Happy Days was a sitcom staple on ABC after its debut in 1974. Starring Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham) and Henry Winkler (Arthur “Fonzi” Fonzarelli), the comedy show added some cast members to the ensemble in later years. When Scott Baio became a series regular in season 5, his fast-rising popularity soon went to his head.
When did Scott Baio join ‘Happy Days’?
Baio landed the role of Fonzi’s younger cousin, Charles “Chachi” Arcola, in 1977. Just 17 years old at the time, Baio spent a good deal of his younger years on the set of Happy Days. He later commented on the wholesome environment as helping him to avoid the some of the pitfalls early stardom can bring.
“I worked for [Happy Days show creator] Garry Marshall for 10 years,” Baio told Ability Magazine in 2013. “I don’t know what people did at home, but the Happy Days set was relatively clean and it was always fun. … We were happy people, good citizens. I was lucky.”
Quickly achieving heartthrob status on Happy Days, Baio admittedly assumed his newfound fame was all he needed to stay on the show and began slacking off.
“I was very close to getting fired from that show, because I wasn’t doing my job,” Baio told the A.V. Club in 2014. “I thought the screaming audience was enough, and it wasn’t. But because I thought it was, I stopped taking my job seriously. I stopped rehearsing, I stopped performing to my ability, and they were thinking of getting rid of me.”
‘Happy Days’ creator Garry Marshall kept Scott Baio on the show
Baio praised Marshall for being patient with him and letting him stay on Happy Days. He also gave props to his father for providing some tough love.
“Garry said, ‘No, let him get through this,’” the Happy Days alum said of Marshall. “And I did. But I only did because of him and my old man. My old man verbally smacked me around. And deservedly so! Because to have any success in this business is… It’s a privilege. It’s amazing.”
The actor credited Marshall for his career, noting that he wouldn’t have gotten his start without the legendary show creator.
“That’s sort of the whole thing for me, you know?” Baio remarked. “That’s the whole entrée into everything. Everything that I have, everything that I do, extends from that. Garry Marshall created me, basically, and I owe everything to him.”
Scott Baio said ‘Happy Days’ was ‘my school’
The former Happy Days star noted how stardom is now achieved very differently with the rise of influencers and social media.
“There wasn’t YouTube, where you can urinate in the street and you’re famous all of a sudden, for some reason, even though you didn’t do anything to warrant it,” Baio commented. “I don’t understand that. But that’s the way it is.”
Happy Days aired its final episode in 1984 after 11 seasons. Baio considered his experience on the show as a full education.
“To be on Happy Days, where 40 million people a week were watching you, and the country only had about 200 million people in it at the time… that’s a lot,” he said. “So it taught me everything. Everything. It was a learning experience. People were amazing. There were little squabbles here and there, but that’s about it. I mean, God, it was my school.”
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