Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Rant #555: "Malph" Birthday
We celebrated icon Lucille Ball's birthday this weekend and in yesterday's entry, but today's birthday celebration is for someone who briefly was a TV icon, who had his 15 minutes of fame and then pretty much faded off the face of the earth.
Anyone growing up in the 1970s probably watched "Happy Days" at one time or another during the decade and into the early 1980s. The show, which began as a brief entry on "Love, American Style" and then graduated to full 30-minute sitcom status, was a 1970s view of what the 1950s were supposedly like.
It was the most popular sitcom of its time, and made major stars out of the actors who were on the show.
Although the show eventually got lost in its own time and place, it was supposed to be about the decade of Ike and Elvis ... and Richie, Potsie, the Fonz and Ralph Malph.
Ralph Malph was the character played by actor Donny Most on the show. Malph was probably the most believable of the main characters. He was the boy next door, with no great physical, mental or athletic attributes. He was never too sure of himself, and pretty much was the fourth wheel to the characters portrayed by Ron Howard, Anson Williams and Henry Winkler.
He told jokes, and told himself that he was a lady's man. But he was the least assured of the characters on the show, the way most of us are when we are teens.
His character didn't last the run of the show, as he was written out when Most wanted to pursue other ventures, although he did come back during the show's final season as a guest star.
Since his height of fame on "Happy Days," Most--most recently known as Don--has been in numerous lesser productions, has done some cartoon voices, and has been talking about doing a film based on the life of LSD guru Timothy Leary for years.
But Most, and his character, seem firmly rooted in the 1970s (or is it the 1950s?), and like several other former TV stars, to the public, he will always be his character. Most is Ralph Malph and there is pretty much nothing he can do about it.
But for the years of the show, he was one of TV's biggest stars, and his legacy can be seen in the "Happy Days" DVDs that are on the market now.
Better to have such a legacy than have none at all, I guess.
Happy birthday, Ralph ... err ... Donny ... Don.
Posted by Larry at 3:56 AM