The original title of Happy Days was the opposite of what The Fonz stood for and was changed after a lukewarm reception from test audiences.
The beloved sitcom happy days is known for “jumping the shark” after season 5, but if the show had stuck to its original name, it never would have gotten this far. First shown in 1974, happy days began as a nostalgic sitcom about the lives of the Cunningham family and their friends. However, it soon became clear that Henry Winkler’s Fonzie was the real star of the show, and he was taking on an increasingly large role as happy days goes on. The Garry Marshall sitcom from the 1950s also made household names of Robin Williams, who played Mork, and Ron Howard, who played Richie Cunningham and was originally intended to star the show.
Interestingly, the strength of future film director Ron Howard’s performance in the original happy days the pilot put him in American graffiti. It was the commercial success of George Lucas’ love letter in the 1950s that – according to Garry Marshall – finally convinced ABC to buy the show. Just commissioned by ABC, happy days It ran for 11 seasons and spawned several spinoffs, but the story could have been very different if Marshall had stuck to his original title.
The original Happy Days title was much worse
The original title that Garry Marshall had in mind happy days What COOL, a decidedly unusual name that doesn’t work for a number of reasons. Most obviously, it conflicts with Marshall’s idealized, nostalgic view of 1950s America. While Henry Winkler’s character Fonzie is the epitome of cool, the far less cool Richie Cunningham would be the star. It is possible that Marshall intended the title ironically, but it is more likely that he wanted to reflect the behavior of 1950s teenagers, such as the character of Henry Winkler. Regardless, it was a turn off for audience testing (via Prisons).
It’s no surprise that the proposed title wasn’t to the taste of the test audience, because no one likes to be told something is cool before they’ve even had a chance to judge for themselves. Test audiences rejected the name because they felt it COOL it was very close to KOOL, the brand of menthol cigarettes. Instead, one of the producers suggested calling the show happy daysbecause that is what the show was intended to present to the audience.
Why “Happy Days” is a better fit for the classic TV show
In 1973, the previous year happy days season 1 started The Exorcist it was the highest-grossing film at the American box office and directed by George Lucas American graffiti placed at number 3. The huge success of both films is indicative of the divide between audiences who wanted to reflect on the violent political upheaval of the past decade and those who wanted to forget that it had happened. The happy days that producer Marshall wanted to reflect to the ABC audience was that of a much simpler time before JFK’s assassination and before the Vietnam War.
Marshall’s idealized vision of a traditional American community in the 1950s and the nostalgia evoked by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox’s title track made happy days11 seasons and all seven happy days spinoff series the perfect escape from turbulent times. While the film wouldn’t be released until 1978, the original Grease The musical had run for three years before Marshall’s show first aired, further reflecting the appetite for 1950s nostalgia. Against this backdrop, a show called COOL promised nothing to an audience longing for that warm fuzzy feeling of happy days gone by, while a show called happy days promised just that.
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