Al Molinaro (1919-2015)

Al Molinaro, the actor known best for playing diner owner Al Delvecchio on TV's "Happy Days," died Friday of gall stone complications. He was 96.

A native of Kenosha, Wisconsin – just 40 miles from the "Happy Days" setting of Milwaukee – Molinaro was born June 24, 1919. He moved to California in the 1950s but didn't begin working as an actor for years. It was 1969 when he had his first role, a guest spot on TV's "Get Smart."

The following year, Molinaro took on his first major role, playing Murray the Cop on TV's "The Odd Couple." The supporting character appeared in many of the episodes throughout the series' entire five-season run, and the role put Molinaro in the spotlight for his next project, "Happy Days."

Molinaro joined the 1950s-throwback sitcom in its fourth season, replacing Pat Morita as the owner of Arnold's Diner. He was part of "Happy Days" for seasons four through nine, also playing his character's twin brother, the Rev. Anthony Delvecchio. When spinoff "Joanie Loves Chachi" premiered in 1982, Molinaro went with it, playing the same character, who was now the stepfather of main character Chachi. The spinoff was short-lived, canceled after two seasons, and Molinaro occasionally appeared on "Happy Days" in the seasons that followed the cancellation of "Joanie Loves Chachi."


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In later years, Molinaro returned to television on the 1990 sitcom "The Family Man," which lasted a single season. He played occasional guest roles on other shows and appeared in the movies "Freaky Friday" (1976) and "The Great American Traffic Jam." He had roles in commercials and notably played Al Delvecchio one more time, in the video for Weezer's 1994 hit "Buddy Holly."

Molinaro is survived by his wife, Betty Farrell, and his son, Michael.

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