There's actually a good reason why Happy Days fans can't remember who came first: Al or Arnold

Getting your timeline straight on two of sitcom history's favorite diner owners is harder than you might think.

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When Happy Days fans feel nostalgic for their favorite Fifties-based sitcom, it's likely that scenes from Arnold's Diner come to mind.

Richie and Fonzie and the gang made it their No. 1 hangout, and through the course of the series, you'll likely remember the diner had two owners. One was named Arnold, as in Arnold's Diner, and portrayed by Pat Morita. The other was named Al Delvecchio, portrayed by Al Molinaro.

It's established on the show that ownership of the diner changed hands during the fourth season premiere in 1976, a three-part episode called "Fonzie Loves Pinky."

From this episode on, we know Big Al as the owner of Arnold's, so many people wrong attribute "Fonzie Loves Pinky" as the first time we saw Molinaro on the show.

In actuality, Big Al appears in the diner before Arnold ever does.

The first episode to feature Al Delvecchio came in the second season. It's called "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas," and it's the first Christmas-themed Happy Days episode. In it, we meet Big Al as a cook at Arnold's, not the owner. That's where the confusion lies, even for people who helped create Happy Days.

During an interview with the Television Academy, even Happy Days screenwriter Lowell Ganz couldn't keep his diner owners straight:

"Al had been there originally," Ganz said confidently. "Al was there first. Al was there before Pat."

But then he loses some confidence, asking the interviewer to confirm whether he remembered that right:

"Wasn't he?" Ganz asked. "Al left, and then Pat came in, and then Al came back. That's what it was. I think!"

Later in the interview, Ganz panicked, wondering if he got it wrong and actually Pat came first, and it was Pat who came back. He was convinced he was right, and the complicated truth is, he was right both times.

Here's a breakdown of the timeline:

Molinaro appears on the show before Morita, in 1974.

Pat Morita is then memorably introduced in a two-part 1975 episode called "Fearless Fonzarelli." In his first scene, he shoots Fonzie a disapproving look, shaking his head in what would become his trademark move.

Big Al, on the other hand, was known more for simply sighing at the antics of the Happy Days gang.

In 1976, Morita told the Television Academy that he had actually signed on for two or even three more seasons of Happy Days, fully planning to stick around as the diner owner Arnold.

"People ask me, 'Well, why did you leave Happy Days?'" Morita said. "I really didn't leave Happy Days."

He said when the ink was still fresh on his Happy Days contract, he remembered TV producer James Komack (Welcome Back, Kotter) and ABC executive Michael Eisner approached him.

"Pat we think you've got a great future with ABC," they said. "Would you like to have a show of your own?"

"Sure, I'd like that," Morita said, explaining that's what he always wanted for the pinnacle of his career.

But he had one question: "What're you talking about?"

What they were talking about became Mr. T. & Tina, the first series with Morita in the lead.

"So they convince me it would be a right move to make," Morita said. "And of course, it was totally exciting."

Unfortunately, the show ended up totally failing, airing only four episodes. That freed Morita up to return to appear on Happy Days in its 1982–83 season.

During that time, Molinaro continued appearing on the show, with his final appearance in the show's final season.

You can probably see now why the Happy Days screenwriter got lost tracing the characters on the show, and in fact, the first episode to show Al Delvecchio bothered the show writers so much that they actually updated the episode twice to try to keep things straight for fans catching the show in reruns.

So when "Guess Who's Coming to Christmas" aired as a rerun in 1975, it came with a new intro segment where the Fonz is telling Arnold the story of the episode, as if it is a flashback.

Then in 1976, when Morita was gone and Big Al was back, the Fonzie intro segment was reshot with Al instead of Pat, so Fonzie's still telling it as a flashback, but this time to Al.

Most commonly when this episode is aired today, fans see the version with Al. According to Marion Ross (Mrs. C), it's probably one of the few times we saw Al a little more scripted.

"Al Molinaro is another very funny, wonderful guy," Ross told the Television Academy. "The script would just say Al does his thing. And they'd just let him loose."

She said Morita was just as talented with his improvisations, and in his interview, Morita expressed regret over choosing Mr. T. & Tina over more time with Mr. & Mrs. C.

Molinaro appeared in more than 100 episodes of Happy Days and during the 1992 cast reunion, he revealed how much he cherished his time on the show, which he considered a significant piece of TV history.

"In the industry, they used to consider us like a bubble-gum show," Molinaro said. "But I think they overlooked one thing. To the public in America, Happy Days was an important show, and I think it was and I think it still is."

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JeffPaul76 16 hours ago
I agree with most of the people on here in that I don't like Happy Days with Fonzie as the main character, after Richie left which was a big mistake. Ron Howard never should have left the show. And, I don't like when they got rid of Chuck Cunningham.
Andivis 14 days ago
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JeffPaul76 Andivis 15 hours ago
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Mark091 14 days ago
There was a funny epilogue on
The Happy Days episode called
Fonzie The Salesman. There is no
Dialogue in this epilogue except
Background music of either Bobby
Darin or someone else singing
Splish Splash. The epilogue is about
Richie Potsie and Ralph carrying
Encyclopedias to a woman's apartment and shortly FONZIE shows
Up .This was a very funny epilogue.

Mark091 Mark091 14 days ago
Another funny epilogue on Happy Days was the episode
Tell It To The Marines
A girl comes out the restroom
Wearing glasses and a funny nose . Then Ralph Malph Donny Most shows up at Arnolds and
Puts the same thing on his face
And then Ralph and the girl start dancing . Olivia (Amy Irving)
Was in the epilogue and Olivia
Was happy that Ralph finally found a girl with Ralph's sense
Of humor
Mark091 14 days ago
I would like to see METV write an
Article on actor Ed Peck who played
Officer Kirk on Happy Days several times. In the Happy Days episode
AKA The Fonz Officer Kirk is surprised when Richie Potsie
Ralph and several towns people
And merchants came into Arnolds
Drive in wearing leather jackets
Just like FONZIE'S leather jacket
What was the name of the actor
Who played Officer EVANS in the
AKA the Fonz episode??!!
Mark091 21 days ago
The characters That mentioned
Below(Ralph Malph Roger Phillips
Jenny Piccalo ETC were all on
Happy Days.
Mark091 21 days ago
I hope that MeTv will decide to write
Articles on Practical Jokers
Ralph Malph Donny Most
Bag Zombroski Neil J Schwartz
And Bobby Melner Harris Kal
I would also like to see articles
On EUGENE BELVIN Denis Mandel
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
Moose Barry Greenberg
Roger Phillips Ted McGinley
Chuck Cunningham Gavan O Herlihy
Chuck Cunningham Randolph Roberts
And that wild Jenny Piccalo Cathy Silvers.

Mark091 Mark091 21 days ago
Also I heard that Cathy Silvers AKA Jenny Piccalo wants to
Have a Happy Days reboot series
Houts2000 27 days ago
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Mark091 1 month ago
The girl that MOOSE Barry Greenberg
Was dancing with was played by Carey Williams.
Carey Williams looks a lot like
Carol Williams who played MARALEE
On the 3rd season episode
FONZIE'S New Friend .THAT IS
THÉ EPISODE THAT INTRODUCED
STICKS DOWNEY JR played by
John Anthony Bailey.
Carey Williams and Carol Williams
Might be the same person or 2
Different persons.
It's too bad that Moose only
Appeared in 3 Episodes just like
CLARENCE the cook (Gary Friekon)
And it's too bad that Moose never
Got to talk on the show.
MOOSE Barry Greenberg might have
Been good friends on HAPPY DAYS
With Eugene Belvin Denis Mandel and
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein but
MOOSE EUGENE BELVIN and Melvin Belvin were not on Happy Days at the
Same time.
ncadams27 1 month ago
Many people expect TV characters to be fully developed characters just as if they were real. TV shows are notorious for character inconsistencies and errors in continuity. Just look at Chuck.
BuckeyeBeth 1 month ago
Marion Ross said Pat Morita was just as talented with his improvisations.

I can definitely see that because as I understand it Pat Morita started out in the business as a standup comedian. In fact just a few weeks ago YouTube suggested to me a 1965 stand-up that Pat did with a introduction by Tony Randall. If you want to watch it just be aware that there is a timing strip in the upper right hand corner of the video. Apparently this is a surviving editors/producers copy and unfortunately it does cover Pats face about half the time. It's still interesting to see Pat/Mr. Miyagi doing standup. 😆
KirwoodDerby 1 month ago
As I recall, Arnold (Morita) explains early on in the series that he was called Arnold simply because the sign out front said “Arnold’s”. Anyone else recall it that way?
Yes, in fact he even says to Richie "Signs very expensive, I not change the sign....you know how many letters in Takahashi??? (his real name in the show was Matsuo Takahashi)
Wiseguy 1 month ago
Why are they showing the version with the new intros now? They should just show the original episode as it was seen in 1974. There's no need to explain why Fonzie is not living with the Cunninghams or why Richie's brother is still there.
ncadams27 Wiseguy 1 month ago
I agree - I want to watch shows as they originally aired.
Mark091 ncadams27 1 month ago
On the Happy Days episode
Give The Band A Hand RICHIE Cunningham Ron Howard
Potsie Webber Anson Williams
Ralph Malph Donny Most and
Bag Zombroski Neil J Schwartz
Are playing an instrumental
Version of the Elvis Presley
Song All Shook Up.
TV Land TBS Nick at Nite and
WGN left out the scene where
Potsie did a vocal version of
All Shook UP BUT METV showed
Potsie singing that song
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I have never sent Fonzie recollect that episode.
Mark091 1 month ago
I have a question about the first
Season of Happy Days.
There was a heavyset kid with the
Name MOOSE played by
BARRY GREENBERG.
There was also a heavset guy with
The name BAG played by
NEIL J SCHWARTZ.
So my question is:
Who appeared on HAPPY DAYS
First -BAG or MOOSE?
Also there were 2 waitresses on
Happy Days-MARSHA and WENDY.
Did Wendy or Marsha appear on
Happy Days first??????????
Load previous comments
Mark091 harlow1313 1 month ago
I forgot to tell you that the
Epilogue on the Happy Days
Episode Guess who's coming to
Visit where MOOSE Barry Greenberg dances with the girl
Carey Williams at ARNOLDS
Drive in you can watch that
VIDEO on You Tube.
On You They they also have
Videos on Whatever Happened to Chuck Cunningham The Best
Of BAG season one the best of
Spike the best of CHACHI
Etc
Mark091 harlow1313 1 month ago
On the second episode of Happy Days season one Hardware Jungle Ralph Malph Donny Most
Fixed the salt shaker.of Moose Barry Greenberg so that.all.of
The salt came out of.the.shaker
Moose had the Last Laugh on Ralph though.
Mark091 MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
Thanks for letting me know
That MOOSE Barry Greenberg
Was on Happy Days a couple
Of eplsodes before BAG NEIL
J Schwartz and that Marsha
Beatrice Colen appeared on
Happy Days before WENDY
MISTY Rowe.
Does anyone know whether
Melvin Belvin Scott Bernstein
Or his brother EUGENE BELVIN Denis Mandel was on HAPPY DAYS first . I remember that
EUGENE BELVIN and Melvin Belvin appeared on Happy Days
In the 1980s at about the same
Time that ROGER PHILLIPS TED McGinley and JENNY PICCALO
Cathy Silvers arrived.
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
Barry Greenberg Moose on HAPPY DAYS played Alfred in
The 1973 remake of the 1947
Movie Miracle on 34th Street.
Tom Bosley and Sebastian Cabot
were also in this movie.
Corey 1 month ago
Al Molinaro played Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple directed by Garry Marshall.
LittleMissNoName Corey 1 month ago
Morita was also a guest star on The Odd Couple.
Kelley1 1 month ago
The Karate Kid was released 6/22/84. That date was about halfway through the Happy Days series run (give or take a season). Therefore Pat Morita/Mr. Miyagi was the first owner on Happy Days because he quit to play Mr. Miyagi. That's how I remember who came when. (Not to mention that one of the last episodes featured Pat Morita's character re-purchasing the drive in.)
Wiseguy Kelley1 1 month ago
The first known owner of the diner was "Arthur" who named the diner after himself (see "All the Way"). He then sold it to the "real" Arnold in early 1974 (our time), who changed the name to "Arnold's." Then the Pat Morita character bought it in 1975, who stated he didn't want to pay to change the sign so he kept the name and the patrons called him "Arnold" because of it. Then Al bought it in 1976; he also didn't change the name until a fire destroyed the diner and it had to be rebuilt.
JohnGibbons Kelley1 1 month ago
Actually the last episode was in September of 84. Halfway would be around 1979.
stephaniestavropoulos 1 month ago
They just aired Arnold's wedding last night.
I don't have troubling with remembering which came first: Al or Arnold. Al was/is in my fave episode: "Guess Who's Coming For Christmas." That mugging scene, never gets old! It's hysterical!
Andybandit 1 month ago
Interesting story. I always thought Arnold and Al were fun characters on Happy Days.
Mark091 Andybandit 1 month ago
Some other Fun Characters
On Happy Days were:
Roger Phillips
Bag Zombroski
Jenny Piccalo
Bobby Melner
Eugene Belvin
Melvin Belvin
Mickey Malph
Donld and Junior (Dave Ketchum
And Clint Howard)
Potsie Webber
Moose
Bruiser(Paul Linke)
Rebel (Reb Brown)
Tommy (Kevin Sullivan)
Spike Fonzarelli
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
Chuck Cunningham 2
Randolph Roberts was also a
Fun character.
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
Ralph Malph the Practical
Joker.of MILWAUKEE AND
Happy Days was also a
Fun character
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
The last appearance of
Chuck Cunningham Gavan O Herlihy is in the season one
Episode Give The Band A Hand
The last appearance of
CHUCK CUNNINGHAM 2
Randolph Roberts is the
Season 2 episode Guess who's coming to Christmas.
Mark091 Mark091 1 month ago
Richie and Fonzie Ron Howard
And Henry Winkler were also
Fun characters.
Mark091 Mark091 22 days ago
Viewers on Happy Days always
Say that Chuck Cunningham
Was the only character who
Dissapeared with no explanation. But CHUCK CUNNINGHAM is NOT the
Only character to vanish into
Thin air on Happy Days.
At least 10 other characters
Dissapeared from Happy Days
Besides Chuck Cunningham.
Can anyone name some or all
Of the other characters who
VANISHED from Happy Days?
Also Viewers of Happy Days
Say that Chuck didn't have much to do on Happy Days
Besides bouncing a basketball
And eating sandwiches and
Joanie's Willow Soup
There was one character on
Happy Days who had less
Air time than Chuck did .
Does anyone know the name
Of this character and the
Person who played this character?
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