run-down flat from Chachi's mom. The three are excited to start life away from home — until Richie gets fed up with his roommate's squabbling. He heads back home. The exploits of the remaining two were meant to launch a new series titled Ralph and Potsie, but the plans were scrapped. Laverne and Shirley had that beat covered, it seems.
5. He charted a pop song on the Billboard Hot 100.
It's only natural that a series so inspired by rock & roll would have many aspiring musicians. Anson "Potsie" Williams' crooned his single "Deeply," which peaked at No. 93 on the Billboard charts in April '77. That just beat out Donny "Ralph" Most, who landed at No. 97 with his song "All Roads (Lead Back To You)" in 1976.
6. He played a KISS-like heavy metal singer on 'CHiPs.'
How's this for breaking character type? Most got to briefly explore the dark side of his musical career as Moloch in the final-season CHiPs episode "Rock Devil Rock." To signal his maturation as an actor, Most was billed here as "Donald." However, he was covered in gothic clown makeup and cruising around in a hearse.