Sad news for classic TV fans in Fresno and all over the world today. As reported by TMZ, PopEater and several other sources, Actor Tom Bosley, famous for his role as Howard Cunningham on the classic sitcom Happy Days, passed away today at his Palm Springs home at the age of 83.
Bosley had reportedly died of heart failure at 4 A.M. today, after a lengthy battle with staph infection.
Bosley was born in Chicago in 1927, the son of a real estate broker father and a concert pianist mother. As he told PEOPLE in a 1979 interview, “We were fairly wealthy until the stock market crashed. When I was 2, my father lost all his money.” He took a turn towards acting after serving in the Navy during World War II. He appeared in the stage production of Our Town and also appeared at the Woodstock Oprah House in Illinois, where he befriended Paul Newman.
Bosley would make several small screen appearances on other classic sitcoms, but it was in 1974 that he landed the role of Howard Cunningham on the fifties nostalgia comedy Happy Days, the role that would make him a household name. He shared the spotlight with his on-screen wife Marion Ross, Ron Howard as his on-screen son Ritchie Cunningham, and Erin Moran as his on-screen daughter Joanie. Happy Days ran for 11 seasons and continues to be syndicated today.
Bosley was also famous for playing Sheriff Amos Tupper in Murder She Wrote in 1984, and in the title role in Father Downing Mysteries from 1987 to 1991. He also played the title role in the Pulitzer Prize winning Fiorello!, for which he won a Tony Award.
As Ron Howard told PEOPLE, “Tom’s insight, talent, strength of character and comic timing made him a vital central figure in the Happy Days experience. A great father and husband, and a wonderful artist, Tom led by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already.”
Henry Winkler, famous for playing the show most popular character, Arthur, “The Fonz” Fonzarelli, told TMZ about his first experience seeing Bosley perform on Broadway, “And then I got to act with him for 10 years and he was great. 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.”
Scott Baio, who played Fonzi’s cousin Charles “Chachi” Arcola, added “He was a good man who taught me a lot about the business and business itself. He was a professional guy … I’m sad.”
Bosley also made some film appearances in addition to his main focus of theater and television. His final film appearance was in the 2010 Jennifer Lopez film The Backup Plan.
Bosley is survived by his second wife, Patricia Carr, and their daughter Amy. He will undoubtedly be missed by family, friends and fans all alike.