Ron Howard admits he felt ''disrespect'' when Happy Days shifted focus to Fonzie
Richie was supposed to be the lead character. The Fonz changed all that.
On Friday, November 12, Ron Howard appeared on The Graham Norton Show. The former-child-star-turned-acclaimed-director made a surprising revelation to the British host. Happy Days were not entirely happy for the actor.
"It was a really interesting kind of paradoxical situation because the show began and the Richie Cunningham character was the undeniable lead of the show," Howard explained.
"When we would go out of the road to promote the show, it was just insane, focused on Fonzie, clearly that was very exciting," the former Opie explained. "Except the executives, studio heads, network heads, you know, they started treating me with a lot of disrespect from a business standpoint [and] in terms of interaction."
Howard added, "The press kept saying 'What's it like? Do you feel like you've become a secondhand citizen on your own show?'"
But he was quick to explain this in no way affected his relationship with his Fonzie co-star Henry Winkler.
"I certainly didn't feel it within our friendship, which endures to this day," Howard said. "He's the godfather of all four of my kids."
Howard remains rather sanguine about the experience in hindsight. He credited the studio's treatment of him as the inspiration to become a director.
"More than anything, it reminded me…to pursue my own dream," he said, "which was to be in charge of productions, the stories I wanted to tell and be the filmmaker."
Howard would leave Happy Days at the end of its seventh season, shifting the focus even further to Fonzie, who became a teacher and family man. Richie Cunningham would return in season 11 for a two-part event, "Welcome Home." But it was clearly Fonzie's show by then.
Watch the Graham Norton interview below.