Tom Bosley, a character actor who will forever be known as Howard Cunningham from the hit sitcom ‘Happy Days,’ died on Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs, his family told TMZ. According to the report, Bosley had been battling a staph infection. He was 83.
Bosley’s agent, Sheryl Abrams, told the AP that Bosley died of heart failure at 4AM Tuesday. She says he was also battling lung cancer.
Born in Chicago in 1927, Bosley gravitated to acting after serving in the Navy during World War II and found success in a stage production of ‘Our Town’ and later at the Woodstock Opera House in Illinois, where he befriended fellow newcomer Paul Newman.
Several small TV and film roles followed (in ‘Bewitched,’ ‘The Mod Squad,’ ‘Get Smart,’ etc.), but in 1974 he landed the role of a lifetime, playing the wise patriarch in ‘Happy Days’ alongside Ron Howard and Marion Ross, his onscreen wife. The show ran for 11 seasons and ushered in an era of nostalgia for the simpler and less turbulent 1950s.
The actor’s flat Chicago accent served him well on the show, as the Cunningham’s hailed from Milwaukee, two hours north. Watch a clip: