Tom Bosley

Thomas Edward Bosley (October 1, 1927 – October 19, 2010) was an American actor, television personality, comedian and entertainer. Bosley is best known for portraying Howard Cunningham on the 1970s ABC sitcom Happy Days, and the title character on the NBC/ABC series Father Dowling Mysteries. He also was featured in a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote. He originated the title role of the Broadway musical Fiorello!,[1] earning the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.

Tom Bosley
Bosley in September 1960
Thomas Edward Bosley

(1927-10-01)October 1, 1927
DiedOctober 19, 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 83)
Resting placeForest Lawn – Hollywood Hills Cemetery
ResidencePalm Springs, California, U.S.
Alma materDePaul University
  • Actor
  • TV personality
  • entertainer
Years active1955–2010
TelevisionHappy Days
Murder, She Wrote
Father Dowling Mysteries
Jean Eliot
(m. 1962; died 1978)

Patricia Carr (m. 1980)
AwardsTony Award

Early life

Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bosley was the son of Dora (née Heyman) and Benjamin Bosley.[2] Although well known for playing a Catholic priest and Protestant patriarchs, Bosley was actually Jewish.[3][4]

He attended Lake View High School in Chicago, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. While attending DePaul University in Chicago in 1947, he made his stage debut in Our Town with the Canterbury Players at the Fine Arts Theatre. Bosley performed at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois, in 1949 and 1950 alongside Paul Newman.


Early roles and stage roles

Bosley played the Knave of Hearts in a Hallmark Hall of Fame telecast of Eva Le Gallienne's production of Alice in Wonderland in 1955. But his breakthrough stage role was New York mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in the long-running Broadway musical Fiorello! (1959),[1] for which he won a Tony Award.[5]

In 1994, he originated the role of Maurice in the Broadway version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Bosley toured as Cap'n Andy in Harold Prince's 1994 revival of Show Boat.[5]

Bosley's first motion picture role was in 1963, as the would-be suitor of Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger. Other films include The World of Henry Orient; Divorce American Style; Yours, Mine and Ours; Gus and the made-for-television The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal. Bosley shared a heartfelt story about his own experience with the Holocaust in the documentary film Paper Clips.

Among his early television appearances was in 1960 on the CBS summer replacement series, Diagnosis: Unknown, with Patrick O'Neal. In 1962, he portrayed Assistant District Attorney Ryan in the episode "The Man Who Wanted to Die" on James Whitmore's ABC legal drama The Law and Mr. Jones. Also in 1962, Bosley played Teddy opposite Tony Randall and Boris Karloff in Arsenic & Old Lace for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. About this time, he was a guest star on the NBC police sitcom, Car 54, Where Are You? He also appeared on episodes of Bonanza, Bewitched, Get Smart, The Silent Force, The Streets of San Francisco, Night Gallery, A Touch of Grace, and The Love Boat. In 1969, Bosley appeared in a comical episode of The Virginian, entitled "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs,"[6] appearing alongside fellow guest-stars James Brolin, Yvonne De Carlo, Carrie Snodgress, Gary Vinson, with Virginian regulars David Hartman and Doug McClure.

Happy Days and other film and television roles

Bosley's best-known role was the character Howard Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days. He portrayed Sheriff Amos Tupper on Murder, She Wrote and the eponymous Father Frank Dowling on Father Dowling Mysteries. Among myriad television appearances, one notable early performance was in the "Eyes" segment of the 1969 pilot of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Joan Crawford. In 1977, he appeared in the miniseries Testimony of Two Men and, in 1978, he played the role of Benjamin Franklin in the television mini-series The Bastard, a role he replayed the following year in the sequel The Rebels.

His film appearances included roles in Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), The World of Henry Orient (1964), Divorce American Style (1967), Bang Bang Kid (1967), The Secret War of Harry Frigg (1968), Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), To Find a Man (1972), Mixed Company (1974), The Night That Panicked America (1975), Gus (1976), The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal (1979), O'Hara's Wife (1982), Million Dollar Mystery (1987) and Wicked Stepmother (1989).

Bosley starred in the 2008 Hallmark Channel television movie Charlie & Me. In 2010, he appeared in The Back-up Plan and Santa Buddies, which were his final films. In 1984, he guest-hosted the "Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" with local newscaster Pat Harper.[7]

Voice-over roles

Bosley was known for his unique gravelly voice, leading to a number of voice acting roles. He narrated the syndicated television documentary That's Hollywood (1976–82). He hosted The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, a 1977 radio drama series for children. He voiced many cartoon characters, including Harry Boyle in the animated series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Bosley was the voice of B.A.H. Humbug in the 1978 Rankin & Bass holiday special The Stingiest Man in Town. He provided the voice of the title character in the 1980s cartoon The World of David the Gnome and the shop owner Mr. Winkle in the children's Christmas special The Tangerine Bear.


During the 1970s and 1980s, Bosley did several commercials for Glad Sandwich and Garbage Bags. He made radio commercials for the new Saturn car company, a "different kind of car company," in 1990. Later in life, he was the television spokesman for SMC (Specialty Merchandise Corporation), a national wholesaler and drop shipper.[8]


Bosley died from complications of a staph infection on October 19, 2010, at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, near his home in Palm Springs, California.[9] His agent, Sheryl Abrams, said Bosley had been battling lung cancer.[9][10] He was survived by his wife, former actress Patricia Carr.[11] He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills Cemetery.

Happy Days lawsuit

On April 19, 2011, Bosley's estate and four of his Happy Days co-stars, Erin Moran, Don Most, Marion Ross, and Anson Williams, filed a $10 million breach-of-contract lawsuit against CBS, which owns the show, claiming they had not been paid for merchandising revenues owed under their contracts. The cast members claimed they had not received revenues from show-related items, including comic books, T-shirts, scrapbooks, trading cards, games, lunchboxes, dolls, toy cars, magnets, greeting cards, and DVDs where their images appear on the box covers. Under their contracts, they were supposed to be paid five percent from the net proceeds of merchandising if their sole image were used, and half that amount if they were in a group. CBS said it owed the actors $8,500 and $9,000 each, most of it from slot machine revenues, but the group said they were owed millions. The lawsuit was initiated after Ross was informed by a friend playing slots at a casino of a "Happy Days" machine on which players win the jackpot when five Marion Rosses are rolled.[12]

In October 2011, a judge rejected the group's fraud claim, which if proved could have garnered them millions of dollars in punitive damages, above and beyond any actual damages proven.[13] On June 5, 2012, a judge denied a motion filed by CBS to have the case thrown out, which meant it would go to trial on July 17 if the matter was not settled by then.[14] In July 2012, the actors settled their lawsuit with CBS. Each received a payment of $65,000 and a promise by CBS to continue honoring the terms of their contracts.[15][16]

Filmography and stage roles


Year Title Role Notes
1963Love with the Proper StrangerAnthony Colombo
1964The World of Henry OrientFrank Boyd
1967Divorce American StyleFarley
Bang Bang KidMeriweather P. Newberry
1968The Secret War of Harry FriggGen. Roscoe Pennypacker
Yours, Mine and OursFamily Doctor
1972To Find a ManDr. Katchaturian
1974Mixed CompanyAl
1982O'Hara's WifeFrank O'Hara
1987Million Dollar MysterySidney Preston
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the NightGeppettoVoice role
The Gnomes' Great AdventureDavid the Gnome
1989Wicked StepmotherLt. MacIntosh
1998Little Bigfoot 2: The Journey HomeRanger Tasker
2000The Tangerine BearMr. WinkleVoice role
2002Returning Mickey SternHarry Mankelbaum
2004Felix the Cat Saves ChristmasSanta ClausVoice role
2005ConfessionFather Abbott Sutton
Geppetto's SecretGeppettoVoice role
2006Mothers and DaughtersBob
2009Santa BuddiesSanta PawsVoice role
2010The Back-up PlanArthur


Year Title Role Notes
1955Alice in WonderlandKnave of HeartsTelevision film
TV Reader's DigestMan in Studebaker CommercialEpisode: "If I Were Rich"
1959The Play of the WeekDupont-Dufour Jr.Episode: "Thieves Carnival"
1960Diagnosis: UnknownFreddie ZieglerEpisode: "The Case of the Radiant Wine"
The Right ManThrottlebottomTelevision film
1962FocusFred Copper
Arsenic & Old LaceTeddy Brewster
The Law and Mr. JonesAssistant D.A. RyanEpisode: "The Man who Wanted to Die"
1963Car 54, Where Are You?Reverend Harold Petersen/Archie the ArtistEpisode: "The Star Boarder"
Naked CityJudgeEpisode: "Golden Lads and Girls"
Route 66Jim Horst
Summer Klein
"Soda Pop and Paper Flags"
"Same Picture, Different Frame"
1963-1964The NursesClarence
Mr. Ross
"The Witch of the East Wing"
"Rites of Spring"
1964A Very Close FamilySonTelevision film
The DuPont Show of the WeekHowardEpisode: "The Gambling Heart"
1965Dr. KildareHarry MarkhamEpisode: "All Brides Should Be Beautiful"
Profiles in CourageGeorge William NorrisEpisode: "George W. Norris"
Ben CaseyTimothy Michael MacMurroughEpisode: "Did Your Mother Come from Ireland, Ben Casey?"
The DefendersCharlie BarryEpisode: "The Bum's Rush"
1966JerichoPercy VandercookEpisode: "Dutch and Go"
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.QuantumEpisode: "The Faustus Affair"
1968The F.B.I.John ClantonEpisode: "Ring of Steel"
Get SmartEmil FarkasEpisode: "The Farkas Fracas"
1968-1969BonanzaTitus Simpson
Hiram Peabody
"The Last Vote"
"A Lawman's Lot is Not a Happy One"
1969The VirginianNat TrumbullEpisode: "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs"
The Mod SquadJohn WellsEpisode: "A Run for the Money"
Marcus Welby, M.D.Tiny BakerEpisode: "A Matter of Humanities"
1969-1970The Debbie Reynolds ShowBob LandersSeries regular
18 episodes
1969-1971Night GallerySidney Resnick
Jules Kettleman
"The Cemetery/Eyes/The Escape Route"
"Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills and Other Trophies"
1970The Bill Cosby ShowCookie MohargEpisode: "The Gumball Incident"
The Most Deadly GameGeorgeEpisode: "Breakdown"
The Silent ForceBinachiEpisode: "In By Nine, Out By Five"
1970-1973Love, American StyleDr. Y.A. Harris
Jack Smallerd
Harry Boyle
Alan Walker
"Love and the Uncoupled Couple"
"Love and the Artful Codger"
"Love and the Old-Fashioned Father"
"Love and the Comedienne"
1970-1971The Name of the GameCharley Reid
Morey Tate
"A Love to Remember"
"Seek and Destroy"
1971A Step Out of LineJack BergerTelevision film
VanishedJohnny Cavanaugh
BewitchedFerdyEpisode: "Samantha's Magic Mirror"
Mission: ImpossibleHenry MatulaEpisode: "Blind"
Funny FaceUsed Car DealerEpisode: "The Used Car"
Congratulations, It's a Boy!HerbTelevision film
SargeStanley MillerEpisode: "Psst! Wanna Buy a Dirty Picture?"
The New Dick Van Dyke ShowMr. O'HareEpisode: "A Home is Not a Home, Yet"
Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo JonesMr. JonesTelevision film
1972Me and the ChimpGoodrichEpisode: "The Paint Job"
Bobby Jo and the Good Time BandMayorTelevision movie
No Place to RunDr. GolinskiTelevision movie
BanyonSteve CorbettEpisode: "The Graveyard Vote"
The Sixth SenseAlbertEpisode: "The Eyes that Wouldn't Die"
The Sandy Duncan ShowBert QuinnMain cast
11 episodes
1972-1974Wait Till Your Father Gets HomeHarry BoyleLead role
Voice role
48 episodes
1973Temperatures RisingGibsonEpisode: "Black is Beautiful"
Medical CenterHoward SpirlingEpisode: "Judgement"
The Paul Lynde ShowCongressman LandisEpisode: "The Congressman's Son"
MaudeDr. TaskoEpisode: "Maude and the Medical Profession"
A Touch of GracePreacherEpisode: "The Lodge"
ChaseAxel SullivanEpisode: "Gang War"
TenaflyDave BarkerEpisode: "Joyride to Nowhere"
McMillan & WifeSam HamiltonEpisode: "Freefall to Terror"
Miracle on 34th StreetJudge HarperTelevision film
1973-1976The Streets of San FranciscoSaretti
Eddie Coughlin
Eddie Clark
"Going Home"
"Dead or Alive"
1974The Girl Who Came Gift-WrappedHaroldTelevision film
Death CruiseDavid MasonTelevision film
1974-1984Happy DaysHoward CunninghamMain cast
255 episodes
Nominated- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
1975Who is the Black Dahlia?Bevo MeansTelevision film
InsightIncredible ManEpisode: "The Incredible Man"
The Last SurvivorsMarcus DamianTelevision film
Kolchak: The Night StalkerJack FlahertyEpisode: "The Sentry"
Ellery QueenBud ArmstrongEpisode: "The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader"
The Night That Panicked AmericaNorman SmithTelevision film
Mobile OneJohn BrewsterEpisode: "The Crusader"
1976The Love BoatGeorge HavlicekPilot film
1977Testimony of Two MenDr. Lewis HedlerMiniseries
Black Market BabyDr. Andrew BrantfordTelevision film
1978With This RingEdward EdwardsTelevision movie
The BastardBenjamin FranklinMiniseries
The Stingiest Man in TownB. A. H. Humbug, Esq.Television special
Voice role
1979The Triangle Factory Fire ScandalMorris FeldmanTelevision film
The Castaways on Gilligan's IslandHenry ElliottTelevision film
The RebelsBenjamin FranklinMiniseries
The Return of Mod SquadFrank WebberTelevision film
1980For the Love of ItNormanTelevision film
1982Tales of the UnexpectedRobert StackpoleEpisode: "Light Fingers"
Joanie Loves ChachiHoward CunninghamTwo episodes
1982-1987The Love BoatHarry Meacham
Herbert Chandler
George Hammond
Howard Pfister
"Pride of the Pacific/The Viking's Son/Separate Vacations/The Experiment/Getting to Know You"
"Julie and the Bachelor/Set-Up for Romance/Intensive Care"
"Hidden Treasure/Picture from the Past/Ace's Salary"
"Who Killed Maxwell Thorn?"
1984The Jesse Owens StoryJimmy HoffaTelevision film
1984-1988Murder, She WroteSheriff Amos TupperRecurring role
19 episodes
1985Finder of Lost LovesMalcolm BeckEpisode: "Deadly Silence"
Private SessionsHarry O'ReillyTelevision film
GlitterDocEpisode: "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven"
1986Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious NunFather Chris DeLeonTelevision film
1986-1987HotelWalter Devlin
Blaine Chapman
"Child's Play"
"Fatal Attraction"
1987Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling MysteryFather Frank DowlingTelevision film
The World of David the GnomeDavid the GnomeVoice role (English version)
1988-1989Out of This WorldGrandpa ZeligTwo episodes
1989Fire and RainDerryl PriceTelevision film
1989-1991Father Dowling MysteriesFather Frank DowlingLead role
42 episodes
1990The Love Boat: A Valentine VoyageLt. LoganTelevision film
1992Hearts Are WildSam FesmanEpisode: "The Catch"
1993ABC Weekend SpecialCarl W. ClemmerEpisode: "The Parsley Garden"
1993-2002RugratsStrike Maxwell
Dwayne Tickerbacker
"King Ten Pen/Runaway Angelica"
"Murmur on the Ornery Express"
1994Burke's LawDr. BurkeEpisode: "Who Killed Alexander the Great?"
Heaven Help UsAlbertEpisode: "Lovers Lullaby"
1996The Drew Carey ShowMr. BobeckEpisode: "Mimi's Day Parade"
Boy Meets WorldHimselfEpisode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"
1997Johnny BravoSanta ClausVoice role
Episode: "'Twas the Night"
1999Early EditionUncle VicEpisode: "Just One of Those Things"
Port CharlesBurtOne episode
MaggieFather GeorgeEpisode: "Uh-oh Baby"
2000Jack & JillBernieEpisode: "Lovers and Other Strangers"
Walker, Texas RangerMinisterTwo episodes
2001Jason and the Heroes of Mount OlympusJupiterMain cast
Voice role
26 episodes
2001ERWalter NikolaidesTwo episodes
Legend of the Candy CaneFranklin HolzVoice role
Television film
Family LawKyle MasonEpisode: "Angel's Flight"
2002Touched by an AngelElmerEpisode: "The Blue Angel"
Mary ChristmasLes TurnerTelevision film
2004It's All RelativeFather JosephEpisode: "Fight for Your Invite to Party"
Christmas at Water's EdgeHarryTelevision film
2005Still StandingDr. S.T. BloomEpisode: "Still Holding"
The Fallen OnesRabbi Eli SchmittTelevision film
One Tree HillMel McFaddenEpisode: "Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends"
Family GuyHoward CunninghamVoice role
Episode: "The Father, the Son and the Holy Fonz"
2006Nobody's WatchingTom BosleyTelevision pilot
Hidden PlacesWakefieldTelevision film
That '70s ShowDr. HammondEpisode: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
2008Charlie & MeCharlieTelevision film
2010Betsy's Kindergarten AdventuresPrincipal Richard WarnerVoice role
Episode: "The People in Our Community: Introducing the Police Department"


Year Title Role Notes
1958The Power and the GloryVillager, Prisoner, IndianBroadway
1959The Beaux' StratagemScrubBroadway
1959Fiorello!Fiorello LaGuardiaBroadway
Tony Award
1962Nowhere to Go But UpIzzy EinsteinBroadway
1963Natural AffectionVince BrinkmanBroadway
1964A Murderer Among UsCaboucheBroadway
1965Catch Me If You CanPerformerBroadway
1968The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*NHyman KaplanBroadway
1994Beauty and the BeastMauriceBroadway
1996Show BoatCap'n Andynational tour
2002CabaretHerr SchultzBroadway
2006On Golden PondNorman Thayer, Jr.national tour


  1. Glover, William (October 25, 1959). "Newcomer Tom Bosley plays famous mayor in 'Fiorello'". Lewiston Morning Tribune. (Idaho). Associated Press. p. 2.
  2. "Happy Days Actor Tom Bosley Dies". Baltimore Sun. Archived from the original on October 22, 2010. Retrieved October 19, 2010.
  3. "Tom Bosley: A 'Golden Pond' of Memories". The Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. October 26, 2006. Retrieved December 13, 2006.
  4. Bloom, Nate (September 16, 2008). "Jewish Stars". Cleveland Jewish News.
  5. The Broadway League. "Fiorello! details at". Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  6. IMBD Page, The Virginian, Season 7, episode 17 - "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs
  7. WPIX-TV coverage of "The M*A*C*Y*S 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular", July 4, 1984.
  8. "SMC". Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  9. "Tom Bosley, Father on 'Happy Days,' Dies at 83", Associated Press via The New York Times, October 19, 2010.
  10. "Tony-Winning Actor Tom Bosley, Best Known for 'Happy Days', Dies at 83",; accessed October 2, 2015.
  11. Silverman, Stephen M. "Happy Days Star Tom Bosley Dead at 83". People. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  12. Zamost, Scott (April 20, 2011). "'Happy Days' actors claim fraud, money owed for merchandising". CNNMoney.
  13. Gardner, Eriq (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' Actors Win Key Ruling in CBS Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter.
  14. Scott, Zamost (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' cast members' lawsuit heading for trial". CNN.
  15. Daley, Sean (August 6, 2012). "Chachi done with broke Joanie". New York Post.
  16. Zamost, Scott (July 7, 2012). "'Happy Days' actors settle lawsuit with CBS". CNN.
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