Tom Bosley, Father on "Happy Days," Dead at 83

Chicago native also starred in "Father Dowling Mysteries"

By Greg Wilson
|  Thursday, Oct 21, 2010  |  Updated 12:19 PM PDT
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AP

Actor Tom Bosley, who plays Mr. Cunningham on the series "Happy Days", embraces his real-life wife Patricia Carr Bosley, as the TV Mrs. Cunningham. The scene occurred during a break in filming of an upcoming episode, in which Mrs. Cunningham injures herself and Bosley's actress wife Patricia plays a bowling partner Bosley recruits at the last minute, March 21, 1981 in Los Angeles. Bosley and Patricia were married last December; the Cunninghams began married life in series debut in 1974. (AP Photo/Saxon)

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Tom Bosley, who played the kindly patriarch of the Cunningham family on "Happy Days," has died.

The 83-year-old actor died at his home in Palm Springs, Calif., after a long battle against lung cancer, according to his manager

Henry Winkler, who played Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli during the show's decade-long run, said Bosley had a positive impact on the entire cast.

"Since day one of Happy Days, we as a cast have remained so wonderfully connected," Winkler said. "He was our TV dad and a real life father-figure for the past 33 years. He will be sorely missed. And our most positive thoughts go out to the family."

"I'm so saddened by the loss of our wonderful Tom Bosley. Remarkable on so many levels, Tom's insight, talent, strength of character and comic timing made him a vital central figure in the Happy Days experience," said director Ron Howard, who starred as Bosley's son in "Happy Days."

"A great father and husband, and a wonderful artist, Tom lead by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already," Howard said in a statement.

Bosley's death comes just days after the death of another famous television parent, Barbara Billingsley, who played June Cleaver on "Leave it to Beaver."

A sought-after pitch man, Bosley's trustworthy warmth helped sell Glad trash bags, D-Con and Sonic fast food.

Born in Chicago, Bosley served in the Navy during World War II. After his hitch, he attended DePaul University, where he took up acting. In 1947, he debuted on stage in "Our Town" with the Canterbury Players at the Fine Arts Theatre. Two years later, Bosley performed at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois, alongside Paul Newman.

Bosley was an outspoken advocate for people who suffer from depression, and affliction he fought much of his life.

"I want to help people with depression understand that there is hope, so that they can get the help they need to live rich, fulfilling lives," he said.

Most recently, Bosley appeared in the film "The Backup Plan," which starred Jennifer Lopez.

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