On Friday October 30, 2015, Al Molinaro from Happy Days passed away. The 96-year-old died from a Gallbladder infection.
The Guardian reported the following about Al Molinaro and his history as an actor:
“His son, Michael, said he died on Friday at Verdugo Hills hospital in Glendale, California, following complications from gallstone problems.
Molinaro retired from acting in the 1990s having made his breakthrough in a comedy improv class two decades earlier. Producer Garry Marshall heard about Molinaro and hired him for the part of police officer Murray Greshler in The Odd Couple, the TV version of Neil Simon’s play about feuding room-mates. It starred Tony Randall as photographer Felix Unger and Jack Klugman as sports writer Oscar Madison and featured Molinaro as one of their friends, a simple-minded policeman who at times seemed as much of a threat to his friends as he did to any criminals.
Michael Molinaro said his father “was good friends till the end” with everyone involved in The Odd Couple, which ran from 1970-75.
He took up his role in Happy Days in 1976, two years into the decade-long run of the 1950s sitcom that starred Ron Howard and Henry Winkler. He replaced Pat Morita as the owner of Arnold’s Drive-In, with his trademark saying “Yep-yep-yep-yep”, and remained until 1982.”
Lynn Elber from ABC News reported the following about Molinaro’s late start to acting and his career after Happy Days.
“Molinaro built on his “Happy Days” success for years after he left the show. He brought the character of Al to ‘Joanie Loves Chachi,’ a short-lived ‘Happy Days’ spinoff that aired from 1982-83. In 1987, he and Anson Williams, who played Potsie on ‘Happy Days,’ started Big Al’s, a Midwestern diner chain.
Molinaro came to acting late in life. He had a brief teenage stint as a clarinet player with a band, then worked at a variety of jobs after graduating high school. He moved to California in the early 1950s on casual advice from a friend who suggested he pursue acting.
‘I said, ‘I’ll do that,’ Molinaro told the Kenosha News in a 2004 interview. ‘I get on the Greyhound bus and I’m in Hollywood.’
This is sad news for Molinaro’s family and fans. On the positive side, we may get to see more Happy Days episodes on TV for a little while in his honor.
Here are some Youtube videos featuring Happy Days and Al Molinaro.