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'Happy Days' actor Tom Bosley dies at 83

October 19, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Tom-bosley-backup-plan

First June Cleaver, and now Howard Cunningham -- it's been a sad stretch for fans of the iconic American sitcom family.

Happy-days-bosley Tom Bosley, the actor best known as the "Happy Days" patriarch, died of heart failure Tuesday at a hospital near his Palm Springs home, his agent said. Bosley, 83, had fought a brief battle with lung cancer.

"My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life," Ron Howard said in a statement. Howard, of course, played Mr. C's son Richie before donning his director's hat. "I miss him already."

Henry Winkler, a.k.a Arthur Fonzarelli, told E! News, "We were a make-believe family for 10 years, and like a real family for over 30," and Scott "Chachi" Baio called Bosley "a professional and funny guy."

TV wife Marion Ross said in a statement, "We made a perfect couple. I played piccolo to his tuba."

Bosley, whose film and TV career ran from 1959 through his appearance in the 2010 Jennifer Lopez movie, "The Back-up Plan," also had notable roles in "Murder, She Wrote" and "The Father Dowling Mysteries."

Barbara Billingsley, the matriarch of the "Leave It to Beaver" Cleaver clan, died on Saturday at age 94.

Services for Bosley will be private.

-- Christie D'Zurilla

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Top photo: Tom Bosley in a scene from the 2010 release "The Back-up Plan." Credit: Peter Iovino / CBS Films 

Second photo: Bosley with, clockwise from his left, Erin Moran, Marion Ross, Henry Winkler and Ron Howard on the set of "Happy Days," which ran from 1974 to 1984. Credit: Paramount Pictures


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