Happy Days star Ron Howard has stepped forward to talk about an issue he had with the direction of the show. During an interview on The Graham Norton Show on November 12th, the former child star turned highly acclaimed director spoke with the British host about how Fonzie stole the show.
“It was a really interesting kind of paradoxical situation because the show began and the Richie Cunningham character was the undeniable lead of the show,” Howard said.
“When we would go out of the road to promote the show, it was just insane, focused on Fonzie, clearly that was very exciting,” he explained. “Except the executives, studio heads, network heads, you know, they started treating me with a lot of disrespect from a business standpoint [and] in terms of interaction.”
“The press kept saying ‘What’s it like? Do you feel like you’ve become a secondhand citizen on your own show?'” Howard continued.
The actor was quick to add that the issue with the show did not effect his relationship with his co-star, Henry Winkler, who played Fonzie.
“I certainly didn’t feel it within our friendship, which endures to this day,” Howard explained. “He’s the godfather of all four of my kids.”
He credits the show and the studio’s treatment of him as an actor as his inspiration for becoming a director.
“More than anything, it reminded me…to pursue my own dream, which was to be in charge of productions, the stories I wanted to tell and be the filmmaker,” Howard said.
The actor left Happy Days at the end of its seventh season, which shifted the show’s focus even more towards Fonzie, whose character became a teacher and a family man. Richie Cunningham did return to the show for a two-part reunion event in season 11 entitled “Welcome Home,” but the show had become fully focused on Fonzie by then.
Watch the Graham Norton interview here: