Tom Bosley: 1927-2010 – R. I. P., MR. C.

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And now we say goodbye to one of TV’s great icons – and coolest dads – Tom Bosley, who passed away yesterday at age 83 at his home in Palm Springs, California. Bosley starred in film, TV, and movies and actually got his first big break on Broadway playing the mayor of New York City. (Theatergoers: did you know he’d won a Tony?) But it was his unforgettable role as Howard Cunningham, affectionately known as Mr. C. on the long-running sitcom Happy Days that skyrocketed Bosley to fame. This was the show that a) got one generation entirely revved up about another generation (the 50s and early 60s), that was also b) what Ron Howard did after playing Opie and before he became one of Hollywood’s most successful directors,  and c) the one that made stars of Henry Winkler and Scott Baio, among others. It permanently established  Bosley as the voice of balanced and calm – if harassed – reason alongside his TV wife Marian Ross, creating a character  from which he would rarely deviate in later years.  He  went on to star in any number of other projects, including lots of  Love Boats and Murder, She Wrote, as well as playing the titular character in the Father Dowling Mysteries which arrived on the small screen in 1987. But Happy Days was the one that so many of us will remember most and best ( I certainly do). The show began in 1974,  ran for eleven seasons and became a TV touchstone of sorts, showing everyone a time when life somehow seemed simpler. Or at least less edgy, more clean-cut and a bit more formal. Henry Winkler’s character of Fonzie ushered in a whole new era of posturing and cool, which of course we’re still seeing  manifested to this day. But Bosley was always rock solid as Richie and Joanie’s dad, whose wisdom invariably prevailed and who remains one of TV’s most memorable patriarchs.  Meanwhile, another beloved iconic TV parent has passed away; 53 years ago Barbara Billingsley originated the ultimate 1950’s mom role of June Cleaver on the popular series Leave It To Beaver, a character that left every other mother in America scrambling to emulate the cheery, good-natured matriarch. Billingsley left us Saturday at age 94, after a long career in both TV and film.  Both stars leave behind a legion of fans and quite an incredible TV legacy between them; we wish them a fond farewell.

Today’s poll: Happy Days spawned three other TV shows. Voice your choice in today’s featured poll and tell us which of these shows is your favorite:

1)    Happy Days

2) Joanie Loves Chachi

3) Laverne & Shirley

4) Mork & Mindy

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