Lynda Goodfriend played both Richie's wife and Ralph's girlfriend on Happy Days
She actually played two different dates for Richie — and even more characters in the Happy Days universe.
Image: The Everett Collection
Was there a more apt name for an actress than Lynda Goodfriend, at least in relation to Happy Days? The bubbly brunette is best known as the love of Richie's life. She became Mrs. Cunningham in the episode "R.C. and L.B. Forever," a wedding episode oddly filmed after Ron Howard had left the sitcom. The writers had Richie stuck on an Army base. Fonzie stood in for the groom by proxy during the ceremony.
But were beginning with the end. Richie Cunningham and Lori Beth Allen had a long and charming courtship on Happy Days. Goodfriend's Lori Beth character made her debut early in season five, when Richie and Fonzie sneak into a girls' dormitory past curfew in "Hard Cover." Richie and Lori Beth struck up a fast relationship.
Perhaps that is no surprise. Richie had already quietly dated a different Lynda Goodfriend character.
Goodfriend first appeared on Happy Days a season earlier, in season four, B.S.J. (before shark jump). Her bob haircut is easy to spot in "Time Capsule." Richie has his arm around her — but she is playing "Kim."
"Kim" would return five episodes later, as Ralph's date in "Graduation." The dopey Malph memorably gave her massive a bird of paradise flower as a corsage — uncut, so its stem projected two feet down her torso. So, indeed, Lynda Goodfriend played the girlfriend of Ralph — and two of Richie's girlfriends.
Here's where it gets extra confusing. Goodfriend was portraying a different character in the Happy Days universe on television that very same month.
Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy were the smash spin-offs of Happy Days, but they were not the only spin-offs. Those successes overshadowed the flop Blansky's Beauties. Nancy Walker starred as Nancy Blansky, Howard Cunningham's cousin, first introduced in the Happy Days episode "The Third Anniversary Show." She was the housemother to a host of showgirls. Goodfriend was "Sunshine," one of these "Beauties." Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) was in the first episode.
However, oddly, this Happy Days spin-off was set in the present day, 1977. For added confusion, Scott Baio, not yet "Chachi," was on the show as a kid named Anthony DeLuca, the younger brother of Joey DeLuca, played by Eddie Mekka, who was concurrently playing Joey DeLuca's older identical cousin, Carmine Ragusa, albeit two decades in the past, on Laverne & Shirley. See? Confusing.
Garry Marshall liked to use the same actors. Which explains why the legendary creator essentially remade the same sitcom a year later, with much of the same cast, including Baio and Goodfriend, as Who's Watching the Kids? Had that sitcom clicked with viewers, Lori Beth likely would have never been developed on Happy Days. Richie would have to marry a different fiancée over the phone.