Could it be? Happy Days debuted 44 years ago? Gerald Ford had just stepped in for President Nixon, Led Zeppelin was putting the finishing touches on “Physical Graffiti” and a little comedy show began on ABC that ruled the Nielsen ratings for the next 10 years. We got to know Richie, Potsie, Ralph Malph, Joanie, Fonzi and the rest of the gang. After The Fonz “Jumped The Shark” the show began to wind down, yet after all these years, it’s still a re-run staple.
Nothing lasts forever and with Erin Moran and Tom Bosley gone, this ’29 pickup will end up outliving the cast.
And now you have a chance to own it. It will cross the block in at Mecum’s Auction in Kissimmee, Florida this weekend. It is estimated to bring $150,000.00.
According to Mecum, “Donny Most, better known perhaps as Ralph Malph in the hit TV series “Happy Days,” was the comedian on the show, always looking to make someone smile or forget their problems.
He was well known for the phrase, “I still got it.” Personalities and vehicles are often linked, and this 1929 Ford Hi-Boy Roadster Pickup that was used in the show as Ralph’s ride certainly stands as a testament to that.
The bright yellow paint, red flames and accoutrements all remind us not to take life so seriously. Powered by a flathead V-8 with short headers and a host of modifications, the truck is the absolute epitome of a vintage hot rod. A very special detail to point out is the dashboard is autographed by members of the cast and crew of the popular show.
The show was initially called “Love and the Television Set,” an unsold story filmed in 1972 starring Ron Howard, Marion Ross and Anson Williams, which was later syndicated under the title “Love and the Happy Days” for the ABC anthology “Love American Style.”
George Lucas, who liked the plot idea, cast Ron Howard in his hit 1973 film “American Graffiti,” which was so popular, ABC took a closer look at the show idea and in January of 1974, debuted “Happy Days.”
The show wasn’t expected to do as well as it did, but the stellar cast and crew integrated various subtle ideas until they had the No. 1 television show in America from 1976-77.
From there, ratings always remained very strong, right up to the very end. The main adjustment to regain audience viewership was broadening the focus from Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) to other characters in the show, namely Richie’s friend, Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), or as he was more popularly known, “The Fonz” or simply “Fonzie.”
The show ended in 1984, sustaining 255 episodes and 10 years of production and popularity, a major milestone in Hollywood speak. Today, the show is still on the air across innumerable channels and in several countries around the world.
Arguably, three vehicles stand out from the show: Howard Cunningham’s (Tom Bosley) Hudson, Fonzie’s Triumph motorcycle and Ralph’s Hi-Boy Pickup. The chance to acquire a memento such as Ralph’s little Hot Rod is something unique. It’s an important piece of television history and something that’s sure to pave the way to a few “Happy Days.”
We dig the authenticity era appropriate build, what a rod would have looked like back then. No millionaires, gigantic automotive aftermarket and $500k budgets required.
The dashboard is signed by many cast members. Significant in it’s absence is the late Erin Moran’s John Hancock. “Joanie’s” passing was bittersweet. As someone who lost a sister last spring–about the same age as Ms. Moran–I can attest how painful it was for America to lose a TV sitcom sister.