‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96

Al Molinaro Dead
Courtesy of Paramount

Al Molinaro, who played the beloved chef on “Happy Days,” died on Thursday. He was 96.

Molinaro portrayed Big Al Delvecchio, the owner of Arnold’s drive-in, in the classic TV series. He also appeared in the “Happy Days” spinoff “Joani Loves Chachi.”

His son, Michael, confirmed the actor’s death to TMZ and said that Molinaro suffered from bad gall stones.

Younger audiences may recognize Molinaro as Al from Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” music video, which was set in the “Happy Days” drive-in and featured edited footage of Fonzie (Henry Winkler) dancing with girls.

Born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Molinaro also appeared in “The Odd Couple,” “Punky Brewster” and “Step by Step.”

He is survived by his wife, Betty and his son Michael.

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  1. suzanne donald says:

    rip al happy days great tv show when I was growing up condolences to his wife and son

  2. chipswun29 says:

    RIP and thank you.

  3. Jamie Ireland says:

    Happy Days was a huge part of my life growing up. Al will forever have a special place in my heart.

  4. Lyn says:

    To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. So be comforted in knowing that right now he could be in no better company, fot he is with our blessed Lord Jesus Christ. No longer in pain. Thoughts n prayers to the family and friends.

  5. Kimberly Delgado says:

    Rip Al. He lived three houses down from me in Granada Hills in the seventies, he was such a nice man. My condolences for his wife and children :'(

  6. Shawn Kerkes says:

    This contributes to the proof that nice guys don’t necessarily finish last. Al was a nice guy who succeeded in two tough industries, real estate and television. He made millions of people happy.

  7. Agdg hga ha; says:

    ..(E)..~ my best friend’s step-mother makes $81 /hr on the laptop . She has been out of work for 6 months but last month her pay check was $14841 just working on the laptop for a few hours. have a peek at this website ►œ►œ►►►œ►œ►œ Go.To.The Page

  8. Alex says:

    He made million laugh so I’m sure he went straight to haven.

  9. Robert Gzyl says:

    Loved you as Murray the cop on THE ODD COUPLE and as AL ON HAPPY DAYS R.I.P

  10. Cathy says:

    RIP Mr. Molinaro! I loved you on Happy Days! May you continue the laughs in Heaven! You’ll definitely be missed! 😇

  11. BillUSA says:

    God bless you Mr. Molinaro. Thank you for all the laughs oh so long ago in my teens.

  12. trflanigan says:

    the way mr.molinaro played murray on the odd couple was brilliant. there were some many great moments and lines involving his character. some that come to mind was when his character raided the poker game he was playing in or when murray was on special assignment dressed in drag.he fix in so well with that cast.

  13. May God love ya brother!

  14. dolomite363 says:

    The people who post reply comments to spam comments are the real biggest losers

  15. Tracy says:

    Awesome story Phillip!

  16. Improv says:

    Some of the funniest lines were delivered by Mr. Molinaro as Murray the Cop in Odd Couple. RIP

  17. Sad to hear… my thoughts have gone to Mr. Molinaro many times over the years. I had an opportunity to share some encouragement with him back in the day. I was working as a writer’s assistant on a sitcom, “The Family Man”, where Al played the grandfather. It was produced by the same team that produced “Happy Days” and “Laverne and Shirley.”

    I was watching a rehearsal that really wasn’t working (this sitcom recycled many jokes from the other series’), and the director told everyone to take a break. Al walked over to one of the other sets and sat in an empty director’s chair, looking dejected.

    I walked over and asked him what was wrong. Long story short, he said he’d done this series as a favor to the producers, and that it felt awful thinking that this show would be how people would remember him. Having been a fan since he was Murray the Cop on “The Odd Couple”, I encouraged him by telling him that, in a nutshell, he added serious credibility to the show… the show had four kids who had never had a show before, and a lead dramatic actor who had never done comedy before. I then told him that the reason he felt the way he did was because he’d worked with Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, Tom Bosley, Ron Howard and Henry Winkler… some serious acting heavyweights. He was the pillar of the show, and the producers knew it. If it weren’t for Al, there wouldn’t BE a show!

    So the director calls everyone back to rehearse the scene again, but this time there’s fire in Al’s delivery… he’s nailing the comedy beats and timing, and it’s forcing everyone to keep up with him. The director yells cut, and the crew breaks out in applause because they KNEW they’d scene comedy lightning.

    As the crew and actors break, Al walks across the set, sees me and with a grin on his face, points his finger at me and says “YOU DID THIS TO ME!!!” I just smiled because I knew that this would be our secret. Everyone else, of course, wondered “What the heck was that all about?!”

    In my brief time with him, he was truly an actors’ actor… he knew he worked for a living and that it was a team effort. At the time of the above exchange, I don’t think he ever believed that he would be the anchor for a sitcom, because he’d always been the character man.

    He will be sadly missed by this actor.

    • J__T says:

      Both as an actor myself and as someone with an appreciation for what Al Molinaro brought to the shows I saw him in, I thank you.

      Certainly that IS the favor that the producers needed from him on that show, bringing his comic savvy in the sitcom tradition to a cast with none of that experience and raising everybody’s game.

      Rare, in a comments section on the internet, someone with the insight, heart and soul, much less the desire to contribute positively to what’s going on around them by proactively helping someone recognize their potential, reconnect with their gift, and be the best they can be for themselves and all involved. That’s what life is about. The ripples from that conversation twenty-odd years ago continue, and have brightened my night. Namaste.

    • Brad says:

      Phillip, your comments are fantastic, thanks for this personal story about this charming man.

    • Mark Casadei says:

      Phillip, that was awesome!! Thanks for sharing that!

  18. sheldon says:

    he was a good man

  19. Rosa Coletti must be devestated….yup, yup,…yup….

  20. Truth Teller says:

    I’m glad he lived a good long life. I lovable guy captured forever on a classic TV show.
    Thanks for the memories. RIP

  21. fred mertz says:

    And now we’re back to the douchbag commenters.

  22. dolomite363 says:

    The people who reply to these comments are the real idiots

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