‘Happy Days’ star Al Molinaro dies at 96 in California hospital

31 Oct 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Al Molinaro, drive-in owner in “Happy Days,” dies at 96.

— Al Molinaro, the loveable character actor with the hangdog face who was known to millions of TV viewers for playing Murray the cop on “The Odd Couple” and malt shop owner Al Delvecchio on “Happy Days,” died Friday at Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, his son Michael Molinaro said. Producer Garry Marshall heard about Molinaro and hired him for the part of police Officer Murray Greshler on “The Odd Couple,” the TV version of Neil Simon’s play about feuding roommates. His next long-running role was that of Al Delvecchio in “Happy Days,” the 1974-1984 nostalgic sitcom about 1950s life that starred Ron Howard and Henry Winkler.

Molinaro joined the cast in 1976, replacing Pat Morita as the owner of Arnold’s Drive-In, and remained until 1982. “In the industry, they used to consider us like a bubble-gum show,” he said. “But I think they overlooked one thing. To the public in America, ‘Happy Days’ was an important show, and I think it was and I think it still is.” Molinaro built on his “Happy Days” success for years after he left the show. Molinaro played a grandfather in “The Family Man” sitcom that aired from 1990-1991, and continued to make guest appearances on other series through the early ’90s.

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