Al Molinaro made his TV debut on Green Acres at the age of 50

You're never too old to get your big break on an L.A. billboard.

The Green Acres episode "A Prize in Every Package" has a lot going for it. For starters, it's hilarious, arguably the best episode of season four. Lisa finds gemstones in her box of Crickly Wickly cereal. Jewel thieves dumped their loot in the factory back in Chicago, you see. Alan Hale Jr., a.k.a. the Skipper on Gilligan's Island, guest stars as the sheriff, to boot.

The episode begins with a clever opening credits sequence the breaks the fourth wall in a way that only Green Acres dared in the Sixties. The producer, writer and director credits are scrawled as graffiti on the wall behind the crooks.

Oh, and you will immediately recognize one of the robbers — Al Molinaro. The distinctive actor is probably best known as Al from Happy Days (not to mention that Weezer video). This episode, which originally aired on January 22, 1969, gave Molinaro his first TV credit. A week later, he popped up on The Name of the Game. Later that year, he turned up on Get Smart.

It's hard not to picture Al without his apron, serving the teens at Arnold's Drive-In. In reality, his big break came thanks to a chef's hat. But fist, some backstory.

Born and raised in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Molinaro was perfectly suited to playing a Milwaukee-area diner operator on Happy Days. He moved to Los Angeles as an adult, starting a collection agency before getting into the real estate game. After selling one of his properties to a shopping center development, Molinaro used the cash to fund a career in acting — and modeling.

In 1969, Molinaro was turning 50 years old. A prominent billboard in Los Angeles featured the aspiring actor dressed as a chef. According to Molinaro's Associated Press obituary (he passed away in 2015 at the age of 96), producers of Get Smart spotting the billboard alongside the road and decided to cast the guy as Agent 44 based on his looks. 

His first episode of Get Smart, "Ironhand," aired in October 1969. Molinaro honed his craft in comedy improv classes, which is where he was discovered by Garry Marshall, who cast the affable fellow to play Murray Greshler on The Odd Couple in 1970.

But it all began with a jewel heist on Green Acres

Watch "A Prize in Every Package" this Wednesday, June 17, at 9:30PM | 8:30C on MeTV!

Watch Green Acres on MeTV!

Weeknights at 9:30 PM

*available in most MeTV markets
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AgingDisgracefully 24 days ago
What about that time he slapped the crap out of Tony Randall because "someone had to"?
Wiseguy 24 days ago
Knew Al Molinaro from The Odd Couple long before he was on Happy Days.
pidge 25 days ago
Doesn’t METV have a copy editor? Oy!
Bobbybob 25 days ago
I love watching me TV it has all my favorite shows when I was a kid
AllisonWunderland 25 days ago
Just finished watching Green Acres and guess who was on there? Al Molinaro himself!! 😉
stepm42 26 days ago
Put me tv on att tv miss the great showa
mrwatcher stepm42 25 days ago
You can get METV with an antenna, its an OTA ( over the air channel) Unless its not in your area. You can look it up. I have cable but no METV, so I hooked up an antenna so I can get METV.
Lucia826 26 days ago
Please get MeTV on YouTubeTV. We want to watch our shows. There are 8 of us and we ❤️❤️ MeTV!!!
Like Antenna TV, METV has its own YT channel. Like Antenna TV, it broadcasts shows and more {Stories,etc that you would see on the website.} So you can see METV on YT.
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