Sunday, Monday, Happy Days ... oh how excited I used to get to hear that catchy little jingle and watch the crazy antics of the Cunningham family and the cool Fonz on my non-flat screen, remote-less television as a child. The last time I was in Vegas, I think I even plugged a slot machine bearing their image a few times out of nostalgia. I lost my quarters, but turns out the actors whose faces drew me in may have been losing a whole lot more than that.
Four of the show's actors -- Marion Ross (Mrs. C.), Anson Williams (Potsie), Donny Most (Ralph Malph), and Erin Moran (Joanie) -- plus the estate of the late Tom Bosley are suing CBS for millions of dollars they believe they're due because the network hasn't properly honored a contract regulating use of their likenesses on everything from greeting cards to coffee mugs. They say they didn't even know their images were on Vegas machines. Ross told CNN:
... the other day someone came up to me and said, "You must be cleaning up on those casinos." And I said, "Well, what are you talking about?" And he said, "If you get five Marions, you get the jackpot."
That just seems "wrongamundo," as Fonzie would say. Speaking of which, he (Henry Winkler) and Ron Howard aren't involved in the lawsuit. Why isn't clear. Perhaps they don't need the money? Some of the others definitely do as Moran recently lost her home to foreclosure.
CBS says it only owes the actors between $8,500-9,000 for each of the four years since the machines were introduced. Why, though, do they owe them anything? Shouldn't they have been paying up without a lawsuit?
I'm no lawyer, but if Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham and the crew are owed money, then they damn well should get it. They entertained America for years with their apple-pie antics, and CBS should just "sit on it" ... and pay up. As Williams told CNN:
[The show] represented to the public what the best of America has to offer. The friendships, the opportunities, the warmth. Unfortunately now Happy Days also represents the worst of America -- of what major companies are trying to get from it, trying to use it for, and forgetting the family it created.
Now all this Happy Days talk has me yearning to see the gang hang out at Arnold's and watch them try to get some girls up to Inspiration Point. I think I'll go search out some reruns, which I certainly hope they're getting paid for properly.
Were you a fan of Happy Days? Do you think it sounds like the actors should get the money they are demanding?
Image via amazon.com