Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Podcast Tuesday: "Al by Himself"

Al Molinaro on Happy Days.

Al as Murray the Cop.
It is now time to sing the praises of Al Molinaro (1919-2015). With his soulful eyes and drooping nose, this lovable character actor from Kenosha, Wisconsin became familiar to generations of TV viewers due to his roles as Murray the cop on The Odd Couple and Al Delvecchio, proprietor of Arnold's, on Happy Days. These two characters are essentially the same: sweet, befuddled, naïve, and more than a little gullible. Hey, sometimes it pays to specialize.

Molinaro didn't actually join the cast of Happy Days until the fourth season in 1976, when he stepped in to replace the departing Pat Morita. When Al finally debuted, it was as part of the bonkers "Fonzie Loves Pinky" three-parter -- you know, the episodes with Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) and the Malachi Crunch. Somehow, even amid all that chaos, Al managed to stand out. Molinaro stayed with the show off and on until the end of its run in 1984, though he was temporarily furloughed to the Joanie Loves Chachi spinoff. Rest assured, Al Molinaro is part of the series finale, "Passage (Part 2)." He also appeared as his Happy Days character in the 1994 Weezer video "Buddy Holly," directed by Spike Jonze. 

Acting had been a dream deferred for Molinaro, who wasn't able to pursue the profession he loved full-time until he was financially independent from real estate. Eventually, in the 1960s, he started landing guest roles on show like Bewitched and Green Acres. Actress Penny Marshall introduced Al to her brother, TV producer Garry Marshall. That led to the roles on The Odd Couple and Happy Days. The rest, as they say...

This week on These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast, we talk about "Second Wind." First airing in May 1978 as part of Happy Days' fifth season, this was the first episode to focus on the character of Al Delvecchio. Is this episode worthy of him? Find out by listening to our latest episode.