America's favorite TV mom Marion Ross did everything for her daughter, as her mom did for her

Marion grew up a middle kid like Richie Cunningham. She named her only daughter after her mom.

In the last episode of Happy Days to feature Leather Tuscadero, the spunky rocker gets transformed into a sophisticated lady to attend a military ball with Ralph Malph.

To help Leather achieve this transformation, Mrs. Cunningham served as "Marion, Fairy Godmother."

On Happy Days, Mrs. Cunningham actor Marion Ross became America's favorite mom, and most girls in the audience would've likely enjoyed some coaching from Mrs. C before a big event.

For Ross, playing a mom became everything, and after Happy Days, she continued the motherly tradition by taking on roles for grandmas.

It will likely not surprise you, then, to learn that growing up in a small town in Minnesota, Ross had a special bond with her own mom.

"I have a picture here of mother holding me, wrapped up in blankets at the edge of a lake," Ross told Chaska Herald in 2012 while reflecting on her childhood.

Living up in the north, Ross was so obsessed with movies that even during severe winter, she'd trek through the snow to the theater with her family. "We would walk across the ice to go to the theater," Ross told The Los Angeles Times in 2009. "Coming home it was dark and you would cross the frozen ice. I would be weeping and standing under the streetlight with the light coming down and snow would be falling in my face. I would say, 'There is no music up and under my life. What's missing?'"

What was missing, it turns out, was just asking her mom and dad to help her achieve her dream of being an actor. As soon as she did, they moved the family twice to support young Marion.

"The desire was enormous that I had," Ross recalled. "I was about 13… and by the time I was 22, I was under contract to Paramount. Now I realize how amazing that was."

This kind of support might lead you to believe Ross was an only child, but she was the second of three, like Richie Cunningham. Ross told the Herald her birth order led her to not expect much help at all.

"You have a lot of drive, a lot of initiative," Ross said of being a middle child. "You don't expect people to do a lot for you."

But Ross' mom Ellen and dad Gordon were willing to go anywhere for their middle daughter, and they got her to Hollywood by age 15. Ross remembers feeling silly because she thought it would've been a better move to go to New York, but it turns out her parents knew best!

By the time Ross was cast on Happy Days, she was 20 years into her career, and a mom herself, of two. Her own kids were close in age to Richie and Joanie on the show, too.

"I did a great job," Ross told The Los Angeles Times of her mothering abilities.

Her son is named Jim. For her daughter, Ross paid tribute to her own mom, calling her Ellen. Both kids followed their mom onto TV, Ellen as a producer on shows like Friends and Jim as an actor notably voicing cartoon characters, including once voicing "Ron Howard" for Family Guy.

For the younger Ellen, sharing her mom with Erin Moran on Happy Days ended up strengthening their bond.

"Every time Mom and I have a fight, she will go and talk with Erin and get her advice," Ellen told The Sacramento Bee in 1979. "Often she comes back home and says, 'I talked with Erin today and she said you're right. So I'm sorry.' But there are big differences between the mom I have and the one Erin has on Happy Days. My mom is not nearly so dippy. And she's a lot more strict. We have to do what we're told, and we have a curfew."

Ellen's first big passion wasn't for TV production, but for horseback riding. She said Marion would bend over backward to make sure Ellen was always prepared to ride. To her, this made her real mom even better than the TV mom the whole world adored.

"Mom was incredible," Ellen said. "She'd wake up at 5 am when I had a show. She'd help me get the horse ready, help me clean my tack. Once she even trailered my horse to the show. Now Mrs. Cunningham wouldn't have done that!"

Because Marion had a loving mother who would go anywhere to help her daughter achieve her dreams, Ross said this extreme kind mothering came naturally to her, and it only makes sense that her own kids would reap the biggest benefits of her overly nurturing nature.

"The truth is, I have been a mother of one kind or another most of my life," Ross said.

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JeffBaker 34 months ago
Ross must have had a ball playing Kitty's nasty mother-in-law on "That 70s Show." Casting against type and done perfectly!
Bro69 34 months ago
I still love when Robin Williams guest star on one episode of Happy Days. Which led to the spin off Mork& Mindy. Robin would make a second appearance on Happy Days as Mork( it was attempt to boost the sagging ratings of M&M)in a clips show
Mark091 35 months ago
On the episode of Happy Days
Called Fonzie Joins The Band
Fonzie (Henry Winkler) did a
Bongo Solo to impress a girl
Named Rita Chittinson .
Was Rita Chittinson played by
Marion Ross's real daughter??
Whoever played Rita was a
Good looking actress .
Mark091 Mark091 35 months ago
I noticed in the episode of Happy Days Fonzie Joins The Band Richie's band has 2 persons playing 2 different
Drums. Bag Zombroski Neil J.
Schwartz played the drums in
Richie's band and Fonzie Henry Winkler.played bongo drums.
Flash4001 35 months ago
She and Anson Williams were on RoadDog Trucking News with Mark Willis talking about Fatigue & Driving (Two Seperate times. Not together). Anson "Potsie" Weber is the decendant of Dr. Heimliech. That is his Great Uncle.
lisalabua 35 months ago
Thanks for the answer..being Chuck👍✌
WordsmithWorks 35 months ago
"Marion grew up a middle kid like Richie Cunningham." What? I though Richie was the big brother of Joanie and it was just the two siblings. Is MeTV trying to say Fonzie was a surrogate big brother to Richie, thus making his a middle child? Was their an older brother that just disappeared? No, that would be too unbelievable. I don't understand. 😀😀
lisalabua WordsmithWorks 35 months ago
I forget who was the older brother..his name??
There was an older brother named Chuck. Google "Chuck Cunningham Syndrome" for an interesting explanation.
olddogg WordsmithWorks 35 months ago
Chuck was the basketball jock. I think he was only on for 1 or 2 episodes(?) and then he went "off to college," You know... written out of the storyline.
"Was there an older brother that just disappeared? No, that would be too unbelievable." That was supposed to be funny. Oh well.
justjeff 35 months ago
If I may leave a serious note for a moment...

Prayers for the potential victims and their family members for the condo building collapse in Surfside, Florida (just north of Miami Beach).

Two of the missing individuals are Arnold Notkin and his wife. Arnie was my phys-ed teacher during 6th grade (1963-64) when I first came to Miami Beach with my late parents from Brooklyn, NY in early October, 1963.

I continued to know Arnie through his friendship with the Community School Director at Ida Fisher Jr. High when I was involved with the Community School Program as a teenager.

I'd just spoken with Arnie a couple of months ago. At the age of 86, I'm doubting that he and his spouse made it through this catastrphe, but I hope I'm wrong.

Currently there are still 99 people unaccounted for (not all dead - just not located... whether victims or people out of town).

Thank you for letting me vent. I prefer to be the bearer of jokes, puns and silly sidebars... but this is a sad day for us here in the otherwise Sunshine State...
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justjeff Peter_Falk_Fan 35 months ago
...many thanks...
kimmer justjeff 35 months ago
I'm here in Florida also. Such a tragic situation....I've kept my prayers going since the news broke. Never lose hope...
justjeff kimmer 35 months ago
While there's always hope, I'm afraid I'm a bit more pragmatic. All I can do is pray for the souls of those in the building, their families and the firast responders who are working so tirelessly.
texasluva LaDolceVita 35 months ago
Happy 4th Of July everyone.

Holidays are supposed to be fun. So I am going to give it to you. What happens when you are a famous wanted man. Someone named Dr. Evil wants him bad. The bottom line is to---Kill Austin Powers. As you can see what failure becomes at the start of movie. Once you watch 5 minutes your done for and have to see what's to transpire.

Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1997) (Yeah Baby) 1 hr 29 min- Adventure Comedy

Director: Jay Roach
Mike Myers
Elizabeth Hurley
Michael York
Mimi Rogers
Robert Wagner
Seth Green

I could not find any of your threads until now so here is the movie I sent our players. Good for you both to be back.
Andybandit 35 months ago
Marion Ross is a classy lady and great actress.
Flash4001 Andybandit 35 months ago
Yes she is. She is very Caring, Thoughtful and, Loving
LoveMETV22 35 months ago
Bring back Happy Days to the Sunday line-up with Laverne and Shirley and add Three's Company. That would be Memorable TV from the mid 70's, (just an opinion). Or do it on Tuesday night @ 8:00, 8:30 and 9:00.
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LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
No, HD,L&S and TC are on Pluto TV. Under the Classic TV category (which you could consider Retro if you want).
LoveMETV22 stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Too funny {{ Pluto TV }}.
richardhoover7 LoveMETV22 35 months ago
threes company is on antenna tv another of those classic channels that works with metv and others like them so no it will not be on until antenna tv no longer has a contract with them.
LoveMETV22 richardhoover7 35 months ago
Thanks. Well one can always hope Lol .
Pacificsun 35 months ago
Very nice story. I like it when the actor's real life kind of parallels the role for which they're famous. Marion Ross just seems to have that inner happiness! Now we know it's authentic.

(my mom spelled her name the same way)
Pacificsun 35 months ago
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Pacificsun stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Well I'm not sure I understand the comment. But I can add this. When my mom looked for her birth certificate, she discovered her name wasn't on it. That's not entirely unusual, absent of the technology and tedious record keeping for that day and age. But it did giver her the chance to reconfirm a name she had gone by for many years. Including the spelling. I think she was happy with everything.
Pacificsun 35 months ago
This comment has been removed.
Mark091 stephaniestavr5 35 months ago
Marion Ross is a wonderful actress and also I enjoyed
Reading your comments
Mark091 Mark091 35 months ago
I would like to see METV write
Articles on the movie and TV
Roles of Marion Ross.
I would also like to see METV write articles on the following
Happy Days Cast members:
(Gavan O' Herlihy)
(Randolph Roberts)
Bag(Neil J. Schwartz)
Eugene Belvin (Denis Mandel)
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
Moose Barry Greenberg
Roger Phillips Ted McGinley
Jenny Piccalo Cathy Silvers
And I would also like to see METV write articles on:
Dawn Wells(Mary Ann Summers
On Gilligan's Island)
Roy Stuart Cpl BOYLE on Gomer
Pyle USMC)
Russell Johnson (Professor Roy
Hinkley on Gilligan's Island)
Tommy Leonetti Cpl Nick Cuccinelli on Gomer Pyle USMC)
Don Washbrook(Herbie Bates on
Petticoat Junction)
Russell Horton (Junior Hocker
On Petticoat Junction).
On Love Boat one time Tom
Bosley and Marion Ross of
Happy Days made guest appearances on Love Boat
And they said that their son's
On the TV show Day By Day
Ross Harper dreamed that he
Was Chuck Brady the Lost Member of the Brady Bunch.
I believe that the character
Chuck Brady was inspired by
Lost member of the CUNNINGHAM family on
Happy Days.
Family Guy did a spoof of
That TV show.
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