Tony Award-winning actor Tom Bosley, best known for playing patriarch Howard Cunningham in the TV sitcom Happy Days, died on October 19 at a hospital near his home in Palm Springs, California. The 83-year-old actor had been battling lung cancer and died of heart failure.
Bosley was born in Chicago and made his stage debut in a 1947 production of Our Town while attending DePaul University. After moving to New York, he played the Knave of Hearts in a 1955 telecast of Alice in Wonderland opposite Eva Le Gallienne and made his Broadway debut in 1958’s The Power and the Glory. The actor’s big break came the following year when he was cast as larger-than-life New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the Broadway musical Fiorello!, a performance that earned the 1960 Best Featured Actor Tony Award.
In a stage career that spanned more than 40 years, Bosley appeared on Broadway in The Beaux Stratagem, Nowhere to Go But Up, Natural Affection, A Murderer Among Us, Catch Me If You Can and The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N. Most recently, he created the role of Maurice in the long-running Broadway musical adaptation of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, toured as Cap’n Andy in Harold Prince’s production of Show Boat and played Herr Schultz in the Broadway revival of Cabaret.
Bosley became one of TV's best-loved fictional fathers during his 11-year-run as hardware store owner Howard Cunningham on Happy Days, which debuted in 1974. He later had the recurring role of Sheriff Amos Tupper in Murder, She Wrote and played the title role in the series Father Dowling Mysteries.
The actor is survived by his wife, Patricia Bosley; his brother, Richard Bosley; a daughter, Amy Baer; two stepdaughters, Kimberly diBonaventura and Jamie Van Meter; and seven grandchildren.