‘Happy Days’ Stars Accuse CBS of Fraud, Threaten Lawsuit

Apr 19, 2011  •  Post A Comment

Four of the stars of the hit 1970s comedy "Happy Days," along with the estate of the late Tom Bosley, are expected to file a lawsuit against CBS to get their share of profits the company has made in merchandising the show and their images, reports CNN.com.

"The issue is the five cast members of ‘Happy Days’ were not paid for the royalties for their name and likeness," said attorney Jon Pfeiffer, who represents Donny Most, Erin Moran, Marion Ross and Anson Williams, as well as the Bosley estate.

In a statement to CNN, CBS said, "We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue." The network claims it owes less than $10,000 to each of the stars. The actors estimate the figure is in the millions for each of them.

The chief merchandising item that the stars are focused on is slot machines that use their images. Mollie Cole, director of communications for WMS Gaming, said of the slot machines, "’Happy Days’ is a five-level Free Spin Progressive slot machine, where the number of spins increases during play, with three base games–Cunninghams Go Wild, The Fonz and Richie’s Big Night; the latter was a big hit in casinos."

“Happy Days” aired on ABC from 1974-1984, but rights to it have since transferred to CBS. It “jumped the shark”–literally–in September 1977, when Fonzie, played by Henry Winkler, water-skied over a shark in a stunt that gave rise to the popular expression “jumping the shark” as a reference to a TV show beginning its decline in quality. The phrase has since been given broader meaning in popular culture.

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