Saturday, October 31, 2015

RIP: Actor Al Molinaro Is Dead at 96

Feeling wistful about the the passing of character actor Al Molinaro, whom I adored as Murray (the bumbling cop and poker buddy) on "The Odd Couple" and later graciously accepted as Arnold's replacement, Big Al Delvecchio, as the owner of the drive-in on "Happy Days" as the showed jumped the shark. The cause of death was a complication from gallstones Molinaro had decided not to have surgically removed due to his age, Molinaro’s son told TMZ. Molinaro died in a California hospital. As I read up on Big Al, I discovered some things that even this "Happy Days"/'70s TV in general guy didn't know, via Wikipedia: With season four of "Happy Days," Al Molinaro was added as Al Delvecchio, the new owner of Arnold's, after Pat Morita's character of Arnold moved on after his character got married. Al Molinaro also played Al's twin brother Father Anthony Delvecchio, a Catholic priest. Al eventually married Chachi's mother (played by Ellen Travolta) and Father Delvecchio served in the wedding of Joanie to Chachi in the series finale of that short-lived spin-off. Morita had left "Happy Days" to star in a short-lived sitcom of his own, "Mr. T and Tina" -- which I blogged about HERE and was actually a spin-off of "Welcome Back, Kotter." Morita also starred in a subsequent short-lived "Happy Days" spin-off series titled "Blansky's Beauties" that starred Nancy Walker, fresh from "Macmillan and Wife" and still appearing on "Rhoda," and featured various characters "Happy Days" characters, including Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) and Arnold, only it was set in a different time period (1970s Vegas) and no one acknowledged that they hadn't aged a day. Scott Baio was on it, but rather than playing Chachi, he was the leering, 12-year-old ("going on 28") Anthony DeLuca. Eddie Mekka from "Laverne & Shirley" was also on it, but he played Joey DeLuca, the younger cousin to Carmine Ragusa. 

"Blansky's" also starred Caren Kaye, whom we would all come to envy for starring for tutoring Matt Lattanzi.

Does this ring a bell to anyone?! And RIP, Mur. :-(


James Greenlee said...

It gets even weirder. After Blansky's Beauties was cancelled, it was retooled and moved to NBC, and was called "Legs." Then it was reworked AGAIN as "Who's Watching the Kids," and still had several of the same stars, including Scott Baio and Lynda Goodfriend. Somebody REALLY wanted to make that show work. I have no idea why they kept reusing so many actors on multiple shows in multiple time periods on multiple networks. Sounds like a glitch in the Matrix.

Matthew said...

I was obsessed with BLANKY'S BEAUTIES.

Shy Boy said...

You forgot about his famous Oncor Lasagna commercials.

Sid Terror said...

Happy Days itself was a spinoff from an episode of Love American Style.