October 19, 2010 / 5:55 PM / in 8 years

Tom Bosley of "Happy Days" dies at 83

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Tom Bosley, whose career spanned five decades and included his role as the father of a typical American family on popular 1970s TV comedy “Happy Days,” has died after a long battle with lung cancer, age 83.

The actor died at his home just outside Palm Springs, California on Tuesday, his family said in a statement.

Bosley’s everyday manner and looks helped him forge a career in Hollywood as a character actor and guest star in a number of popular 1960s television shows such as “Route 66,” “Dr. Kildare,” “Marcus Welby, M.D.” and “Bonanza.”

But it was on the long-running “Happy Days” that he enjoyed his biggest success, playing the father of the show’s central character Richie Cunningham, who was a teenager growing up in the 1950s.

“Happy Days” ran from 1974 to 1984 and was a smash hit series that made Henry Winkler (Fonzie) a major Hollywood star and sparked the adult success of Ron Howard, who played Richie and would later go on to a career as a film director.

Winkler told a local Los Angeles radio station that the cast and crew were “a family” and that Bosley was “one of the dads on set.”

“I spoke to him just a few weeks ago, and he seemed to be getting his strength back and doing really well,” Winkler said.

Howard called him “a great father and husband, and a wonderful artist (who) led by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it.”

When the show ended, Bosley returned to character work on TV with roles in numerous popular series such as “The Love Boat” and “Murder, She Wrote.” He continued working well into the 2000s with parts in series such as “That ‘70s Show.”

Bosley was born in October, 1927, in Chicago and he served in the U.S. Navy during World War Two. He began his career on stage following the war and worked in theater for more than a decade before moving to television.

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Carr, a daughter from his first marriage and her children.

Editing by Jill Serjeant

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