Happy Days Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Al Molinaro of ‘Happy Days’ dies at age 96.

Al Molinaro, an actor who specialized in lovable blue-collar roles and played his Midwestern cadence, penguin-like physique, beaked nose and wayward eyebrows for laughs on the long-running sitcoms “The Odd Couple” and “Happy Days,” died Oct. 30 at a hospital in Glendale, Calif. Al Molinaro, who played Al Delvecchio, the owner of Arnold’s Drive-In, on the popular ABC sitcom Happy Days, died Thursday in a Wisconsin hospital, according to TMZ. He also appeared in the “Happy Days” spinoff “Joani Loves Chachi.” Younger audiences may recognize Molinaro as Al from Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” music video, which was set in the “Happy Days” drive-in and featured edited footage of Fonzie (Henry Wrinkler) dancing with girls. Of his Hollywood career, he said, he was lucky. “It takes a lot of luck in show business,” he said. “You’ve just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time.”

Molinaro also was known for portraying Murray the Cop, the poker-playing buddy to Tony Randall’s Felix Unger and Jack Klugman’s Oscar Madison, on an earlier ABC sitcom, The Odd Couple, co-created by Garry Marshall from the Neil Simon play. The actor is best known for playing Al Delvecchio on “Happy Days.” The character — who often told long stories ending with the phrase “Yep, yep, yep, yep, yep” — ran Arnold’s, the Milwaukee hangout for Richie, Fonzie and the rest of the gang. A native of Kenosha, Wis., Molinaro joined Happy Days — also created by Marshall — in 1974 for its second season, and his character eventually took over the diner from Pat Morita, who had played Arnold (and left for his own sitcom). He left his job as assistant city manager in Kenosha and gradually cobbled together emceeing and other entertainment work, while supporting his family running a collection agency. “I spent 20 years here before I got anything going,” Mr.

In 1994, Molinaro reprised the role of Al yet again, this time for Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” video (directed by Spike Jonze), with the band performing at the drive-in. For one episode, Felix and Oscar find him in a New York park at night, dressed in drag for a special assignment to arrest “shady types.” “This time of night,” Murray explains, “the muggers don’t get a great selection. Molinaro’s character, “Big Al” Delvecchio, was part of an ensemble of endearing 1950s archetypes that included the hip rebel Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler) and the clean-cut Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard). Molinaro had roles on fleeting shows in the 1980s and early 1990s such as “The Family Man” and “Step By Step.” He also starred in a failed TV pilot called “The Ugily Family” (1982) as the patriarch of an unattractive clan who is constantly correcting mispronunciations of his surname as “ugly.” Mr. Molinaro told the Chicago Tribune that Marshall, who went on to direct hit films including “Pretty Woman,” tried unsuccessfully to recruit him for big-screen work. “I can’t work in movies with Garry because I’m so square that I won’t be in a movie that has four-letter words in it,” Mr.

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