Old School Americana & Nostalgia


‘Happy Days’ Marion Ross Turns 95: Her Biggest Roles Outside of Mrs. Cunningham

‘Happy Days’ Marion Ross Turns 95: Her Biggest Roles Outside of Mrs. Cunningham

Marion Ross was the mother to a generation of classic TV fans as Mrs. Cunningham on eleven seasons of Happy Days. She recently celebrated her 95th birthday on October 25, 2023, and has quite a career to look back on.

The actress embarked on her illustrious career 70 years ago, in 1953, with her debut in the film Forever Female. She appeared alongside the film icons Ginger Rogers and William Holden. Also in 1953, she made her TV debut as an Irish maid in the series Life with Father. The following year, she gave a standout performance as Ginny Thorpe in The Lone Ranger.

From there, Marion Ross appeared on the silver screen with some of the biggest stars of the era, including Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Kirk Douglas, and Clark Gable.

However, it was the 70’s sitcom Happy Days that made Ross a household name. She appeared alongside future superstar Henry Winkler aka The Fonz and Ron Howard who played her son, Richie. When Howard made his directorial debut with 1977’s Grand Theft Auto, Ross played the supporting role of Vivian Hedgeworth.

Following the conclusion of Happy Days in 1984, she went on to establish a recurring role on The Love Boat and garnered praise for her performance in the highly regarded comedy series Brooklyn Bridge.

Marion Ross Returned to Sitcoms in the 90s

Marion Ross returned to the world of sitcoms in the 90s. She had recurring roles on both The Drew Carey Show and That ’70s Show. She also had a memorable turn on fan-favorite rom-com, The Gilmore Girls.

However, another generation of fans know Ross for her voice work. Her most high-profile role in the world of voice acting was when she lent her voice to SpongeBob SquarePants’s grandmother. She also recently appeared in The Guardians of the Galaxy animated series.

Ross was last seen in the series Viral Vignettes in 2021. She appeared alongside her former Happy Days costar Don Most on the show.

Having recently celebrated her 95th birthday, Ross is enjoying a well-deserved retirement. The Minnesota native, a mother of two, is known for her elusive nature and infrequent public appearances. The last time she graced the red carpet was in 2019 when she joined her former sitcom co-stars for a memorable reunion at the Garry Marshall Theatre’s Founder’s Gala in Los Angeles. Marshall, creator of Happy Days and spin-offs like Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy, died in 2016 at 81.

Ross has been married twice. Her first marriage was to Freeman Meskimen in 1951, ending in divorce in 1969. She entered her second marriage with Paul Michael in 1988. He passed away in 2011.