'Happy Days' Star Al Molinaro Dies at 96

Al Molinaro, the basset-hound-faced character actor who was known for playing Al Delvecchio, the harried diner owner on the long-running sitcom “Happy Days” — and who recommended a little-known comic named Robin Williams to portray an alien named Mork on a 1978 episode of the show — died on Friday in Glendale, Calif. He was 96.
His son, Michael Molinaro, confirmed the death.
A big, bluff man with soulful eyes and a vast, wayward nose that seemed to meander in several directions at once, Mr. Molinaro appeared born to play comedy. He was a regular cast member in Seasons 4 through 9 of “Happy Days,” which was broadcast on ABC from 1974 to 1984; left the show to reprise his role in a short-lived spinoff, “Joanie Loves Chachi” (1982-83); and reappeared on “Happy Days” toward the end of its run.
Mr. Molinaro’s survivors include his son; his second wife, Betty Molinaro; and three grandchildren. If Mr. Molinaro’s success in television did not give him a corresponding career in feature films — even those on which Mr. Marshall, his longtime champion, served as executive producer — there was a reason.
“I can’t work in movies with Garry because I’m so square that I won’t be in a movie that has four-letter words in it,” Mr. Molinaro told The Chicago Tribune in 1990. “That puts me pretty much totally out of films these days. Garry had a part for me in the first movie he made” — the 1982 comedy “Young Doctors in Love” — “but I started reading the scene ... and I stopped.
“He said, ‘You can’t do it, can you?’ ” Mr. Molinaro continued.
“I told him, ‘I don’t want to do a movie that I couldn’t watch with my mother if she were still alive.’ ”

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