8 actors who were almost cast on 'Happy Days'
Which Monkees were up for the role of Fonzie? What other stand-up comic read for Mork?
Would you watch 11 seasons of a sitcom named Cool? That was almost the title of Happy Days. Wise move there. While the Fonz was indeed cool, that title would not quite capture the warm and fuzzy nostalgic feelings of Garry Marshall's smash comedy.
Speaking of the Fonz, that was not the only potential difference in the classic 1970s TV show. Fonzie was almost played by a couple rock stars. In an alternate universe, perhaps MeTV is airing episodes of Cool… with the Monkees.
There were a handful of other notable actors up for major roles on Happy Days. Try to imagine the show with the following cast.
1. Micky Dolenz as the Fonz
Hey, hey, we're the Fonzies / People say we Fonzie around… There is no bigger "What If?" surrounding this feel-good series than the potential casting of Arthur Fonzarelli. The creators were keen on Dolenz, and even Winkler thought his chances were slim when he spotted this adorable pop star at an audition. But it came down to inches. Six of them. Dolenz was thought to be too tall, towering over his costars. The 5' 6" Winkler fit the frame perfectly. Aaaaaayyyyy!
2. Michael Nesmith as the Fonz
Dolenz was not the only Monkee considered for the king of cool. He was too tall, too. Perhaps they could have just had the actor "sit on it."
3. Harold Gould
On February 25, 1972, the anthology series Love, American Style aired a charming tale of a Wisconsin family purchasing its first television set, "Love and the Happy Days." The patriarch of the clan was played by Harold Gould, who would later become Rhoda's dad. He did not make the jump to the Happy Days spin-off, however. We should also mention the often forgotten elder Cunningham sibling Chuck, who was played here by Ric Carrott, and later Gavan O'Herlihy and Randolph Roberts.
4. Dennis Weaver as Howard Cunningham
An early pilot for Happy Days featured Ron Howard, Marion Ross and Dennis Weaver as the core of the Cunningham clan. However, the Duel and McCloud star dropped out.
5. Susan Neher as Joanie
Like Gould, the Neher can claim to have played her character on television. She too appeared in the Love, American Style segment that launched the series, bringing a much different look and vibe to the young Cunningham daughter.
6. Richard Lewis as Mork
What would a neurotic Mork have been like? According to the book I'm Dying Up Here: Heartbreak and High Times in Stand-Up Comedy's Golden Era, Richard Lewis and Robin Williams found themselves in the same Paramount audition room for the guest spot in "My Favorite Orkan." The two budding comics were told to come up with alien voices. Lewis auditioned first, and could only think to do a Danish accent. He stopped in the session and said, "You know, Robin Williams is next. He is Mork, and if he doesn't get this, then you are all crazy." Lewis was always self-deprecating.
Image: Diary of a Young Comic, 1977
7. Robbie Benson as Richie
As told in the book Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms, 1974-1984, Robbie Benson read for the role of Richie (along with another future Happy Days actor below) but did not want the part. A few years later, the young actor would appear in a TV movie called The Death of Richie. Different Richie.
8. Don Most as 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 loved the actor. Most also auditioned for the lead role of Richie. The studio loved Most, but felt his looks were not in line with the vision of Potsie, so they created Ralph for him.