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Subject: Re: ‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96 Sat Oct 31, 2015 1:01 pm
Published on Oct 30, 2015 Albert Francis "Al" Molinaro (June 24, 1919 – October 29, 2015) was an American actor in television and films, most notably as Al Delvecchio, the owner of Arnold's on Happy Days and its spin-off show Joanie Loves Chachi, Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple television series, as well as starring in commercials for On-Cor frozen dinners and with former NFL defensive lineman William "The Refrigerator" Perry for Mr. Big toilet paper. He also starred in a 1982 situation comedy called The Ugily Family, about an unsightly Italian family whose last name is constantly mispronounced as "ugly". Molinaro was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. His boyhood home was 2417 53rd Street in Kenosha's "Old West Side" neighborhood. His parents were Italian immigrants and his father, in addition to being a prominent tavern/restaurant/hotel owner, was also considered a community "don", but not in the popular media sense of the word. Rather, Molinaro's father was a widely known leader of the Kenosha Italian community - someone who sponsored hundreds of Italians in their effort to immigrate to the United States. One of ten children, his brother Joseph was Kenosha County's longest-serving district attorney (having retired as a municipal judge) and another (George) was a longtime state representative and Speaker of the Wisconsin Legislature. Al moved to California in the early 1950s and worked odd jobs, finally saving enough money to start his own collection agency. He eventually sold his business and became interested in southern California real estate speculation. His investments paid off when one of his properties was purchased by a conglomerate which used the land to build one of the largest retail shopping malls of its day. As a result, Molinaro was already financially independent when he decided to pursue his longtime dream of being an actor. He began his role as Officer Murray Greshler on The Odd Couple by poking his nose through the peephole doorway of Oscar and Felix's apartment, prior to walking in. His nose, by itself, got so many laughs it changed the flow of the scene. Murray was an instant hit with fans, and Molinaro became an "overnight success" after years of struggling in the entertainment business. The Odd Couple was produced by Garry Marshall and Mr. Molinaro became a staple of Marshall's shows, including Happy Days, where he replaced Pat Morita as the owner of Arnold's and the short-lived Joanie Loves Chachi. About his Hollywood career: "I spent twenty years here before I got anything going, and from that I got lucky. It takes a lot of luck in show business. You've just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time." On his hometown of Kenosha: "I love that town; I love it. If it wasn't that I left it for show business, I'd still be there today." In 1987, Molinaro and fellow Happy Days cast member Anson Williams opened a chain of diners called Big Al's. In 1992, at age 73, he retired from acting in film and television but continued to appear in TV commercials until the early 2000s. He appeared in 42 On-Cor commercials between 1987 and 2003. Molinaro appeared in Weezer's music video for the 1994 song "Buddy Holly", which was set in Arnold's diner. He introduced the band as "Kenosha, Wisconsin's own Weezer." In 2004, Molinaro announced plans to write a book about his childhood in Kenosha and his acting experiences. In 2005, he did not appear in the Happy Days Reunion which aired on ABC. Molinaro was a popular guest on the Don and Mike Show, a nationally syndicated radio show in Washington D.C. which aired from 1985 until April 2008. Molinaro died in a Kenosha, Wisconsin, hospital on October 29, 2015, at the age of 96. He is survived by his second wife, Betty Farrell, and his son Michael, an attorney in Los Angeles. He lived in Glendale, California.
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Subject: Re: ‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96 Mon Nov 02, 2015 3:45 pm
I was going to Riverside City College and working part time in the Jewelry Business. He stopped by on his way to Palm Springs and I waited on him. He was doing the Odd Couple at the time and answered a lot of questions about Tony Randall and Jack Klugman. Just a real down to earth guy.......
Oddly enough, I met Klugman a couple of years later under the same circumstances in Escondido, Ca. He was the same. Really a nice guy. It was odd to see him shopping in the "Clearance" section of the store.
I was fortunate in California to meet a lot of them. I worked in Los Angeles, San Diego and Palm Springs.
"Albert, do you REALLY think you are old enough to know what love is?" "I must be Pa. I love you, I have for a long time."
Subject: Re: ‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96 Wed Nov 04, 2015 6:39 pm
It was so sad to hear this. I loved Al's character on Happy Days, he was very funny and in every episode of the show I've seen that he was in, he was always doing something to make someone laugh. He will be missed.
Subject: Re: ‘Happy Days’ Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96 Today at 11:51 pm