Friday, October 22, 2010

Tom Bosley, RIP

I suppose he'll always be best known for playing Howard Cunningham, the father on "Happy Days." And I suppose there's nothing bad about that, though "Happy Days" lost me after Fonzie took over the show and the studio audiences began going crazy over everything he did.

And because Mr. Bosley seemed like a pleasant fellow, I had nothing against him making more money playing Father Dowling, even if I don't remember sitting through an entire episode of that show.

But I prefer to remember his more interesting roles.

Coincidentally, the night before I heard of his death, I saw watched him in an episode of "Route 66," doing a nicely shaded job as a sleazy, small-town businessman (with a mustache yet -- an adornment that made him look a little like William Conrad). The episode's characters also included a doctor, a small part featuring a young actor who didn't make much of an impression on me until the credits revealed he was Alan Alda, a light year or two away from Hawkeye. You can watch that episode here.

And I've always remembered him as Sidney Resnick, the hapless, hopeless, desperate guy who sells his eyesight to a rich, blind woman played by Joan Crawford in the pilot movie for "Night Gallery," written, of course, by Rod Serling. (The segment, one of several in the film, was directed by Steven Spielberg.)

He was, I suppose, among the last of an endangered species known as The Character Actor -- the kind of performer who never gets the girl (or guy) but who often captures the audience's affection (though they might not remember the name), along with a deservedly steady paycheck.

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