Marion Ross once came to Pat Morita's rescue after a mudslide destroyed his family's home

There were 33,000 cubic feet of mud to dig through. "She came in her heels."

For two days straight in 1978, one of the most intense Pacific storms that Southern California had ever seen raged. The never-ending rainfall caused mudslides that affected hundreds of houses, including the place where Meredith Burgess lived following the success of Rocky. The Academy Award winner watched his patio get sucked out into the sea.

Not too far away, college kids furiously built an enormous barrier of sandbags to protect I Dream of Jeannie star Larry Hagman's house. Unfortunately, no such effort was made to protect Pat Morita's house, which got hit hard.

Three years into his role as Arnold on Happy Days, Morita lived with his wife and kids in Tarzana, California, where they'd been hunkering through the storm. That's when a mudslide raced down the hill behind his house and sent what Morita told the Archive of American Television was "33,000 cubic feet of mud" pouring in from every opening.

He said the mud "filled our pool, banged through the house, and literally, there was three feet of mud in the house and all through the house." According to The Washington Post, the same mudslide shook the foundation of a neighboring Tarzana home so hard, the entire house rolled downhill and landed in the street. It was serious stuff.

Now, picture Morita picking through the mud to salvage what he could of his family's belongings. Who do you think was the first person from the Happy Days cast to check in on Morita?

A neighbor close-by, Marion Ross heard a news report on the radio and couldn't believe what she was hearing. She rushed to see if she could help Morita's family — and she showed up in true Mrs. Cunningham style.

"She came in her heels," Morita said. "She was finely dressed and everything and expressing such heartbreak and grief."

He said she didn't give a thought to her fine clothes and dug right in to help his family retrieve what they could from the wreckage.

"She was in the mud," Morita said, remembering she would pick something out and ask "Here, honey, does this mean anything?"

Or "Can we save that?"

Morita says with a smile how much this moved him, and how much it spoke of her sweet nature, explaining, "That's the mother in her."

In interviews, Ross frequently expressed awe at how talented Morita and his restaurant sidekick Al Molinaro were, marveling at how they improvised their parts on Happy Days. Also, on Gilbert Gottfried's Amazing Colossal Podcast, she sounded just like a mom bursting with pride recalling how Morita went on to be nominated for an Academy Award after Happy Days, for his iconic role in The Karate Kid.

Morita, perhaps forever colored by how Ross came to comfort his family in their time of need, described Ross as an "enormously warm, generous, giving human being."

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kauma 36 months ago
Meredith Burgess? Who he?
mememememe66 42 months ago
I can’t believe how many of you bear your souls and pour your hearts out in the comments.
For heavens sake it’s TV were talking about!

texasluva 42 months ago
Those areas just off the beaches along the cliffs have been a problem with landslides and mud slides for over 100 years. Hwy 101 goes along most of it. I have been up and down parts of it from San Diego up to around Santa Barbara. Though when the state became more populated and some became rich they built houses there regardless. Erosion and with rain and environment changes over time its bound to happen. Unfortunately for Pat Morita, Meredith and 100's of others it was "slide on, slide off".
stephaniestavropoulos 42 months ago
METV: Meredith Burgess??!?! Who's she and what movies did she win academy awards for? I think someone's "handy" digits mistyped and anagrammed the name. "Time Enough At Last " to reveal they should have typed: BURGESS MERIDETH. "Hizzonor, The Penguin."
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I will be dancing to the music You're going to have to face💁‍♂️. Though you're so sincere we'll let you off with this. Now I get to learn Canadian, Pig Latin and Greek 👨‍🎓. Now I know why God was so angry. People built a tower to reach the Heavens. He then made them babble at the Tower of Babel😕. Now we have gone to the Moon, probes to Mars and far away places and no one has found Heaven. Maybe God chilled out knowing.......You can't get to Heaven unless You're good anyway 🤔. Oh here is your facing music🎶🎶😁.
Thanks for the music. but I would have preferred Elton John's & Bernie Taupin's "Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word." I'm not a a real fan of country music. But {as you've done for me,} I forgive you for not knowing. How could you? You just found out now. Thanks again though. You are a fan of Miss Lee's otherwise you wouldn't have chosen the song, right?
You mentioned God and Heaven. Isn't there a saying that goes something like: "God is in His Heaven and all's right with the world? Just after reading what you wrote, this quote seemed appropriate somehow. {But I have a feeling I am using it out of context, or whatever. Which sounds like something I would do!} Thanks again for the music. As the {another} saying goes: "It's the thought that counts."
Nope. Just the I'm Sorry. Picked it out of random. As For God coming down on humankind with punishment when they attempted to build a tower to his abode. That was just part of a old tale to the 200+ different languages we all speak and I was learning a few from you and others (an attempt at humor). I will keep in mind your favorites for the future but this was "face" the music time in fun. Oh, and thanks for forgiving me
15 days and MeTV still hasn't corrected the Meredith Burgess/Burgess Meredith mistake. Shows how much they really respect celebrities of the past and the intelligence of their viewers.
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