Henry Winkler adored Fonzie's soulmate but said he "straightened out too much"
"Beautiful, delicate, majestic," Winkler described Linda Purl.
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In the Happy Days episode "Going Steady," Fonzie shocked the world by deciding he was ready to settle down.
This was the moment that signaled the final shift in the Fonz's character, as he falls for Ashley, a single mom played by actor Linda Purl. The actor who played the Fonz, Henry Winkler nearly swooned when he described Purl to the Television Academy as "a beautiful, delicate, majestic young woman. Really fabulous."
He said before Purl came along, Fonzie "was a player," snapping his fingers at women in a macho move that Winkler warns does not have at all the same effect on the ladies in the real world.
But Happy Days fans had already met Purl before she joined the cast in 1982 to play Fonzie's soulmate.
In the second season premiere, "Richie Moves Out," Purl played Richie's love interest, a gum-chewing girl named Gloria. In an interview with Pop Goes the Culture TV, Purl explained how she first got cast on Happy Days as Richie's girl. She said she was already friends with Ralph Malph actor Donny Most, and when she moved to town, he told her he couldn't guarantee that he could help her get a role, but he said, "Well, you know, come on down and meet the casting people."
The casting people liked Purl, and she appeared as Gloria for a handful of episodes in the second season. "It was such a fun set right from the get-go," Purl said.
Then she disappeared, as Richie moved on, which you might just chalk up to the nature of the show. However, Purl said she recalled there was a reason why her character got cut — and it's actually pretty funny.
In "Richie Moves Out," we first meet Gloria sitting on the couch next to Richie. When he goes to make a move, she stops, worried about disrespecting his family in their home.
Richie assures her his parents are sleeping, and here's where she makes the fatal move for the character: Gloria removes the gum she's been chewing in order to make out with Richie.
Purl said there were people at the network just repulsed by this unsanitary display on such a squeaky-clean show. They were completely grossed out by this girl holding a piece of chewing gum onscreen in an otherwise romantic scene.
However, the casting people remained as enchanted by Linda Purl as Winkler was, and when it came time to cast Fonzie's greatest love, she returned to take that second role on the show.
Winkler wasn't exactly fond of how his character went from this rebellious type getting all the girls to someone with the straight-ahead moral compass of Mr. C.
"I think he straightened out too much toward the end," Winkler said. "He became a teacher. He kind of settled down. I changed my T-shirt from white to black."
Other than that, though there was still plenty of Fonz left in the end, he said. "I think basically he stayed the same," Winkler said.