Happy Days TV Series

One of the more vivid memories that I have from my childhood is of a time when my Mom called to me "Happy Days is on". Instantly I dropped what I was doing and scrambled to find my Fonzie Mego doll, then rushed to sit in front of the TV. How excited I was that my favourite TV show was once again playing! I was only three years old, and I absolutely loved Happy Days.

The original Fonz doll made by Mego in 1976.

Before I was aware of superheroes such as Superman, Batman and Robin, Spider-Man or Hulk, "The Fonz" became the first hero that I idolized. He had special powers, such as snapping his fingers to attract a flock of girls, tapping the jukebox to turn it on or off, hitting the wall to turn out the lights, and an ultra-cool persona that made him a living legend to all who knew him.

The two main characters from Happy Days: The Fonz and Richie Cunningham

The Cunningham Family: Howard and Marion Cunningham aka. "Mr. and Ms. C", Richie and Joanie

The Happy Days Gang: Ralph Malph, Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, Potsie Webber, and Richie Cunningham

In 2009 I had the remarkable opportunity to meet Henry Winkler, the actor who portrayed the Fonz. It took place here in Ottawa at Centerpoint Theatre. I was so awestruck and nervous that I couldn't speak. It was like meeting the Lone Ranger. When I got to shake Mr. Winkler's hand I felt like I was three years old again! Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that I'd get to meet the Fonz, yet it happened! After a moment I managed to say "Hello", and that was it, he was off shaking hands with other fans. I had met my childhood hero!
Star Wars... happened because of Happy Days!
May the Fonz be with You Actually it wasn't the Fonz who had the Force, it was Ritchie Cunningham... who became Steve Bolander...and then changed back to Richie. I'm referring of course to actor Ron Howard. His involvement in 1971 for the TV pilot that eventually became Happy Days (the pilot before the pilot, if you will) led to his role in the 50's themed film American Graffiti, released in 1973. The success of that film led back to the Happy Days pilot being picked up by NBC that same year. Therefore in 1973 Season 1 of the Happy Days TV series was produced and subsequently broadcast in January 1974.
The movie poster for American Graffiti, 1973.
According to Wikipedia, Ron Howard's work in the 1971 TV pilot as Richie Cunningham had been shown to a young, unknown film director named George Lucas who then cast Howard in the role of Steve Bolander for American Graffiti. The success of American Graffiti made George Lucas a multi-millionaire which allowed him to pursue the creation of the most significant Science Fiction film in the history of cinema. Star Wars was released in May 1977, one month after Season 4 of Happy Days had concluded to become the number 1 show in TV ratings. Its odd to think that Star Wars was in a way (financially, at least) a result of that first Happy Days pilot. Thank you Ron Howard!!!
Ron Howard and co-star Cindy Williams as seen in the 1973 film American Graffiti. A few years later, in 1975, Williams would re-join Howard on the TV show Happy Days, filling the role of Shirley Feeney. In 1976 Cindy Williams moved on to her own TV show, Laverne and Shirley, which became the most successful spin-off from Happy Days.
Fonzie of Flatbush
While Season 1 of Happy Days was being broadcast in 1974 (having been recorded in 1973), and shortly before Fonzie hysteria would take over North America, a then relatively unknown actor named Henry Winkler appeared as the leather jacket wearing street teenager in the 1974 film Lords of Flatbush. His co-star in the film was Sylvester Stallone, himself soon to become famous as Rocky Balboa in the 1976 film Rocky. Considering Henry Winkler's wardrobe for the Fonz in Season 1 of Happy Days included a white cotton coat, The Lords of Flatbush is perhaps the first time audiences saw "The Fonz" donning a leather jacket.
The Lords of Flatbush: Paul Mace, Sylvester Stallone, Henry Winkler, and Perry King.
Happy Days Season 1, 1974
When Happy Days first began it was very different from what it would later develop into. For starters they didn't film the show in front of a studio audience, and the set for the interior of the Cunningham's house had a much different layout. The popular 50's song "Rock Around the Clock" was used as the shows opening theme song rather than the familiar "Happy Days" theme song that was created later on especially for the show. More importantly, Happy Days was not planned with the Fonz as the star character. At this point the focus was on Richie and his friends, Ralph and Potsie. When the Fonz does show up it's for a minor role and he's wearing a white cotton jacket!
Season 2, 1974 - 1975
An episode featuring the original cast from The Howdy Doody show (an actual children's TV show that had been produced throughout the 1950's) did exceptionally well in the TV ratings. This was a turning point for Happy Days as viewership increased dramatically. A second critical event happened during Season 2 when the Fonz is upgraded from a minor supporting role to a regular character, and the white cotton jacket is gradually replaced by Fonzie's iconic leather jacket. The white jacket is never spoken of again! But perhaps the most important change came toward the end of the season, as one of the episodes was recorded in front of a studio audience for the first time to test out the new format. At this point the set for the interior of the Cunningham's home was rearranged to what will become it's permanent layout. The result was electrifying with the cast playing off of the audience's energy, and the audience laughing along live in studio. The show's producers had discovered their magic formula for Happy Days! Cool-a-mundo!!!
Buffalo Bob Smith and one of the original Howdy Doody puppets in scenes from Happy Days. The top photo shows Richie dressed up like Howdy Doody. This episode lead to a revival of the Howdy Doody Show in the 1976 called The New Howdy Doody Show. The show's original host Buffalo Bob Smith reprised his iconic role and the rebooted program lasted a full year until 1977.
During season 2, in 1974, Happy Days merchandise began to be produced for the first time. Among the earliest items available were a series of soft cover Happy Days books published by Grosset & Dunlap. The books were based on actual episodes of the TV series that featured Fonzie. The collection continued until at least 1976. Shown here, L to R, is book No. 2 and 3 from 1974, and No. 6 from 1976.
Season 3, 1975 - 1976
From this point on Happy Days is filmed before a studio audience. The Fonz is now a main character as Fonzie hysteria quickly gains momentum. The first episode of the season "Fonzie Moves In" inducts the Fonz into the Cunningham family, and the rest is TV history.
Season three also introduces the characters Laverne & Shirley who make several guest appearances.

Season 4, 1976 - 1977
During Season 4, Happy Days hits number 1 in the ratings making 1976 a very big year for the show.
Al Delvecchio is introduced as a new member of the cast becoming a regular on the show for the rest of its run. Al is the owner of Arnold's Restaurant where the gang always hung out. He was always one of my favourite characters and was very funny. I always wished that Mego had made a doll of Al to go with their Fonzie doll. In 2004 when the Mego Happy Days dolls were re-issued, Al was added to the series along with other characters that weren't originally made by Mego. Unfortunately these new dolls were very poorly made and the head sculpting for Al was the worse one in the series. It was awful! The doll didn't look a thing like Al so I didn't bother with it, or any of the others with exception of the reissued Fonzie doll which was also very cheaply made.
The same episode that introduced Al also introduced Pinky Tuscadero as Fonzie's main love interest. This was a three part story.
Season four of Happy Days aired along with a new Happy Days spin off: Laverne and Shirley. The Fonz and the Cunninghams make guest appearances on the new show which successfully runs for eight seasons. The Laverne and Shirley TV show introduces two new characters Lenny and Squiggy.
Merchandise released during Season 4
As Fonzie mania grew so did the demand for Happy Days memorabilia. During season 4, in 1976, the very first doll to be marketed based on the Fonz was made by Mego, manufactured in Hong Kong, and sold in a solid box with a flap on one side (shown above). Later the Fonzie doll was repackaged and sold on a card. In Canada the Fonzie doll was distributed by "Grand Industries Limited, Montreal Canada". This Fonz doll proved to be an extremely popular toy and I was very lucky to have one!
The Mego Fonzie doll was originally sold with the hair painted brown but this was later changed to black hair.

The doll also had a thumbs up action lever on the back which required the jacket to be made with a small slit in the back.

As the Fonz doll sold so well, Mego quickly produced three more Happy Days dolls: Ritchie, Potsie (misspelled "Potsy" on the card) and Ralph Malph. These were also introduced in 1976 along with Fonzie's motorcycle, Fonzie's Jalopy (this was actually the car Ralph drove during the first few seasons of the TV series), and a garage playset. The new dolls didn't sell as well as the Fonzie doll so the series was never expanded beyond this. It is odd that Mego didn't bother with dolls based on Al, Mork and Chachi, as the latter two characters were introduced the following year in Season 5 and instantly became very popular with Happy Days fans.
Here are the 9 inch Mork and Mindy dolls that Mattel produced in 1980 next to the 8 inch Happy Days dolls by Mego from 1976 (I'm still missing Ralph from the Mego set).
This "The Fonz" pin back button is dated 1976. It's 2 and 1/4 inches wide.

Here's the Happy Days board game produced by Parker Bros. in 1976, made in USA. Below is what the game board looks like.

Here are some of the Happy Days collectors cards that were made by O-Pee-Chee in 1976. These were printed in Canada. The back of the cards are pieces to a puzzle, shown below. I think there might be more than one puzzle going on here?

This is the plastic Happy Days lunchbox that was made by Canadian Thermos Producers Limited in Scarborough, Ontario. The copyright date on the picture is 1976. Usually these lunchboxes are missing the thermos so I was quite surprised to find this set was complete. I use my Happy Days lunch box to store my duplicate Happy Days Mego dolls in. I have about five or six Fonzies in various condition! :)

The Happy Days record "Fonzie Favorites" was produced in 1976. The album cover is unique as the front shows a photo of the Fonz without any titles or text, and the back cover, shown below, has a picture stand pre-cut for display.

This is the back cover with the flap closed.

I've noticed that at least four different editions of the "Fonzie Favourites" record were produced with slight differences on the album covers. The one shown above was made in Buffalo, New York (USA) by Ahed Music Inc., while the one shown below was made by Precision Records in Toronto, Ontario (Canada). The new York album has additional track info on the back cover (three lines of text per song), while the Toronto album shows only two lines of text per song. There is also an edition that was released in North America by K-Tel. The fourth edition that I know of is the United Kingdom version. A single of "The Fonz Song" from this album was also available in North America. The single has a cartoon-like illustration on the album cover, which I assume was just a paper sleeve.

The back cover of the New York album also has additional letters in the top corner, "(RJ)", and some text and the price $5.99 printed on the bottom corner, while the Toronto album does not.

However, both versions (USA and Canada) have the same label on the record itself.
Season 5, 1977 - 1978
Season five was notable for many reasons. Perhaps the most important thing that happed was the episode with Mork from Ork which introduced Robin Williams and led to another spin off TV series, Mork & Mindy, which ran for four seasons.
Mork from Ork, Richie and the Fonz in a scene from Season 5.
Season five also introduces Fonzie's cousin Chachi Arcola played by Scott Baio...
This is also the season that included the popular "jump the shark" episode in which the Fonz jumps a shark while on jet-skis and wearing his leather jacket....
Happy Days never "Jumped the Shark"
Season 5 of Happy Days (1977-78), began with a three episode story that involved Fonzie's dare-devil stunt of jumping over a shark while water skiing. In the mid to late 1990s, before the internet and cell phones dominated our culture, the term "Jump the Shark" developed socially as a catch phrase in reference to TV shows that had past their prime, and therefore should have gone off the air rather than continue being produced. The catchphrase incorrectly implies that Happy Days was such a series.

In reality however, during Season 4 Happy Days was the number 1 show in TV ratings. In Season 5, when the "shark" episode aired, Happy Days was the No 2 show, and number 3 in Season 6. It wasn't until Season seven that the show fell to number 17, but was still in the top 30. In fact, only the second and final Season of Happy Days, Season 2 and 11, were not in the top 30, meaning that Happy Days lasted essentially a full decade in the top 30 ratings. So if we actually check the facts and not just make things up, or make assumptions, it becomes quite clear that Happy Days never "Jumped the Shark".

(To clarify what ratings are, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nielsen_ratings )

Unfortunately, and quite frankly, there are too many unintelligent, insensitive people in the world who don't care about being unfair towards others, or diminishing something based on a foolish rumor. Some people just like to tear things down because it's all they know how to do.

It's also quite sad that people have forgotten that Happy Days is and always was a comedy series, and as such the silly concept of jumping a shark while wearing a leather jacket is quite fitting. Compared to other television shows of the mid to late 1970's this episode was certainly not out of place, and was in fact a lot less cringe worthy than many, many other shows of that era.

I would also argue that Happy Days is far better television than the voyeuristic, exploitive, and dumb-down reality TV shows that people are so fond of these days. Duck Dynasty? Honey Boo Boo? Kardashians? Storage Wars? They all jumped the shark in their first episode. (Or just by their inception!) So what does this say about the standards of TV today compared to the more demanding environment of a 1970s sitcom? It leads to only one conclusion: Happy Days was one awesome, funny and hugely successful TV show! And if you still don't believe me...Sit On It!
Chachi, Chachi, Chachi

During the late 1970's Scott Baio became a hugely popular teen sensation. He was quite young when he joined the cast of Happy Days and essentially grew up, from teenager to adult, on televison. As a kid I always had a crush on Scott Baio, but had come to realise that because I was a boy I had to keep my crush a secret. Boys weren't allowed to like boys back then, they were only allowed to like girls, which always seemed unfair to me. My sister was allowed to express her feelings about Scott Baio but I wasn't. It was the first time that I was confronted with this dilemma, which was quite confusing...and frightening. Thankfully times have changed, and I figure if Anderson Cooper can tell the world that he had a crush on Scott Baio, then so can I. Scott Baio, you're a cutie! :)

Scott Baio: Thank you for existing :)
From Season 5 onward, not only did I like Happy Days because Fonzie was so cool and the gang made me laugh, I also watched to see what that cute guy, Chachi, was up to. I was glad that he eventually became a main character on the show, rather than just having the occasional walk on scene. Below are several different images of Scott Baio from the opening titles of Happy Days over the years. I found all of the pictures online and just put them in order... honest I did! :)

More pictures of Chachi!
All of these pictures of Scott Baio were found online...FREE! We live in a utopia!

Joanie and Chachi as they appeared on season 9 (1981-82) of Happy Days.
Scott Baio: Early 1980's hottie.

Scott Baio: Mid to late 1970's hottie without a shirt!
Scott Baio with wet hair wearing a Speedo and towel... in front of a film crew!!!
Is this footage available on DVD?????
Scott Baio: 70's hair and a different Speedo. Yay!!! :)
Scott Baio: 70's hair, yet another Speedo, waving and smiling.
He must have had quite the collection of Speedos!!!
It seems that Scott Baio didn't like wearing a shirt back then.
I'm okay with that.
Scott Baio: 70's Teen Idol
Scott Baio wearing very tight, does-not-hide-much, Disco pants!
It's Scott Baio as a cowboy: Brokeback Chachi! Yay!!

Scott Baio as Chachi in a press photo. I found this huge digital picture online.

In the early 1980's Chachi went through a denim phase which, in my humble opinion, was a very good decision on his part. (Is it hot in here or is it just me?) The red banana on his leg was an attempt by the producers of Happy Days to start a new fashion trend. It didn't really catch on, but it looks good on Chachi! I wonder if Scott Baio or the producers realize what the bandana symbolised to the gay community of that era? Apparently Chachi is a "bottom" because he wears his bandana on the right side of his body, and he likes "fisting" because the bandana is red. Wow and Yikes! According to handkerchief code Joanie and Chachi were into some pretty kinky stuff! For those who are curious about handkerchief code, here is the Wikipedia page on the subject: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Handkerchief_code

This is a cool picture of Scott Baio from the Battle of the Network Stars.
It's one of my favourite photos of Scott. I like his long 70's hair and tank top.

Here is another huge digital photo of Scott Baio. Can't have too many of those! :)

Grease is the Word
Its worth noting that the final episode for Season 5 of Happy Days was broadcast May 30, 1978. Roughly two weeks later, on June 16, 1978 the musical film Grease was released in theatres. This 50s themed movie was a major success, as was its soundtrack.
The original movie poster for Grease, 1978.
The film starred John Travolta, who by then was already famous as a result of his film Saturday Night Fever, 1977, and the TV series Welcome Back Kotter, 1975-79. The success of both Happy Days and Grease at this point in time proved that although the trend of 50's themed entertainment had been around since the early 1970s, audiences were still very much interested in exploring the music and style that made the 50s so distinct.
Season 6
Season 6 of Happy Days became available on DVD December 2, 2014! Hopefully Seasons 7 and 8 will be released soon too! If I get at least that much on DVD I'll be quite happy, but the entire series would be awesome to own. The show continued for an impressive 11 Seasons!

The Fonz gets Animated

Fonz and the Happy Days Gang
In the early 1980's during season 8 and 9 of Happy Days an new Saturday morning cartoon series "Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" was broadcast. Fonz, Richie and Ralph appeared as animated characters voiced by the original actors from Happy Days. Two new characters included Fonzie's anamorphic dog named Mr. Cool, which provided the comedy relief, and a female alien named Cupcake (which was Fonzie's nick-name for Joanie on Happy Days). Cupcake, voiced by Didi Conn who had played Frenchy in the 1978 movie Grease, had her own time traveling space ship that took the gang on adventures as they tried to get back to 1957 Milwaukee. It was a very bizarre premise for the Happy Days characters, but for a Saturday morning cartoon series it somehow made perfect sense.

Here is the first episode on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kV1BaIKpae8
Here's the Wikipedia page about the animated series: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fonz_and_the_Happy_Days_Gang

This is a page from a photo album with some "Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" puffy stickers. I bought this "as is" on e-bay in the late 1990s or early 2000s. As far as I know there wasn't very much merchandise generated from the animated series, so I thought these would be neat to own. These were made sometime in the early 1980s while the animated series was still being produced.

Chopper TV Commercial
Prior to the debut of "Fonz and the Happy Days Gang" a public service announcement about oral hygiene in the form of an animated TV commercial featured a parody of the Fonz as the main character, Chopper. This could also be considered as a parody of the Danny character from Grease, played by John Travolta, as both Happy Days and Grease were extremely popular in the late 1970's when, I'm assuming, this commercial was produced. Therefore both productions likely influenced the creation of this animation evenly, however the way Chopper's speaks and his voice both sound more like the Fonzie character. Credits at the end of the ad read "Another Nutritional Message from the A.B.C. Television Network." This cartoon was randomly broadcast between Saturday morning cartoons shows until at least the mid 1980's.

Chopper spoke in time to music about the importance of exercising your choppers (your teeth) by eating hard foods. Three gang members who clearly consider Chopper as their leader assist him as backup singers. The best part of the commercial is at the end when Chopper's goons ask him to run a few laps with them and he replays "Later man, I'm eating a celery stick. This is hard exercise." This is a very well done and impressive animation even by today's standards, as it was produced using full animation in which the entire character is re-drawn for each frame of animation, rather than limited animation in which a character is broken down like a puzzle so that only certain sections of a figure are animated. Fonz and the Happy Days Gang used a combination of both techniques.

Here is a YouTube video showing the commercial. Unfortunately there's some additional footage at the end that needs to be edited, as the whole commercial repeats without sound, but at least it's available for viewing! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mVG1OAz2t_c

The song for this ad is quite a catchy tune. Here are the lyrics:
They're doing push ups in Peoria
They're jogging in L.A.
They're exercising everything
In lots of crazy ways
But take it from the Chopper
Hey, the Chopper ya, that's me!
If ya wanna have great choppers
Exercise your teeth
Exercise those choppers
Really chew, chew, chew
Exercise your choppers
 with some good hard food

Your molars grind
Your canines tear
Incisors bite right through
So exercise those choppers
on some good hard food
Pumpernickel, carrot sticks,
crunchy fruits and nuts
Things you really have to chew
Will make your choppers tough
So take it from the Chopper
'cause choppers know it's true
Exercise is great
but exercise your choppers too
Hey Chopper, how 'bout runnin' a few laps with us?
Later man, I'm eating a celery stick. This is hard exercise.
Weezer Music Video
In 1995 the band Weezer released their music video for the song Buddy Holly which made use of footage from several episodes of Happy Days. The footage was mixed with new footage shot on a special set that re-created Arnold's restaurant. Actor Al Molinaro reprised his role of Al Dalvecchio to guest star in the video with Weezer. Footage was expertly matched to the new material to make it seem as though Fonzie, Ritchie, Joanie, Ralph, Potsie, and Mr. and Ms. C were all milling about at Arnold's and reacting as the band played on stage. Here's the video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kemivUKb4f4
 More Happy Days Collectables
Although I don't actively seek out Happy Days memorabilia (with exception to the Mego dolls), sometimes I'll come across a Happy Days item and can't past it up. My small collection of Happy Days stuff consists mostly of more recent items made in the 1990s and onward, shown below. Any items that I have from the 1970s were shown above in the sections for Season 4 (1976) and Season 2 (1974).
Although the show was still in heavy circulation on TV in re-runs, interest in the Fonz and Happy Days products died out in the mid 1980s. After a long absence of about ten to twelve years, Happy Days memorabilia caught on again for a brief period in the mid to late 1990s. This tin wall hanging is dated 1998 and measures 12 inches wide by 16 inches tall.

Duo Cards produced a new series of Happy Days collector cards in 1998. I recall they were quite pricey but I was curious to see what they were like, so I bought one pack. It ended up that four of the seven cards in the pack featured Scott Baio as Chachi, with two of them being doubles. No complaints here. :)

This Fonz sticker is 4 and 1/4 inches tall by 3 and 1/4 inches wide. It seems to be a bootleg item as there isn't any copyright information on it and no date. I bought this in the late 1990s or early 2000s and recall it was only $1 or $2, but can't remember where I bought it. Below is a pin back button with the same image. It also has no copyright info and was likely made by the same people who made the sticker. The button is 1 and 1/4 inches wide. I bought it at a different location than the sticker.
I found this Happy Days wall clock on sale. It was made in the late 1990's and is rather cheaply made... just a generic plastic clock shape with a Happy Days picture slapped on. This could have been a very awesome Happy Days item had the image been designed to mimic the Happy Days opening titles with a record as the border, instead of the baby blue and pink design shown here. The packaging is also quite hum-drum.
Here is the Fonz push puppet made in 2003, shown next to the 8 inch Fonz doll for size comparison. The box calls this a "3D Animator Action Puppet". Three characters were made in this series: Fonz, Al and Richie. I believe this was the first time a toy figure was made based on Al.

Here's the front and back view of the box. Below is a closer view of the Fonz.

In 2004 the 8 inch Mego Fonzie doll was reissued by Classic TV Toys (a division of Figures Toy Company). It's awesome and amazing that this doll was reissued, unfortunately though, it's very cheaply made and quite inferior to the original Mego doll from 1976.
This is the 8 inch Chachi doll that was produced in 2004 or 2005 by Classic TV Toys in the same series as the above Fonz doll. This photo was found online. I don't have one of these dolls yet but would like to get one someday. It's not a very good likeness of Scott Baio but as it's the only doll of him that was ever made, it will have to do!
Also in 2004, Happy Days fans were very happy to see Season 1 released for the first time on DVD! Unfortunately fans had a long wait, until 2007, to get Season 2!
By the mid 2000s Happy Days resurgence in popularity was due mainly to the "Jump the Shark" catchphrase, and perhaps the 1995 Weezer video for the song "Buddy Holly". Although re-runs of Happy Days were no longer on TV (at least not that I know of), the shows popularity had become mainstream enough to warrant production of a 2006 calendar.
Here's a better view of Scott Baio as Chachi from the cover.
"Wa Wa Wa!"

Here is the back cover of the calendar showing all the different images for each month.

I like that they used a photo of Fonz with his scarf for December.

Chachi was February. It was February for quite a while that year.
In 2007 Season 2 and Season 3 of Happy Days finally arrived on DVD, more than two years after the release of Season 1.

In 2008, Season 4 was released on DVD. It would be quite awhile before Season 5 would be released. For some time, it seemed that the chance of a Season 5 DVD set happening at all was very remote. I even e-mailed Paramount at some point in 2009 or 2010 to ask if  Season 5 would be available soon, and was told that there were no plans to release it. Are they nuts-o!

At long last in 2014, an astounding and quite illogical ten years after Season 1 was released, and six years after Season 4, we finally have Season 5 of Happy Days available on DVD!!! Season 6 was quickly announced as coming Dec 2, 2014!!! Thumbs up to that!
Photo coming soon! 
And here is Season 6 which is perhaps the most important Season of Happy Days, as for the season opening two episode story the gang heads to Hollywood where Fonzie jumps the shark, and into television history!

Also in 2014, Happy Days fans were treated to the complete series, Season 1 and 2, of Joanie Loves Chachi on DVD. Cool-a-mundo!!!
Here is the back cover of the Joanie Loves Chachi DVD. It shows a scene from an episode in which Chachi is wearing white overalls without a shirt. Below is a closer view... because this is a very important topic. :)
Here is a look inside the Joanie Loves Chachi DVD case. Another picture of Scott Baio...I mean Chachi...without a shirt. Below is a closer view so that you don't have to squint. :)


On the topic of Joanie Loves Chachi here is a photo that I found online showing the Chachi Halloween costume made in 1982. In addition to making me laugh, this item confuses me. I mean, was the state of our society in the early 80's such that pretending to be Chachi was a cool thing for a kid to do? If so why don't I remember that? Did I miss out on my opportunity to be Chachi?! Was it normal for parents to expect their sons to ask for a Chachi costume? What wonderful blissful ignorance! Did boys actually walk around at school in this costume and receive looks of envy from other boys? Was this fascination with Chachi to the point that some shrewd business people realized that producing a Chachi costume for boys to wear would be "a lucrative investment"? Or, if this costume was intended for girls, was it to wear... or to hang in their room and pretend Chachi was there? Chachi with no eyes. Confusing isn't it. I want one.

More recently, sometime between 2010 and 2015, Westland produced this ceramic Salt and Pepper set of Joanie and Chachi. I found this photo online. This is a nice collectable set, but they painted Chachi's hair brown instead of black. Epic failure!

Here is Chachi...I mean Scott Baio... once again without his shirt. His similarly shirtless friend is Willie Aames. They did many projects together including the film Zapped and the TV series Charles in Charge.

Here is an image of the VHS home video of Zapped that I found online. I once rented this movie from the video store and recall that it was pretty stupid, but I think that was the intention.
The Fonz and Batman
 Original Mego 8 inch dolls of Richie, the Fonz, Batman and Robin with the Mego Batcycle.
I've always thought of the Fonz as being similar to Batman, here's why:
  • Regardless of his tough-guy appearance he's just as human as anyone else.
  • He's a rebel with a dark side, yet he'll fight on the side of good to defend his nerdy friends.
  • The Fonz is an orphan who made his own way without parents, just like Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne.
  • He has a cool set of wheels to ride, a garage as his Batcave, and in place of Alfred the Butler he has the Cunningham's to look after his home.
  • Batman hung out with Robin the Boy Wonder as his side kick and taught him how to be a hero, while the Fonz had Richie, and later Chachi, under his apprenticeship as they learned from him how to be cool.
  • Later in the TV series the Fonz became a business man sharing the restaurant ownership with Al, while Batman's alter ego Bruce Wayne is also a business man by day.
  • Although both characters are popular with the ladies neither has the ability to marry and settle down.
  • Like Batman, the Fonz has many colourful nemesis such as Officer Kirk, the Malachi Brothers, the She-Devils, The Claw, Dr. Dwayne Twitchell (played by Tom Hanks), Candyman, and Mork from Ork.
  • Batman flirts with Catwoman, the Fonz has Katmandu.
  • Both characters have been depicted in live action and animated TV shows, as well as comic books.
  • Both characters became huge merchandising sensations in the 1970's generating a wide range of products, and both were available as 8 inch Mego dolls during this period, shown above.
  • Both characters have inspired a music video (Buddy Holly by Weezer and Bat Dance by Prince).
Mark my words, someday there will undoubtedly be a Happy Days movie that reboots the Fonz franchise! 
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Text and original photos of collectables copyright Mike Artelle, 2014, 2016


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