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Tom Bosley, 'Happy Days' TV Dad

Matt Schudel

Tom Bosley, 83, a Tony Award-winning stage actor who enjoyed a long career on television, notably as the wry Cunningham patriarchon "Happy Days," a small-town sherriff on "Murder, She Wrote" and a crime-hunting priest on "The Father Dowling Mysteries," died Oct. 19 at a hospital near his home in Palm Springs, Calif. He had lung cancer.

A soft-featured man, Mr. Bosley cultivated an avuncular public persona in his best-known roles. But if there seemed an additional poignancy to Mr. Bosley's absence, it was likely because his death followed three days after that of Barbara Billingsley, who played the wholesome mother of the Cleaver clan on "Leave it to Beaver."

If Billingsley helped define the 1950s family sitcom, and in a sense the cultural ideal of American suburban motherhood, Mr. Bosley did the same for middle-American fatherhood in "Happy Days," which was set in Milwaukee in the 1950s and aired from 1974 to 1984 on ABC.

By Matt Schudel  | October 19, 2010; 2:23 PM ET
Categories:  Actors, actresses, Adam Bernstein  
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Next: Penthouse founder Bob Guccione dies at 79


Tom Bosley played a great character in Love With the Proper Stranger, longing to marry Natalie Wood and being a proper mensch. He seemed to be that way in real life, too, except there he did get to marry the pretty girl.

Posted by: Georgetowner1 | October 19, 2010 5:13 PM | Report abuse

In perusing his Wikipedia entry, I had forgotten that Bosley played the title role in the original Broadway production of "Fiorello!" He won a Tony for that role.

Posted by: bucinka8 | October 20, 2010 11:01 AM | Report abuse

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