||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (May 2012)|
Molinaro as Murray the Cop in The Odd Couple.
|Born||Albert Francis Molinaro
June 24, 1919
|Residence||Glendale, California, U.S.|
|Known for||Al Delvecchio|
|Home town||Kenosha, Wisconsin|
|Spouse(s)||Sidney Molinaro (? – ?),
Betty Farrell (1981 – present)
Albert Francis "Al" Molinaro (born June 24, 1919) is a retired American actor in television and films, most notably as Al Delvecchio, the owner of Arnold's on Happy Days and its spin-off show Joanie Loves Chachi, Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple television series, as well as starring in commercials for On-Cor frozen dinners and with former NFL defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry for Mr. Big toilet paper. He also starred in a 1982 situation comedy called The Ugily Family, about an unsightly Italian family whose last name is constantly mispronounced as "ugly".
Life and career
Molinaro was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His boyhood home is 2417 53rd Street in Kenosha's "Old West Side" neighborhood. His parents were Italian immigrants and his father, in addition to being a prominent tavern/restaurant/hotel owner, was also considered a community "don", but not in the popular media sense of the word. Rather, Molinaro's father was a widely known leader of the Kenosha Italian community - someone who sponsored hundreds of Italians in their effort to immigrate to the United States ("sponsored" in a monetary sense, as was required to secure passage from the "Old World" in those days). One of ten children, one of his brothers (Joseph) was Kenosha County's longest-serving district attorney (having retired as a municipal judge), and another (George) was a longtime state representative and Speaker of the Wisconsin Legislature.
Al moved to California in the early 50's and worked odd jobs, finally saving enough money to start his own collection agency. He eventually sold his business and became interested in southern California real estate speculation. His investments paid off when one of his properties was purchased by a conglomerate which used the land to build one of the largest retail shopping malls of its day.
As a result, Molinaro was already financially independent when he decided to pursue his longtime dream of being an actor. He began his role as Murray (the policeman) on The Odd Couple by poking his nose through a doorway, prior to walking in. His nose, by itself, got so many laughs it changed the flow of the scene. Murray was an instant hit with fans, and Molinaro became an "overnight success" after years of struggling in the entertainment business.
About his Hollywood career: "I spent twenty years here before I got anything going, and from that I got lucky. It takes a lot of luck in show business. You've just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time."
On his hometown of Kenosha: "I love that town; I love it. If it wasn't that I left it for show business, I'd still be there today."
In 1987, Molinaro and fellow Happy Days cast member Anson Williams opened a chain of diners called Big Al's. In 1992, the 73-year-old retired from acting in film and television, though he would continue to appear in TV commercials until the early 2000s. He appeared in a total of 42 On-Cor commercials between 1987 and 2003. Molinaro appeared in Weezer's music video for the 1994 song "Buddy Holly", which was set in Arnold's diner. He introduced the band as "Kenosha, Wisconsin's own Weezer".
In 2004, Molinaro announced plans to write a book about his childhood in Kenosha and his acting experiences. His character Murray was recast in a 1993 CBS Odd Couple movie. He did not appear in the 2005 Happy Days Reunion which aired on ABC.
- Freaky Friday (1976)
- The Great American Traffic Jam (1980)
- Get Smart (1969 – 1970)
- The Odd Couple (1970 – 1975)
- Happy Days (1976 – 1982)
- Joanie Loves Chachi (1982 – 1983)
- The Ugily Family (1982)
- The Family Man (1990 – 1991)
- Step By Step (1992)
- Brant, Marley (2006-10-01). Happier Days: Paramount Television's Classic Sitcoms, 1974-1984. Random House Digital, Inc. pp. 43–. ISBN 9780823089338. Retrieved 13 July 2012.
- Living Relative