Friday, May 06, 2011

Seven Questions with Marion Ross from Happy Days; Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of May 9, 2011)

Mother's Day is on Sunday, and to celebrate Mother's Day, The Hub is bringing you a marathon of some of the best episodes featuring America's favorite TV mom, Mrs. Cunningham from the series Happy Days. But Mrs. Cunningham was only a character on the popular series, and behind that character is the award-winning actress Marion Ross, and we recently had the privilege of interviewing Ms. Ross, just in time for this special marathon dedicated to her and her character (which, as I learned in my phone conversation, are very much one and the same). In my interview with Ms. Ross, it became obvious very early in the conversation that she is just as wonderful as the character she played on television decades ago, and that she truly appreciates the legacy that she left by starring in that series and has a deep respect and admiration for her many fans. So, on Sunday, check out the marathon on The Hub, but before you do that, "sit on it" and check out our interview with Marion Ross, better known as Mrs. C.!

"Seven Questions with Marion Ross From Happy Days"

Marion Ross

SitcomsOnline: Tell us how you got the role of Mrs. C. from Happy Days, and when you got the role, did you expect that the series and your role would become such a huge part of pop culture as it has become?
Marion Ross: We certainly didn't. We had no idea. It was wonderful. Not only did it have it's wonderful run, but to have it rerun over and over again. And now, The Hub is airing the series, so children will get the opportunity to see it again. It's just wonderful. People everywhere see me on the street and they recognize me as Mrs. C. right away, and I wouldn't have it any other way. We thought that the series could be successful, but it has taken on a life of it's own, and it is just wonderful!

SitcomsOnline: When a lot of people hear your name or see you, they immediately begin to think of Mrs. C. from Happy Days. So in what ways are you like (or not like) Mrs. C. in real life?
Marion Ross: It doesn't bother me that they think of me as Mrs. C., but if you think about it, we all need a handle. They don't think about your whole career and everything that you stand for. Of course, I am pretty much like that. When the guys like a series, they start to like you. It's a really great feeling. I'm not so sure how I'm like or not like her, but I really do enjoy being known to people, especially these guys that I meet out on the street who instantly recognize me as Mrs. C. and they admire and respect the character, and me for that matter.

SitcomsOnline: What were some of your favorite moments from Happy Days? Were there ever any things that you just hated doing for any reason?
Marion Ross: We have one where I'm trying to revive our marriage, and I come down in this outfit and I'm not sure if I can do this. But it is like children at play, and mostly a lot of fun. Sometimes we'd get into fights like a real family, but we'd get along. Garry Marshall, our producer, knew that we didn't want to do certain things and we'd get into little spats but we'd always just end up doing whatever he wanted us to do anyway. You'll see one of those episodes Sunday on The Hub, the "Dance Contest" episode where I take tango lessons from the Fonz. I wasn't so sure about it, but it turned out great.

SitcomsOnline: Happy Days is one of the few sitcoms from that era where many of the younger actors went on to continued success in life. How often do you interact with those whom you played the TV mom to?
Marion Ross: The Fonz (Henry Winkler) is in Boston starring in a movie called Here Comes the Boom with Kevin James. They're kind of off doing their own things and they're pretty successful at it. It's great to know that I was such a great mom to them and raised them so well! (laughs)

SitcomsOnline: Here's a question that the TV conspiracy theorists all over the world really want an answer to: what happened to Chuck Cunningham? Or is that a secret that even his own TV mother isn't allowed to have the answer to?
Marion Ross: (laughs) Gosh, I feel so bad about that! We had multiple Chucks, and none of them just seemed to work with the cast. It was a running gag on the set that we'd always say "there's Chuck!" at the most unusual times. One time, we were shooting in Malibu, pretending it was Hawaii, and Tom Bosley said "look over there, it's Chuck!" You know, I really ought to make up with some big story about what happened to Chuck just to have a story to tell and impress people, but there really isn't one.

SitcomsOnline: You've had roles on television going back to some of the earliest days and continue to do roles today, so as TV has evolved, what changes do you think have been positive? And which ones have been not-so-positive?
Marion Ross: Our whole culture has changed really, and I really liked the older culture more. I don't really think that TV has changed so much, but it is more of the culture as a whole. Just the other day, I saw a little girl outside playing a game on a cell phone and I just wondered why don't her parents come to play with her? We've gotten so much into our iPods and everything these days that we just don't take time to relax.

SitcomsOnline: Would you be interested in taking on a regular or recurring role on a TV series these days? Is there any type of character that you have never played on television that you would like to play?
Marion Ross: I would, especially if it was if it was like films and I could work two days or so and be done with it. TV is a lot of work, but in movie roles, you can just work a few days and be done. I've done a few roles like on Brothers & Sisters as the mother of Sally Field's character but that is done with, they killed her off. Then there was Nurse Jackie, which I loved doing, where I played a dementia patient. I have done quite a few roles that are different from who I am, such as a show called Brooklyn Bridge, where I played a Jewish character living in New York City. It was created by Gary David Goldberg, who also created Family Ties, and it won numerous awards but it only ended up lasting a few seasons. Next year though, I'll be on stage in Toronto in the starring role of Neil Simon's Lost in Yonkers, where I'll get to play another Jewish character from New York, so that should be interesting.

Ms. Ross had quite a bit more to say that we couldn't quite fit in our scope of our "seven questions" format, and we love her for the additional contributions that she made. In regards to her other work on TV, she talked quite a bit about her role as the grandmother on the Fox series That '70s Show, where she played a role that was very much different from the role that she played on Happy Days. In fact, she described the role as a "chain-smoking grandmother with bowel problems." As she mentioned in the interview, she very much enjoys playing in these roles that are a lot different from the role that most people associate her with, but she certainly doesn't mind being known as Mrs. C. Also, in regards to the "disappearing Chuck" on Happy Days, she brought up the fact that Chuck definitely wasn't the only kid who disappeared, but Richie Cunningham also disappeared in the later seasons. Of course, any Happy Days fan knows that, but what they may not realize is the extremes that they had to go through to avoid using the on-screen likeness of Ron Howard. She mentioned that after he left the series, his new contract prohibited the Happy Days producers from showing him on-screen in any way, meaning that the most that they could do is talk to Richie on the telephone. Even photos of Ron Howard that could potentially appear on camera couldn't be shown!

We deeply appreciate Ms. Ross for giving us the time and opportunity to interview her, and for continuing to entertain generations of viewers through reruns of Happy Days and her continuing work on the big screen, the small screen, and on stage! Don't forget to catch the "Mom-a-thon," airing 6:00 PM to 12:00 AM ET on Sunday, May 8, on The Hub. You can catch the following episodes of TV's favorite mom:

6:00PM "Dance Contest" - Mrs. Cunningham secretly takes tango lessons from the Fonz.
6:30PM "Marion Rebels" - Mrs. Cunningham takes a job as a waitress at Arnold's to escape her routine.
7:00PM "Marion: Fairy Godmother" - Ralph and Leather are transformed into a fashionable couple for the ROTC Ball.
7:30PM "Marion Goes to Jail" - Marion lands herself in jail when her car crashes through Al's drive-in.
8:00PM "Empty Nest" - Joanie has left the Cunningham house, Marion looks to find ways to cope and occupy her time.
8:30PM "So How Was Your Weekend" - Marion's finicky mother causes rift when she visits the Cunninghams.


It's Friday, so it is time for "Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows" for the coming week. This is where we list what sitcom stars are appearing on talk shows for the coming week, the stars are both current and past sitcom stars (but we won't cover movie stars like Tom Hanks or John Travolta, since they won't be talking about their past sitcoms likely), so this is for all sitcom fans of all eras!
For the week of May 9-13, 2011, we have many current sitcom stars and past sitcom stars on TV talk shows! So get your DVR's (or whatever you use) ready! Ready? Here is all what you need to know for the coming week!

Monday, May 9, 2011
  • Josh Gad (Back to You) - Watch Josh on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
  • Adrian Grenier (Entourage) - Catch Adrian on Lopez Tonight at 12am on TBS.
  • Sinbad (The Sinbad Show/A Different World) - Sinbad drops by Lopez Tonight at 12am on TBS.
  • David Spade (Rules of Engagement/8 Simple Rules/Just Shoot Me) - David visits The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check listings for time and channel.
  • Tracy Pollan (Family Ties) - Tracy appears on The Gayle King Show at 10am on OWN.
  • Marlo Thomas (That Girl) - Marlo talks with Kathie Lee and Hoda on Today on NBC at 10am.
  • Will Ferrell (The Office) - Will stops by Chelsea Lately on E! at 11pm.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
  • Paul Reiser (The Paul Reiser Show/Mad About You/My Two Dads) - Watch Paul on The Gayle King Show at 10am on OWN.
  • Yvette Nicole Brown (Community) - Catch Yvette on The Nate Berkus Show, so check local listings.
  • Candace Cameron Bure (Full House) - Candace guest hosts on The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Will Ferrell (The Office) - Will continues to make the rounds on Comedy Central's The Daily Show with Jon Stewart at 11pm.
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
  • Dick Van Dyke (The Dick Van Dyke Show) - The legendary Mr. Van Dyke visits The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC. His book My Lucky Life In and Out of Show Business: A Memoir is now available.
  • Patricia Heaton (The Middle/Back to You/Everybody Loves Raymond) - Watch Patricia Good Morning America on ABC between 7-9am and later on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your listings.
  • Grizz Chapman (30 Rock) - Catch Grizz on The Mo'nique Show at 11pm on BET.
Thursday, May 12, 2011
  • Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory) - Catch the hilarious Jim on The Late Show with David Letterman at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Norm Macdonald (The Norm Show) - Watch Norm on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick stops by Late Night with Jimmy Fallon at 12:37am on NBC.
  • Betty White (Hot in Cleveland/The Golden Girls/The Mary Tyler Moore Show) - Betty is the guest on Tavis Smiley on PBS, but check listings for time.
  • Will Ferrell (The Office) - Will talks about The Office on Today on NBC between 7-9am.
Friday, May 13, 2011
  • Paul Reiser (The Paul Reiser Show/Mad About You/My Two Dads) - Paul drops by the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly) - Melissa and the cast of Bridesmaides visit the ladies of The View on ABC at 11am ET/10am CT-PT. She will later appear on Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson at 12:37am on CBS. Bridesmaids opens in theaters on May 13.
  • Tina Fey (30 Rock) - The funny lady Tina chats on The Gayle King Show at 10am on OWN.
  • Will Ferrell (The Office) - Will concludes his appearances this week on LIVE! with Regis & Kelly, so check your listings.

Leave us comments on our message board or Tweet/Facebook us to let us know what you think of this Friday feature! We do listen!


New on DVD/Blu-ray (June/July/August)

Father Knows Best - Season Six Diff'rent Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season Alice - The Complete Fifth Season Rhoda - Season Four Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four

06/13 - The Andy Griffith Show - Return to Mayberry
06/13 - That's My Mama - The Complete Series
06/20 - Workaholics - The Final (Seventh) Season
06/20 - Workaholics - The Complete Series
06/27 - The Jamie Foxx Show - The Complete Third Season
07/04 - Superstore - Season Two
07/18 - Father Knows Best - Season Six
07/25 - Diff'ernt Strokes - The Complete Sixth Season
07/25 - Girls - The Final (Sixth) Season (Blu-ray)
08/01 - Alice - The Complete Fifth Season (WBShop.com)
08/01 - Crashing - The Complete First Season (Blu-ray)
08/15 - Rhoda - Season Four
08/22 - Brooklyn Nine-Nine - Season Four
08/29 - Will & Grace - Season One (Universal)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, August 18

Raven's Home - "You're Gonna Get It" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
When Nia sneaks to school wearing makeup against Raven's wishes, she draws the attention of the eighth grade girls who invite her to hang out.

K.C. Undercover - "The Storm Maker" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
K.C. is tasked with tracking down a dangerous weather-controlling device on the same night as her homecoming dance.

Bizaardvark - "Frankie's Cheating Teacher" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
An attempt to get Frankie's dad back into the dating scene goes horribly wrong when he snags a date with Frankie's English teacher.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of August 14)

Friday, August 18

  • T.J. Miller (Silicon Valley/The Goodwin Games/Carpoolers) - Watch T.J. on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Billy Eichner (Difficult People) - Billy is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Jane Krakowski (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt/30 Rock) - Jane appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Jeff Garlin (The Goldbergs/Curb Your Enthusiasm) - Jeff visits LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Jussie Smollett (On Our Own) - Jussie is a guest on a repeat of The Wendy Williams Show at 2am on BET or on your local stations.
  • Randall Park (Fresh Off the Boat) - Randall appears on a repeat of Harry, so check your local listings.
  • Kristen Bell (The Good Place) - Kristen is a guest on a repeat of The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Jason Jones (The Detour) - Jason appears on a repeat of Rachael Ray, so check your local listings.
  • Brandy (Moesha/The Game/Thea) - Brandy talks about Broadway's Chicago on New York Live on WNBC in New York at 11:30am ET.
  • Demi Lovato (Sonny with a Chance) - Demi performs on ABC's Good Morning America sometime between 7-9am.
  • Nat Wolff (The Naked Brothers Band) - Nat talks about Leap and Home Again on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Geena Davis (Buffalo Bill/The Geena Davis Show) - Geena talks about Marjorie Prime on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.