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Forgotten ‘Happy Days’ actor remembered in death

Gavan O’Herlihy was the first to play Chuck Cunningham, who disappeared from the show after Season 2.
A "Happy Days" fan watches Gavan O'Herlihy, pictured, portray Chuck Cunningham, a character who disappeared from the series after Season 2.
A "Happy Days" fan watches Gavan O'Herlihy, pictured, portray Chuck Cunningham, a character who disappeared from the series after Season 2. [ BUTCH MAIER | For the Times ]
Published Nov. 14, 2021|Updated Nov. 14, 2021

Actor Gavan O’Herlihy, perhaps best known for being forgotten as Chuck Cunningham on the 1970s sitcom “Happy Days,” has died. He was 70.

Variety reports O’Herlihy’s brother confirmed his sibling died last month in Bathe, England, but gave no cause of death.

O’Herlihy scored numerous roles over the years, including TV appearances on “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “Police Woman” and film parts in “Superman III” and “Never Say Never Again,” but in 1974, he played the brother of central “Happy Days” characters Richie and Joanie Cunningham.

O’Herlihy was replaced as Chuck by Randolph Roberts, and then the character just disappeared from the popular sitcom with no explanation from the show’s writers.

Characters that get erased from programs as if they never existed have since been known as victims of “Chuck Cunningham Syndrome.”

Ron Howard, who played Richie, remembered his long-lost TV brother on Twitter.

“RIP Gavan,” Howard wrote. “I knew him as the 1st of 2 Chucks on #HappyDays & then as Airk in #Willow where I had the pleasure of directing him. A talented actor with a big free spirit.”

IMDB.com shows O’Herlihy played the role of Chuck nine times.

Henry Winkler, who played “Happy Days” character Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli, also paid his respects on social media.

“Rest In Peace .. It was a pleasure sharing the screen with you!!!” Winkler wrote on Twitter. “You walked up the longest staircase this time.”

It had long been joked by the show’s fans that the Chuck Cunningham character ascended the staircase on set that led away from the family room, where most of the action took place, and never came back down.

O’Herlihy, a Dublin, Ireland native, reportedly leaves behind a wife, four sons and three siblings.

- By Brian Niemietz, New York Daily News

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