Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Long, Mr. C

The exasperated spouse or parent has been a staple in American family sitcoms since they were recording the programs on kinescopes. That remained constant for decades; what would change was the source of the exasperation---another spouse, a child, a neighbor, etc.

Tom Bosley was among the best at being exasperated, and Lord knows he had plenty of sources with which to deal.

Bosley, 83, passed away today at his home in Palm Springs, CA, his family said. Reports say he died of heart failure, and that he was also battling lung cancer. A recent staph infection didn't help, either.

Bosley was Howard Cunningham, father of Richie and Joanie and husband to Marion on the ABC hit "Happy Days," which ran from 1974-84.

There was no shortage to the annoyances Howard Cunningham had to put up with.

There were his kids, who although well-behaved for the most part, were also rather impressionable and prone to getting caught up in the schemes of their friends.

Ah, those friends---Ralph Malph, Potsie Weber, and once Joanie started dating, Chachi Arcola.

And the biggest one of them all---Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli.

If it wasn't for his sweet, empathetic wife Marion to calm him and put him in his place, poor Howard might have ended up in one of those rooms with the rubber walls.

The show took place in Milwaukee; Bosley was from Chicago, about two hours south---so the midwestern accent he had worked perfectly for the show's setting.



Bosley was a mostly unheralded character, making the rounds in late-1960s and early-'70s sitcoms and dramas, his mug popping up here and there. Then he got that mother lode of breaks that every character actor dreams of.

Bosley was cast as Howard Cunningham in 1974, as ABC's Garry Marshall decided to make a TV series based loosely on the cult movie favorite "American Graffiti."

Bosley, along with Henry Winkler (Fonzie) and Marion Ross (Marion), were the only three of the troupe who appeared in all 255 episodes.

Bosley was a salmon swimming upstream after "Happy Days," refusing to be typecast. His doggedness paid off; he landed the role of Sheriff Tupper in "Murder, She Wrote" (1984-88) and Father Dowling in "Father Dowling Mysteries" (1987-91).

Bosley was a man with a wide, ruddy face, dancing eyes, and the shape of a bag of flour. His popularity was either helped or hindered by the fact that many folks mistook him for David Doyle, who played a character named Bosley on "Charlie's Angels."

Former co-star Winkler told TMZ that he was "blown away" the first time he saw Bosley perform, on Broadway.

"And then I got to act with him for 10 years and he was great," Winkler said. "Tom Bosley was our mentor. He was a true artist ... a great husband, and a fabulous father and grandfather. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten."

Bosley last appeared in the 2010 comedy "The Back-up Plan" with Jennifer Lopez.

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