TV star Tom Bosley passed away earlier today in his Palm Springs, California home after a brief battle with lung cancer. Earlier reports indicate that the actor was also suffering from a staph infection. Bosley was best known to television audiences as patriarch Howard Cunningham on the long-running ABC sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974 until 1984.
Tom Bosley first made himself known as a stage actor, winning a Tony for his performance as beloved New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia in the 1959 musical Fiorello! He then quickly transitioned into the world of weekly television, where he would make appearances on Car 54, Where Are You?, Route 66, Ben Casey, The Mod Squad, Bonanza, and Get Smart, just to name a few, before becoming a series regular on The Debbie Reynolds Show, appearing as Bob Landers from 1969 to 1970.
It was his many appearances on the anthology series Love, American Style that led him to appearing on that show's spin-off Happy Days. His Howard Cunningham, father to Chuck (Gavan O'Herlihy), Ritchie (Ron Howard), and Joanie (Erin Moran, husband to Marion (Marion Ross), landlord and father-figure to Fonzie (Henry Winkler), and hardware store entrepreneur, would become one of the most iconic parental figures on television in the 1970s, and he remains so today.
After Happy Days ended in 1984, Bosley continued to find work in television, becoming a series regular on Angela Lansbury's Murder, She Wrote starring as Sheriff Amos Tupper. He would even headline his own spin-off of that series entitled Father Dowling Mysteries from 1987 until 1991.
In recent years, Tom made appearances on hit series such as One Tree Hill and That '70s Show. He even reprised his role as Howard Cunningham by lending his voice to Fox's animated hit Family Guy. His last appearance was in the feature film The Back-Up Plan starring opposite Jennifer Lopez.
Tom Bosley is survived by his second wife Patricia Carr. The two were married in 1980, and have a daughter named Amy. Bosley's death comes just a few days after the passing of another iconic TV parent, Leave It to Beaver's Barbara Billingsley.