Tough week for Baby Boomers with parental surrogates.
A few days after losing Beaver’s Mom we now lose Howard Cunningham, genial hardware store owner and patriarch on the long running series Happy Days. Although never the balanced disciplinarian that Ward Cleaver was, “Mr. C.” had a heart of gold even if his son Richie and that strange guy who lived over the garage tried his patience on a regular basis.
These were television teenagers, after all – I’m still not certain what Richie accomplished to get that letter on his school sweater, and even a half-assed greaser would have kicked Fonzie‘s ass all over the parking lot at Arnold‘s. (And were Potsie and Ralph Malph not nerdy enough as characters that they needed those “please kick my ass” names?)
But Tom Bosley, who passed away today at 83, had that sitcom Dad vibe down just right. Sure, his wife picked on him a lot but he loved her anyway. His kids were annoying but he stood behind them. He saw the good side in people even if they weren’t very adept with showing it themselves. And in what was a far simpler time on television, he was that guy that people took for granted on the show, just as many of us do in real life.
Bosley was an accomplished actor – he won a Tony Award for the lead in Fiorello – and had many TV credits including another show (The Father Dowling Mysteries) and the recurring role as the sheriff on Murder She Wrote. Unfortunately many will remember him as a late night pitchman for…well, just about anything. Guess when you want to sell something it pays to get a guy people like and trust.
Mr. C., in a nutshell, in the final words in the last episode: “Well, what can I say? Both of our children are married now and they’re starting out to build lives of their own. And I guess when you reach a milestone like this you have to reflect back on, on what you’ve done and, and what you’ve accomplished. Marion and I have not climbed Mount Everest or written a great American novel. But we’ve had the joy of raising two wonderful kids, and watching them and their friends grow up into loving adults. And now, we’re gonna have the pleasure of watching them pass that love on to their children. And I guess no man or woman could ask for anything more. So thank you all for being, part of our family… To happy days.”
R.I.P., Tom Bosley.