The dark side of ‘Happy Days’ revealed

It wasn’t all smiles and sunshine on the hit ’70s sitcom...
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The decades-long rift between Happy Days favourites Ron Howard and Henry Winkler is threatening to derail plans for a milestone celebration.

New Idea’s Hollywood insiders reveal Ron, 69, is planning a bonanza of a 70th birthday party for his adoring wife, Cheryl, later this year, but is likely not inviting his former Happy Days co-star.

The pair became huge stars in the ’70s thanks to their respective roles on Happy Days as Richie Cunningham and Arthur ‘Fonzie’ Fonzarelli. For the longest time they were entwined with each other’s families, but recently, tensions have risen, which is believed to be the reason for the birthday snubbing.

WATCH: Henry Winkler at the 70th Emmy Awards. Article continues after video.

Publicly, the pair still play the “best friends the world remembers them by”, says the source. Yet in reality, Henry has struggled to overcome comments made by Ron in 2021.

The former child star turned acclaimed director said he suffered on-set at the hands of studio heads, who were elated by the rising popularity of Fonzie, despite Richie being the lead character.

“Network heads [started] really treating me with a lot of disrespect from a business standpoint, just in terms of interaction,” Ron said of the tense dynamic.

“Network heads [started] really treating me with a lot of disrespect.” (Credit: Getty)

Ron added that the growing media attention around Henry and his iconic portrayal as high-school dropout Fonzie led to speculation he was unhappy.

“The press kept saying, ‘What’s it like? Do you feel that you’ve become a second-class citizen on your own show?’” he recalled.

Those close to the co-stars say the situation “is a real problem for everyone” including their myriad of mutual friends, but especially their children. Henry, 77, is godfather to all four of Ron’s kids.

“The Howard family really want to have a party for Cheryl, so everyone’s trying to get them to patch things up,” a source explains. “It wouldn’t be the same without Henry at that special family occasion.” 

In an 2019 interview for Inside the Actors Studio, Henry alleged that Ron told him his feelings “were hurt” but acknowledged the situation was “good for the show”.

Their friends hope they will patch things up. (Credit: Getty)

Despite the wholesome nature of the sitcom, set in suburban America in the 1950s, Ron and Henry’s feud was just the tip of the iceberg of behind-the- scenes dramas on the series. In fact, in the ensuing years it’s been revealed it had quite the dark side.

Marion Ross, who played the mother Marion Cunningham, confirmed in 2018 she didn’t always get along with Tom Bosley, who played her husband, Howard. Marion said he called her various offensive names backstage and belittled her around the program’s production crew. At times, he even swore at her!

She accepted his apology years later during a private event honouring the show’s enduring legacy.

Things weren’t all smooth sailing. (Credit: Getty)

With Happy Days catapulting its cast to superstardom, the affects of fame were harsh. Amid feuds and marriage breakdowns, the most tragic case was perhaps that of Erin Moran, who played the sweet-as-pie Joanie Cunningham.

Despite efforts from fellow child actors to help Erin deal with her issues, she turned to drugs and alcohol and made headlines for her partying when the show ended. She tragically died from cancer in 2017.

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