13 tiny details you never noticed in early episodes of Happy Days

Look for these little details in the second season!

Over its 11-year run, Happy Days underwent many changes, from its visual style to its cast. The hit Seventies sitcom about the Fifties featured fascinating little details in its early years. The first two seasons stand out for several reasons. 

Let's take a deep dive into the details. 

Look for these things yourself when Happy Days premieres on MeTV this Monday, June 1.

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1. Linda Purl played Richie's girlfriend years before she was Fonzie's girlfriend.

Younger generations might recognize Linda Purl as Pam Beesly's mom (and Michael Scott's brief love interest) on The Office. Decades earlier, she was Gloria, Richie's steady in a handful of early Happy Days episodes. Look for her in the first episodes of season two, notably "Richie Moves Out" and "Richie's Car." But! Purl returned to Happy Days in the Eighties to play Ashley Pfister, the single mother who becomes the love of Fonzie's life. Remember her daughter, Heather, portrayed by Heather "They're he-e-e-re" O'Rourke of Poltergeist fame?

2. There was briefly a replacement Chuck.

Chuck, Richie's older brother, is the forgotten Cunningham family member. The character is overlooked in general, but it is especially easy to forget that two actors played the elder sibling. Randolph Roberts, seen here, appeared in just two episodes ("Richie Moves Out" and "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas") in season two before the character vanished without a trace nor a mention. Heck, in the series finale, Howard Cunningham declares how proud he is of his "two kids"! Ouch!

3. Ron Howard reunited with "Mr. McBeevee."

"Mr. McBeevee" remains one of the most beloved episodes of The Andy Griffith Show. You know, the one in which Opie meets a jingling man in a silver hat (telephone company employee) who Barney and Andy find to be beyond belief? Karl Swenson played the role — and reunited with "Opie" in "Richie's Car" when he appeared as a police sergeant!

4. This might be Laverne's forgotten relative.

"Who's Sorry Now" reunited Richie with one of his old girlfriends (more on that in the next item). Pay close attention to her friend at the diner, a girl who once endured an uncomfortable "Juicy Fruit" kiss with Potsie. The character's name? "Rita DeFazio." Of course, DeFazio is the surname of Laverne in the Happy Days spinoff Laverne & Shirley. Is this Laverne's lost cousin? Sister? How many DeFazios could there be in suburban Milwaukee in the 1950s?

5. Footage from the 1972 pilot was recycled.

As we mentioned, "Who's Sorry Now?" sees the return of Arlene Nestrock, Richie's girlfriend from "three years earlier." There is even a flashback in which we see a younger Richie meeting Arlene. Considering this is just the third episode of the second season, how did they record such footage? Well, this scene is taken from "Love and the Television Set," the pilot that aired as an episode of Love, American Style in 1972, similar to how Star Trek recycled elements of its pilot "The Cage" for "The Menagerie." The characters also make reference to the plot, remembering how the Cunninghams were the "first family in town to own a TV."

6. The Cunninghams inhereted decorations from the Brady Bunch — or should that be the other way around?

The Cunninghams may have been ahead of the curve with their fancy new television set, but some decor in their home was secondhand. Take a close look at the green tile art hanging by the kitchen door in "Fonzie's Getting Married." The same prop was formerly seen nailed to wood paneling in the living room of The Brady Bunch, seen here behind Cindy. (Both sitcoms had ties to Paramount Studios, which explains that.) Of course, Happy Days took place in the 1950s, while the Brady dwelled in the early 1970s, so perhaps we should say the Bradys inherited it from the Cunninghams?

7. This pinball machine did not exist in the 1950s.

The Bally Nip-It pinball machine first hit arcades in 1973. It introduced a new "Balligator" feature to game play. So how exactly was Richie Cunningham leaning against the machine in the 1950s? Look for the pinball machine in "You Go to My Head."

8. But the magazines are period appropriate.

The pinball machine may have been anachronistic, but we must give Happy Days credit for details in the reading material. In "Not with My Sister, You Don't," Howard peruses an issue of LIFE in bed. That particular issue hit newsstands in April of 1957. That's legendary television comedian Ernie Kovacs on the cover, undoubtedly an influence on Garry Marshall.

9. Tony Randall went uncredited in a fake werewolf movie.

In "Not with My Sister, You Don't," Joanie goes on a date with Fonzie's nephew and clone, Spike. The young pair take in a werewolf movie. Notice who's playing the lead in this fictional film? It's phony footage featuring Tony Randall of The Odd Couple, making an uncredited cameo as the werewolf!

10. Garry Marshall's kids played trick-or-treaters.

Happy Days was obviously a family affair for Garry Marshall — his sister Penny popped up as Laverne DeFazio! Those are not the only members of the Marshall clan onscreen! In "Haunted," the Halloween episode, his three children Kathleen (princess), Scott (cowboy) and Lori (witch) play young trick-or-treaters!

11. Garry Marshall himself drummed.

Marshall made cameos himself — behind a drumset. Look for his first appearance behind the kit in "Fonzie's Getting Married," keeping the beat in nightclub with the exotic dancer (a.k.a. Fonzie's girl). 

12. "Fonzie's Getting Married" was an experiment with a studio audience.

Garry's rhythmic cameo is hardly the only notable thing about "Fonzie's Getting Married." The episode — midway through the second season — was also the show's experiment with a live studio audience. Up to that point, the series had filmed with a single camera and laugh track, like The Andy Griffith Show, giving Happy Days a cinematic look. However, Happy Days experiment with a three-camera sitcom format, the same pioneered by I Love Lucy. The network must have liked what it saw because Happy Days permanently switched to this production format in season three.

13. Happy Days producer Bob Brunner played Clarabell the Clown.

The season-two episode "The Howdy Doody Show" brings together two beloved television classics. Joanie appears on the popular children's program, while Richie is tempted to grab a photograph of Clarabell the Clown without his makeup. Buffalo Bob Smith, host of the original Howdy Doody, guest-stars as himself. However, that is not the "real" Clarabell. Bob Keeshan (Captain Kangaroo), J. Cornelius Cobb and Lew Anderson were the original actors under the makeup. In this episode, however, it is Happy Days producer and writer Bob Brunner!

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FrankieRae 1 month ago
Another forgotten moment is when Laverne and Shirley were on Happy Days they had strong accents, not sure if it was New Jersey or NYC (ex. Bronx). But when their own show came out they no longer had the accents.
Plurbus 1 month ago
Seasons 1 and 2 are the best. After a while the show just got stupid.

Eventually the actors stopped caring about clothing and hairstyles and didn't even try to look like the period they were supposed to be in.

A good example is the absolutely awful character of Chachi.

The writing in the last years of the show was embarrassingly bad.
TinaBuchanan 1 month ago
Bobby Nicholson played both J. Cornelius Cobb and Clarabell.
AnnieM 1 month ago
I guess I'm in the minority, as I preferred the studio audience episodes. I quit watching after Ron Howard left though, as my favorite aspect of the show was the friendship between Richie and Fonzie.
AllisonWunderland 1 month ago
Happy Days is one of my all time favorites 😉🤗 It doesn't matter what season is airing ☺️👍
Allison 1 month ago
#9 the Tony Randall cameo. The sweater he wore in the cameo he also wore in at least one episode of The Odd Couple. It's a wool sweater comprised of different pastel squares (panels).
Wiseguy 1 month ago
Linda Purl went from Ron Howard's girlfriend to Andy Griffith's daughter. Like dating your sister.
Wiseguy 1 month ago
"Fonzie's Getting Married" was actually the final episode of the second season filmed. Once they had an audience, they never went back. They must have really rushed post-production to air it in the middle of the season. (Just the opposite with the "Gomer Pyle, USMC" episode of Andy Griffith. It really was filmed in the middle of the season but held over for broadcast until the end of the season after a couple of other episodes with Gomer which were filmed after.)
ed45 1 month ago
I wonder why they began with season 2? Something wrong with beginning with season 1?
Wiseguy ed45 1 month ago
They didn't say that. What they said is that all the references in the article referred to season two episodes.
dmarkwind ed45 1 month ago
Just a guess, but METV is probably currently showing season 2 episodes, so that's what they're highlighting. These articles are interesting, but they're also promotional.
Wiseguy dmarkwind 1 month ago
They haven't shown anything yet. It says right in the article: "Look for these things yourself when Happy Days premieres on MeTV this Monday, June 1."
robert ed45 1 month ago
yes, season one episodes were not very good actually. they can't show them. limited fonzie minutes for one thing.
jamiahsh 1 month ago
Wasn’t the Love American style episode entitled “Love and the Happy Days?”
Wiseguy jamiahsh 1 month ago
The original title was "Love and the Television Set" before anyone knew it would become a series. It was later retitled. Also before it was shown on Love, American Style it was a standalone pilot for a new series to be called "New Family in Town." And also, there was a pilot episode filmed before the one broadcast where the series was titled "The Happy Days" which featured still another actor playing Chuck.
Melfins 1 month ago
Agreed, the first 2 seasons were the best. It was funnier, better stories, more teenage hijinx. Once the live audience began the actors became full of themselves.
Melfins Melfins 1 month ago
Reminded me of Archie Comics.
JoeGuenther Melfins 1 month ago
After season 2 Marion was more of an airhead. Fonzie was used too much and especially in post Ron Howard episodes the audience wouldn't shut up. Too much cheering of the stars of the show. Sadly the best joke in the whole series is gone in syndication. Is Happy Days uncut on dvd?
RonStewart JoeGuenther 1 month ago
Remind me of what the best joke was, please.

I watched Happy Days in first run religiously for many seasons, but grew out of it - or it grew away from me. I tried a few years ago to watch early episodes (definitely the better episodes) on MeTV, but just couldn't get into it. Maybe in my late 50s, teenaged hijinks have lost their appeal.
Wiseguy JoeGuenther 1 month ago
Network (MeTV, etc.) and syndication (local stations) often show different versions of episodes, different parts cut out. DVDs should be uncut but I think Happy Days ran into some music rights issues including with the original theme "Rock around the Clock."
frenchman71 Melfins 1 month ago
I only own the first 2 seasons on video. You're right...after that the show was stupid, the live audience would cheer everything that was said and too many lame and unforgettable characters would be introduced.
frenchman71 JoeGuenther 1 month ago
Yes, it is. I own just the first 2 seasons on DVD so I assume all the seasons are available. Try amazon.com/movies & TV or deepdiscount.com. But as I posted earlier...after the 2nd season the show got terrible.
SalIanni 1 month ago
In the first episode, "All The Way", Arnold's Drive-In is named "Arthur's". No reason is given and nobody in the cast mentions it by name. In the second episode, the name is changed to Arnold's which stays for the remainder of the series. In the last couple of seasons, Arnold's is co-owned by Fonzie so, indirectly, it could be considered "Arthur's" again.
Wiseguy SalIanni 1 month ago
And there must have been a real "Arnold" who changed it from "Arthur's" because by the time the Arnold who was shown (real name Matsuo Takahashi) got the diner he just left the name as it was and inherited the "nickname."
Utzaake 1 month ago
8. Read the April 15, 1957 LIFE here: https://books.google.com/books?id=XEoEAAAAMBAJ&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false.
max 1 month ago
Seasons 1-3 were the best,(Arnold was still on).
NorthRidge max 8 days ago
Yes, I liked season 1-4 best. Actually, IMO, there were some episodes in season 3 that I liked better than in season 1.
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
Love the show when NOT in front of a studio audience.
As soon as every episode had "Dynamite like" catch phrase from Fonze the show forgot it's fifties roots. No wonder Chuck left without saying goodbye. Maybe he moved east and became Mike "My 3 Sons" Douglas neighbor. Maybe Chuck is stuck in the original Cunningham house but in an alternate reality as a tribute to Dark Shadows.
You hit the nail on the head.
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