LOS ANGELES – Tom Bosley, a Tony Award-winning actor who was best known for playing Howard Cunningham, the amiable father on the hit TV series “Happy Days,” has died. He was 83.
Bosley died early Tuesday morning at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., after a brief battle with lung cancer.
In an acting career that began on stage in Chicago in the late 1940s, Bosley won a Tony Award for best featured actor in 1960 for his breakthrough role as New York City’s legendary Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the long-running Broadway musical “Fiorello!”
He made his movie debut as Natalie Wood’s chubby potential suitor in the 1963 movie “Love with the Proper Stranger” and appeared in 1960s films such as “The World of Henry Orient,” “Divorce American Style,” “The Secret War of Harry Frigg” and “Yours, Mine and Ours.”
But it was television that gave him his greatest fame.
His role as the dad to Ron Howard’s Richie and Erin Moran’s Joanie Cunningham on “Happy Days,” the 1950s-set ABC series that debuted in 1974, earned him an Emmy nomination.
Of his role as “Mr. C,” Bosley told the Orange County Register in 1989 that he knew he’d “always be Howard Cunningham to most people, but I’m proud of that character and don’t mind being identified with it.”
After “Happy Days” ended, Bosley played Cabot Cove Sheriff Amos Tupper on “Murder, She Wrote” for four years.
He then starred as a crime-solving Chicago priest on “Father Dowling Mysteries,” the 1989-91 TV series with Tracy Nelson as Sister Stephanie.