See the cast of Happy Days in their earliest screen roles

They met Alice in Wonderland and worked in forgotten Spielberg projects.

Happy Days has given pop culture so much — the Fonz, "Sit on it!" and the entire concept of jumping of the shark. And that's just Henry Winkler's character.

The sitcom lasted for a decade thanks to its ensemble cast, a wonderful mix of relative newcomers and veterans. Though the sitcom was set in the Fifties, only a few stars of the show were working back then.

Let's (rock and) roll back the clock to see how these actors got their start!

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1. Ron Howard

Before he was Richie, "Ronny" Howard was known from coast to coast as little Opie Taylor, a role he originated on The Danny Thomas Show in 1960 before The Andy Griffith Show charmed America. In the year prior to that, the precocious actor worked a recurring role as Stewart on Dennis the Menace. 1959 proved to be a breakthrough year for the 5-year-old. He landed a significant role — and his movie debut — in The Journey, a Yul Brynner film about the Hungarian Revolution, seen here.

Image: The Everett Collection

2. Henry Winkler

Winkler's screen career does not stretch back much beyond the Fonz. Like many aspiring actors, his career began with a healthy mix of stage work and commercial bookings, like this ad for American Airlines. His primetime TV debut came on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, in a memorable episode titled "The Dinner Party." Perhaps you remember him as the extra guest in Mary's apartment. Then again, he was sharp-dressed in a suit, not in a leather motorcycle jacket.

3. Don Most

"Showtime," the season one finale of M*A*S*H, involves a visiting USO tour and a crisis of faith for Father Mulcahy. Pay close attention to the dying soldier in the bed, the young man over which Mulcahy makes the sign of the cross. It is none other than Don Most in his first screen appearance — uncredited.

4. Anson Williams

A random episode of Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law might seem like the most inauspicious debut on this list, but Anson quietly had the most prestigious collaboration here, arguably. You see, 1971's "Eulogy for a Wide Receiver" was an early directorial credit from Steven Spielberg! The budding director featured Williams as the titular "Wide Receiver" who dies following football practice. Williams gives shows his chops as he stumbles into the locker room shower and collapses. Spielberg demonstrates his creative framing of actors.

5. Marion Ross

Paramount Studios pitched its 1953 romcom Forever Female as the coming-out party for Pat Crowley. The trailer used Crowley's newcomer status as part of the appeal. Quietly, however, the flick featured the film debut of a future TV icon. Marion Ross has a small role as Crowley's friend, Patty. Note the spelling of her name in the opening credits — "Marian Ross." She was born with that spelling. The aspiring actress changed it to "Marion" at the age of 13 because she thought it would look better on marquees. Paramount must not have agreed with her.

Image: Paramount

6. Tom Bosley

What about Mr. Cunningham? Tom Bosley has a much more obscure beginning — literally obscured. He sports loads of clownish makeup and a fake nose as the Knave of Hearts in a 1955 television production of Alice in Wonderland. It aired under the Hallmark Hall of Fame umbrella shortly before Halloween.

7. Erin Moran

The youngest in the Cunningham clan made her breakthrough in 1968. Moran's first credited roles came in that eighth year of her life. On the big screen, she was Laurie, a kid having a phone conversation with Debbie Reynolds in the James Garner comedy How Sweet It Is! The screenwriter on that movie? Garry Marshall, naturally! Shortly thereafter, she landed a recurring role on the animal series Daktari as Jenny Jones.

Image: National General Pictures

8. Scott Baio

Before he was Chachi, he was a boy gangster. The 1976 movie Bugsy Malone told a lighthearted, musical take on the classic noir gangster film. Jodie Foster was the moll. Baio starred as Bugsy Malone himself. Director Alan Parker would go on to helm Fame and Pink Floyd – The Wall.

Image: The Everett Collection

9. Robin Williams

Robin Williams may have only popped up in two episodes of Happy Days, but his wildly successful guest role as the alien Mork would lead to a hit spinoff and kickstart a legendary Hollywood career. The sleazy sketch comedy movie Can I Do It… 'Til I Need Glasses? original left Williams' scenes (playing a lawyer and a man with a toothache) on the cutting room floor. However, shortly after "Nanu Nanu!" became a national catchphrase, the 1977 film was re-released with Williams' scenes restored.

Image: National American Films

10. Pat Morita

Noriyuki "Pat" Morita played Matsuo "Arnold" Takahashi, eponymous owner of Arnold's Drive-In. Following Happy Days, his career crane-kicked to new heights as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid films. The Japanese actor made his screen debut in his homeland, in a 1964 Toho Studios drama titled Car Thieves. By 1967, he was in America, making his television debut alongside Jim Nabors on Gomer Pyle, U.S.M.C.! Look for him in "The Recruiting Poster" — minus the mustache.

Image: The Everett Collection

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HalCromwell 29 days ago
No mention of Al Molinaro?
Yeah, he played a cop on the Odd Couple. He was also on Get Smart for a couple episodes and Bewitched for an episode.
Katina 1 month ago
Wow they didn't say anything about the big brother of Ritchie & Joanie that disappeared & never came back. I would also like to know what happened to Laurie Beth, & Jenny she was Joanies friend.
MaryHelen 1 month ago
ronny howard was on several episoded of dennis the menance
cdub490 1 month ago
Donny Most had a hefty guest starring role in "Emergency" well before "MASH". And, he was credited in that one.
Wiseguy cdub490 1 month ago
His M*A*S*H episode was aired 3/25/73. The Emergency episode was broadcast 12/22/73, nine months later.
daDoctah 1 month ago
That dumb movie with Robin Williams was released in August of 1977 with Robin's scenes cut out, so you can't really call it his debut. That would have been in the attempted revival of "Laugh-In" (without Rowan & Martin) that debuted a month later. A week later, he appeared uncredited on Richard Pryor's short-lived variety show.
WilliamLAllen 1 month ago
Wasn't Pat Morita on an episode of The Odd Couple- he was a war-time buddy of Felix's who opened a Japanese restaurant with Felix's help.
WilliamLAllen 1 month ago
I remember Erin Moran being on an episode of Family Affair. She was a guest of Buffy's for a birthday party. I could very easily be wrong- my memory isn't what it used to be.
MaryHelen WilliamLAllen 1 month ago
she was also on gunsmoke along with jodie foster
LisaDaileyGregory 1 month ago
That's not Donny Most but maybe one of the Chucks
F5Twitster 1 month ago
Following Happy Days, [Noriyuki "Pat" Morita's] career crane-kicked to new heights as Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid films. The Japanese actor made his screen debut in his homeland, in a 1964 Toho Studios drama titled Car Thieves."

Pat Morita was not "a Japanese actor"; Toshiro Mifune was a Japanese actor. Born in California, Morita was a Japanese-American or, more precisely, an American of Japanese descent. BIG difference and, despite Morita's being undeniably proud of his heritage, calling him "a Japanese actor" is insulting because it's unlikely that an American-born actor of European descent, without Asian features, would be described as if he or she was a citizen of another country.

PLEASE learn the difference.

Jon 1 month ago
I've seen "How Sweet It Is" a couple times and remember Erin Moran's scene. Debbie Reynolds' character had been swindled over living accommodations in France by a sleazy man in a park, played by Terry-Thomas. When she called the park payphone trying to find the swindler, a little girl answered the phone. When she was asked what her dad's name was, she said "I think his name is Fred". ;)
DIGGER1 1 month ago


! I am completely dumb-founded! I had no idea that the soldier/patient that Father Mulcahy gave comfort to in the episode "SHOWTIME" was 'DONNY MOST', a.k.a. 'RALPH MALPH'. To me, he looked like a young 'TOBIN BELL', the guy who played 'JIGSAW' in all the 'SAW' films.
I REALLY don't think its him but It could be one of the Chuck Cunningham
Bigclark 1 month ago
That is NOT Don Most!
DIGGER1 Bigclark 1 month ago
Yes it is 'DON MOST', 'BIGCLARK'. Here is the 'IMDb' bio reference to the 'M.A.S.H.' episode, "SHOWTIME", and you'll see that Most is listed as 'PATIENT IN BED(UNCREDITED)'.

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0638402/reference
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I always thought Erin Moran was younger than 13 when she started Happy Days. I always thought Joanie was about 11.

The should have kept Chuck as a character.
cperrynaples 1 month ago
Pat Crowley had an interesting career! She was the leading lady in the last Martin-Lewis film, but is best remembered for Please Don't Eat The Daisies! She is still alive!
Pacificsun cperrynaples 1 month ago
Also Pat Crowley was chosen as the female guest star in the Pilot episode of MFU, for her known chemistry with RV, from having starred with him in Roddenberry's The Lieutenant.
Moody 1 month ago
You failed to mention Ron Howard's role in the movie version of "The Courtship of Eddie's Father" which also starred Glen Ford & Shirley Jones.
cperrynaples Moody 1 month ago
That was after TAGS began, so they didn't count it! Bonus Question: Who played Eddie on TV?
Pacificsun cperrynaples 1 month ago
Brandon Cruz (almost an obscurity back then) but exceptionally cute!
Moody cperrynaples 1 month ago
Oops, good point. That was the subject of the article I guess. Thanks!
Moriyah 1 month ago
Omg, I just saw Gomer Pyle being mentioned!
Pacificsun Moriyah 1 month ago
😉 Ummm, under MeTV Shows you can tag the Gomer Pyle shows as a favorite, and be notified anything there's a mention. Here's the link: https://www.metv.com/shows/
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