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Tom Bosley

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Tom Bosley
Bosley in September 1960
Thomas Edward Bosley

(1927-10-01)October 1, 1927
DiedOctober 19, 2010(2010-10-19) (aged 83)
EducationLake View High School
Alma materDePaul University
  • Actor
  • TV personality
  • entertainer
Years active1955–2010
Known forFiorello!
TelevisionHappy Days
Murder, She Wrote
Father Dowling Mysteries
Jean Eliot
(m. 1962; died 1978)
Patricia Carr
(m. 1980)
AwardsTony Award

Thomas Edward Bosley (October 1, 1927 – October 19, 2010) was an American actor, television personality and entertainer. Bosley is best known for portraying Howard Cunningham on the ABC sitcom Happy Days (1974–1984) for which he received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series nomination. Bosley also did a variety of voiceover work such as playing the lead character in the animated series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home, and the narrator of the syndicated film history documentary series That's Hollywood. He's also known for his role as Sheriff Amos Tupper in the Angela Lansbury lead CBS mystery series Murder, She Wrote (1984–1988), and as the title character in the NBC/ABC series Father Dowling Mysteries (1989–1991).

Known for his work on stage, he originated the role of Fiorello La Guardia in the Broadway musical Fiorello!,[1] earning the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical. He's also known for his film appearances in Love with the Proper Stranger (1963), The World of Henry Orient (1964), Divorce American Style (1967), Yours, Mine and Ours, The Secret War of Harry Frigg (both 1968), Gus (1976), and The Back-up Plan (2010).

Bosley made his television debut as the Knave of Hearts in the NBC adaptation of Alice in Wonderland in 1955. He gained attention as a character actor performing various roles in shows such as Naked City, Profiles in Courage, The Defenders, Night Gallery, Get Smart, Bewitched, and Mission: Impossible.

Early life[edit]

Born and raised in Chicago, 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]


Early roles and stage roles[edit]

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]

Bosley as George W. Norris in the television anthology Profiles in Courage, 1965

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?. In June 1964, he appeared on the satirical television comedy revue, That Was the Week That Was.[6]

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, titled "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs," appearing alongside fellow guest-stars James Brolin, Yvonne De Carlo, Carrie Snodgress, Gary Vinson, with Virginian regulars David Hartman and Doug McClure.

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.

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]

Happy Days and other film and television roles[edit]

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[edit]

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.


Tom Bosley as Benjamin Franklin in 1979

From the 1950s through the 1990s, Bosley appeared in numerous television commercials including Studebaker automobiles(1956), and Glad sandwich and garbage bags. He appeared in 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 was a spokesman for YES Entertainment Network, Inc., a fraudulent internet firm scheme that defrauded $13 million from investors around the country in the late 1990s. [9]


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.[10] His agent, Sheryl Abrams, said Bosley had been battling lung cancer.[10][11] He was survived by his wife, former actress Patricia Carr, and daughter Amy Bosley Baer, who married Matthew Baer, son of Richard Baer.[12]

Happy Days lawsuit[edit]

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 Cunninghams (Ross's character on Happy Days) are rolled.[13]

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.[14] 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.[15] 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.[16][17]

Filmography and stage roles[edit]


Year Title Role Notes
1963 Love with the Proper Stranger Anthony Colombo
1964 The World of Henry Orient Frank Boyd
1967 Divorce American Style Farley
Bang Bang Kid Meriweather P. Newberry
1968 The Secret War of Harry Frigg Gen. Roscoe Pennypacker
Yours, Mine and Ours Family Doctor
1972 To Find a Man Dr. Katchaturian
1974 Mixed Company Al
1976 Gus Spinner
1982 O'Hara's Wife Frank O'Hara
1987 Million Dollar Mystery Sidney Preston
Pinocchio and the Emperor of the Night Geppetto Voice
The Gnomes' Great Adventure David the Gnome Voice
1989 Wicked Stepmother Lt. MacIntosh
1998 Little Bigfoot 2: The Journey Home Ranger Tasker
2000 The Tangerine Bear Mr. Winkle Voice, Direct-to-video
2002 Returning Mickey Stern Harry Mankelbaum
2004 Felix the Cat Saves Christmas Santa Claus Voice, Direct-to-video
2005 Confession Father Abbott Sutton
Popstar Harvey
Geppetto's Secret Geppetto Voice
2006 Mothers and Daughters Bob
2009 Santa Buddies Santa Paws Voice, Direct-to-video
2010 The Back-up Plan Arthur


Year Title Role Notes
1955 Alice in Wonderland Knave of Hearts Television film
TV Reader's Digest Man in Studebaker Commercial Episode: "If I Were Rich"; Uncredited
1959 The Play of the Week Dupont-Dufour Jr. Episode: "Thieves Carnival"
1960 Diagnosis: Unknown Freddie Ziegler Episode: "The Case of the Radiant Wine"
The Right Man Throttlebottom Television film
1962 Focus Fred Copper
Arsenic & Old Lace Teddy Brewster
The Law and Mr. Jones Assistant D.A. Ryan Episode: "The Man who Wanted to Die"
1963 Car 54, Where Are You? Rev. Harold Petersen
/Archie the Artist
Episode: "The Star Boarder"
Naked City Judge Episode: "Golden Lads and Girls"
Route 66 Jim Horst
Summer Klein
"Soda Pop and Paper Flags"
"Same Picture, Different Frame"
1963–1964 The Nurses Clarence
Mr. Ross
"The Witch of the East Wing"
"Rites of Spring"
1964 A Very Close Family Son Television film
The DuPont Show of the Week Howard Episode: "The Gambling Heart"
1965 Dr. Kildare Harry Markham Episode: "All Brides Should Be Beautiful"
Profiles in Courage George William Norris Episode: "George W. Norris"
Ben Casey Timothy Michael MacMurrough Episode: "Did Your Mother Come from Ireland, Ben Casey?"
The Defenders Charlie Barry Episode: "The Bum's Rush"
1966 Jericho Percy Vandercook Episode: "Dutch and Go"
The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. Quantum Episode: "The Faustus Affair"
1968 The F.B.I. John Clanton Episode: "Ring of Steel"
Get Smart Emil Farkas Episode: "The Farkas Fracas"
1968–1969 Bonanza Titus Simpson
Hiram Peabody
"The Last Vote"
"A Lawman's Lot is Not a Happy One"
1969 The Virginian Nat Trumbull Episode: "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs"
The Mod Squad John Wells Episode: "A Run for the Money"
Marcus Welby, M.D. Tiny Baker Episode: "A Matter of Humanities"
1969–1970 The Debbie Reynolds Show Bob Landers Series regular
18 episodes
1969–1971 Night Gallery Sidney Resnick
Jules Kettleman
"The Cemetery/Eyes/The Escape Route"
"Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills and Other Trophies"
1970 The Bill Cosby Show Cookie Moharg Episode: "The Gumball Incident"
The Most Deadly Game George Episode: "Breakdown"
The Silent Force Binachi Episode: "In By Nine, Out By Five"
1970–1973 Love, American Style Dr. 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"
1970–1971 The Name of the Game Charley Reid
Morey Tate
"A Love to Remember"
"Seek and Destroy"
1971 A Step Out of Line Jack Berger Television film
Vanished Johnny Cavanaugh
Bewitched Ferdy Episode: "Samantha's Magic Mirror"
Mission: Impossible Henry Matula Episode: "Blind"
Funny Face Used Car Dealer Episode: "The Used Car"
Congratulations, It's a Boy! Herb Television film
Sarge Stanley Miller Episode: "Psst! Wanna Buy a Dirty Picture?"
The New Dick Van Dyke Show Mr. O'Hare Episode: "A Home is Not a Home, Yet"
Mr. and Mrs. Bo Jo Jones Mr. Jones Television film
1972 Me and the Chimp Goodrich Episode: "The Paint Job"
Bobby Jo and the Good Time Band Mayor Television movie
No Place to Run Dr. Golinski Television movie
Banyon Steve Corbett Episode: "The Graveyard Vote"
The Sixth Sense Albert Episode: "The Eyes that Wouldn't Die"
The Sandy Duncan Show Bert Quinn Main cast
11 episodes
1972–1974 Wait Till Your Father Gets Home Harry Boyle (voice) Lead role
48 episodes
1973 Temperatures Rising Gibson Episode: "Black is Beautiful"
Medical Center Howard Spirling Episode: "Judgement"
The Paul Lynde Show Congressman Landis Episode: "The Congressman's Son"
Maude Dr. Tasko Episode: "Maude and the Medical Profession"
A Touch of Grace Preacher Episode: "The Lodge"
Chase Axel Sullivan Episode: "Gang War"
Tenafly Dave Barker Episode: "Joyride to Nowhere"
McMillan & Wife Sam Hamilton Episode: "Freefall to Terror"
Miracle on 34th Street Judge Harper Television film
1973–1976 The Streets of San Francisco Saretti
Eddie Coughlin
Eddie Clark
"Going Home"
"Dead or Alive"
1974 The Girl Who Came Gift-Wrapped Harold Television film
Death Cruise David Mason
1974–1984 Happy Days Howard Cunningham Main cast
255 episodes
Nominated- Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series
1975 Who Is the Black Dahlia? Bevo Means Television film
Insight Incredible Man Episode: "The Incredible Man"
The Last Survivors Marcus Damian Television film
Kolchak: The Night Stalker Jack Flaherty Episode: "The Sentry"
Ellery Queen Bud Armstrong Episode: "The Adventure of the Comic Book Crusader"
The Night That Panicked America Norman Smith Television film
Mobile One John Brewster Episode: "The Crusader"
1976 The Love Boat George Havlicek Pilot film
1977 Testimony of Two Men Dr. Lewis Hedler Miniseries
Black Market Baby Dr. Andrew Brantford Television film
1978 With This Ring Edward Edwards Television movie
The Bastard Benjamin Franklin Miniseries
The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour Himself Comedy-Variety Show
The Stingiest Man in Town B. A. H. Humbug, Esq. (voices) Television special
1979 The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal Morris Feldman Television film
The Castaways on Gilligan's Island Henry Elliott
The Rebels Benjamin Franklin Miniseries
The Return of Mod Squad Frank Webber Television film
1980 Here's Boomer Archie Hale Episode: "Me and My Shadow"
For the Love of It Norman Television film
1982 Tales of the Unexpected Robert Stackpole Episode: "Light Fingers"
Joanie Loves Chachi Howard Cunningham Two episodes
1982–1987 The Love Boat Harry 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?"
1984 The Jesse Owens Story Jimmy Hoffa Television film
1984–1988 Murder, She Wrote Sheriff Amos Tupper Recurring role
19 episodes
1985 Finder of Lost Loves Malcolm Beck Episode: "Deadly Silence"
Private Sessions Harry O'Reilly Television film
Glitter Doc Episode: "Rock 'n' Roll Heaven"
1986 Perry Mason: The Case of the Notorious Nun Father Chris DeLeon Television film
1986–1987 Hotel Walter Devlin
Blaine Chapman
"Child's Play"
"Fatal Attraction"
1987 Fatal Confession: A Father Dowling Mystery Father Frank Dowling Television film
The World of David the Gnome David the Gnome (voice) (English version)
1988–1989 Out of This World Grandpa Zelig Two episodes
1989 Fire and Rain Derryl Price Television film
1989–1991 Father Dowling Mysteries Father Frank Dowling Lead role
42 episodes
1990 The Love Boat: A Valentine Voyage Lt. Logan Television film
1992 Hearts Are Wild Sam Fesman Episode: "The Catch"
1993 ABC Weekend Special Carl W. Clemmer Episode: "The Parsley Garden"
1993–2002 Rugrats Strike Maxwell
Dwayne Tickerbacker
"King Ten Pen/Runaway Angelica"
"Murmur on the Ornery Express"
1994 Burke's Law Dr. Blake Episode: "Who Killed Alexander the Great?"
Heaven Help Us Albert Episode: "Lovers Lullaby"
1996 The Drew Carey Show Mr. Bobeck Episode: "Mimi's Day Parade"
Boy Meets World Himself Episode: "I Was a Teenage Spy"
1997 Johnny Bravo Santa Claus (voice) Episode: "'Twas the Night"
1999 Early Edition Uncle Vic Episode: "Just One of Those Things"
Port Charles Burt One episode
Maggie Father George Episode: "Uh-oh Baby"
2000 Jack & Jill Bernie Episode: "Lovers and Other Strangers"
Walker, Texas Ranger Minister Two episodes
2001 Jason and the Heroes of Mount Olympus Jupiter (voice) Main cast
26 episodes
2001 ER Walter Nikolaides Two episodes
Legend of the Candy Cane Franklin Holz (voice) Television film
Family Law Kyle Mason Episode: "Angel's Flight"
2002 Touched by an Angel Elmer Episode: "The Blue Angel"
Mary Christmas Les Turner Television film
2004 It's All Relative Father Joseph Episode: "Fight for Your Invite to Party"
Christmas at Water's Edge Harry Television film
2005 Still Standing Dr. S.T. Bloom Episode: "Still Holding"
The Fallen Ones Rabbi Eli Schmitt Television film
One Tree Hill Mel McFadden Episode: "Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends"
Family Guy Howard Cunningham (voice) Episode: "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Fonz"
2006 Nobody's Watching Tom Bosley Television pilot
Hidden Places Wakefield Television film
That '70s Show Dr. Hammond Episode: "Crazy Little Thing Called Love"
2008 Charlie & Me Charlie Television film
2010 Betsy's Kindergarten Adventures Principal Richard Warner (voice) Episode: "The People in Our Community: Introducing the Police Department"


Year Title Role Notes
1958 The Power and the Glory Villager, Prisoner, Indian Broadway
1959 The Beaux' Stratagem Scrub
Fiorello! Fiorello LaGuardia Broadway
Tony Award
1962 Nowhere to Go But Up Izzy Einstein Broadway
1963 Natural Affection Vince Brinkman
1964 A Murderer Among Us Cabouche
1965 Catch Me If You Can Performer
1968 The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N Hyman Kaplan
1994 Beauty and the Beast Maurice
1996 Show Boat Cap'n Andy national tour
2002 Cabaret Herr Schultz Broadway
2006 On Golden Pond Norman Thayer Jr. national tour

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Nominated work Result
1960 Tony Award Tony Award for Best Featured Actor in a Musical Fiorello La Guardia in Fiorello! Won
1978 Emmy Award Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series Howard Cunningham in Happy Days Nominated


  1. ^ a b 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. ^ a b The Broadway League. "Fiorello! details at". IBDb.com. Retrieved August 31, 2010.
  6. ^
  7. ^ WPIX-TV coverage of "The M*A*C*Y*S 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular", July 4, 1984.
  8. ^ "SMC". Smcorp.com. Archived from the original on June 15, 2006. Retrieved December 22, 2015.
  9. ^ "Leader Of Fraudulent Internet Company And Longtime International Fugitive Pleads Guilty In $13 Million Scheme". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
  10. ^ a b "Tom Bosley, Father on 'Happy Days,' Dies at 83", Associated Press via The New York Times, October 19, 2010.
  11. ^ "Tony-Winning Actor Tom Bosley, Best Known for 'Happy Days', Dies at 83", broadway.com; accessed October 2, 2015.
  12. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. "Happy Days Star Tom Bosley Dead at 83". People. Retrieved October 21, 2016.
  13. ^ Zamost, Scott (April 20, 2011). "'Happy Days' actors claim fraud, money owed for merchandising". CNNMoney.
  14. ^ Gardner, Eriq (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' Actors Win Key Ruling in CBS Lawsuit". The Hollywood Reporter.
  15. ^ Scott, Zamost (June 5, 2012). "'Happy Days' cast members' lawsuit heading for trial". CNN.
  16. ^ Daley, Sean (August 6, 2012). "Chachi done with broke Joanie". New York Post.
  17. ^ Zamost, Scott (July 7, 2012). "'Happy Days' actors settle lawsuit with CBS". CNN.

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