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Happy Days’ actor Al Molinaro dies at 96

(Left) Al Molinaro. Photo:  theguardian

(Left) Al Molinaro. Photo: theguardian

Al Molinaro, known for playing “Big Al” Delvecchio on the hit US sitcom “Happy Days,” died Friday, reports said. He was 96.

Molinaro passed away in a California hospital from complications of a gall bladder infection, his son Michael told the Los Angeles Times.

Molinaro played the owner of the 1950s Arnold’s Drive-In on the popular TV show “Happy Days,” which ran from 1974 to 1984.

It was here that the main characters would gather — including leather-jacketed bad boy Arthur “The Fonz” Fonzarelli, played by Henry Winkler, and the clean-cut Richie Cunningham, depicted by Ron Howard.

Molinaro played Delvecchio in more than a 100 episodes, according to the LA Times, which quoted him as saying: “When you live with a character as long as I have, you know how he would talk in almost any situation.”

Molinaro also starred in the “Happy Days” spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi,” as well as in “The Odd Couple,” and appeared in commercials later in life.

Molinaro also co-founded a chain of diners called Big Al’s in a bid to capitalize on his on-screen success, the Washington Post reported. The diners eventually went out of business.

Born in Wisconsin, Molinaro was the son of Italian immigrants.



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