"Aaaayhh! It's The Fonz and the Happy Days Gang! (bonus points if you caught the animated show reference). Back on this date in 1974, Happy Days, one of the most important shows in television history, made it's debut on ABC. | Get your Happy Days DVD sets here. |
But what are Richie Cunnighman, Potsie Weber, Ralph Malph and Arthur Fonzarelli doing on a hockey blog?
As famously described in Wayne Gretzky's autobiography, Jari Kurri, the great player who arrived from Finland at the age of 19, learned English by watching Happy Days reruns on TV!
I'm trying to picture a young Jari Kurri telling Glen Sather "Correctamundo!" or telling the Calgary Flames' tough guy "Sit on it!" Gretzky wrote that Kurri was "the world's foremost expert on Happy Days" and that "inside Jari's head are 24 hour reruns of Richie Cunningham down at Arnold's."
Ah yes, Arnold's Diner. You younger kids may best remember it as the setting for Weezer's Buddy Holly video. I never understood the name of the hang out. It started out as Pat Morita's gig. You know, the wise old guy from The Karate Kid. While years before that he was Matsuo Takahashi on Happy Days, but the kids called him Arnold.
Morita was only there for the first couple of years, coming back almost a decade later late in the show's tenure. In between the Morita year's Al Molinari was the bumbling cook who may also have been the owner at the time, I'm not completely sure. But I do know he married Chachi's mother, which also made him Fonzie's uncle!
What was Al Molinari's character's name? Al Devlecchio. Actually Al was short for Alfred, not quite hockey's Alex Delvecchio, but pretty close!
So there you have it. Richie Cunningham earned a big assist in Jari Kurri's great career, while Al Delvecchio was Fonzie's uncle.
Happy Days was a classic! (I enjoyed watching syndicated re-runs when I was younger). And now I know that it helped a Hall-of-Famer from Finland learn English!
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