Thomas Edward Bosley (October 1, 1927 – October 19, 2010) was an American actor, television personality and entertainer. Bosley is best known for portraying Howard Cunningham on the 1970s ABC sitcom Happy Days, and the title character on the NBC/ABC series Father Dowling Mysteries. He also was featured in a recurring role on Murder, She Wrote. He originated the title role of the Broadway musical Fiorello!, earning the 1960 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Featured Actor in a Musical.
Born in Chicago, Illinois, Bosley was the son of Dora (née Heyman) and Benjamin Bosley. Although well known for playing a Catholic priest and Protestant patriarchs, Bosley was actually Jewish.
He attended Lake View High School in Chicago, and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. While attending DePaul University in Chicago in 1947, he made his stage debut in Our Town with the Canterbury Players at the Fine Arts Theatre. Bosley performed at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock, Illinois, in 1949 and 1950 alongside Paul Newman.
Bosley played the Knave of Hearts in a Hallmark Hall of Fame telecast of Eva Le Gallienne's production of Alice in Wonderland in 1955. But his breakthrough stage role was New York mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia in the long-running Broadway musical Fiorello! (1959), for which he won a Tony Award.
In 1994, he originated the role of Maurice in the Broadway version of Disney's Beauty and the Beast. Bosley toured as Cap'n Andy in Harold Prince's 1994 revival of Show Boat.
Bosley's first motion picture role was in 1963, as the would-be suitor of Natalie Wood in Love with the Proper Stranger. Other films include The World of Henry Orient; Divorce American Style; Yours, Mine and Ours; Gus and the made-for-television The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal. Bosley shared a heartfelt story about his own experience with the Holocaust in the documentary film Paper Clips.
Among his early television appearances was in 1960 on the CBS summer replacement series, Diagnosis: Unknown, with Patrick O'Neal. In 1962, he portrayed Assistant District Attorney Ryan in the episode "The Man Who Wanted to Die" on James Whitmore's ABC legal drama The Law and Mr. Jones. Also in 1962, Bosley played Teddy opposite Tony Randall and Boris Karloff in Arsenic & Old Lace for the Hallmark Hall of Fame. About this time, he was a guest star on the NBC police sitcom, Car 54, Where Are You? He also appeared on episodes of Bonanza, Bewitched, Get Smart, The Silent Force, The Streets of San Francisco, Night Gallery, A Touch of Grace, and The Love Boat. In 1969, Bosley appeared in a comical episode of The Virginian, entitled "Crime Wave in Buffalo Springs," appearing alongside fellow guest-stars James Brolin, Yvonne De Carlo, Carrie Snodgress, Gary Vinson, with Virginian regulars David Hartman and Doug McClure.
Bosley's best-known role was the character Howard Cunningham in the sitcom Happy Days. He portrayed Sheriff Amos Tupper on Murder, She Wrote and the eponymous Father Frank Dowling on Father Dowling Mysteries. Among myriad television appearances, one notable early performance was in the "Eyes" segment of the 1969 pilot of Rod Serling's Night Gallery, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Joan Crawford. In 1977, he appeared in the miniseries Testimony of Two Men and, in 1978, he played the role of Benjamin Franklin in the television mini-series The Bastard, a role he replayed the following year in the sequel The Rebels.
His film appearances included roles in Love with the Proper Stranger, The World of Henry Orient, Divorce American Style, Bang Bang Kid, The Secret War of Harry Frigg, Yours, Mine and Ours', To Find a Man, Mixed Company, The Night That Panicked America, Gus, The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal, O'Hara's Wife, Million Dollar Mystery and Wicked Stepmother.
Bosley starred in the 2008 Hallmark Channel television movie Charlie & Me. In 2010, he appeared in The Back-up Plan and Santa Buddies, which were his final films. In 1984, he guest-hosted the "Macy's Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular" with local newscaster Pat Harper.
Bosley was known for his unique gravelly voice, leading to a number of voice acting roles. He narrated the syndicated television documentary That's Hollywood (1976–82). He hosted The General Mills Radio Adventure Theater, a 1977 radio drama series for children. He voiced many cartoon characters, including Harry Boyle in the animated series Wait Till Your Father Gets Home. Bosley was the voice of B.A.H. Humbug in the 1978 Rankin & Bass holiday special The Stingiest Man in Town. He provided the voice of the title character in the 1980s cartoon The World of David the Gnome and the shop owner Mr. Winkle in the children's Christmas special The Tangerine Bear.
Bosley died from complications of a staph infection on October 19, 2010, at a hospital in Rancho Mirage, California, near his home in Palm Springs, California. His agent, Sheryl Abrams, said Bosley had been battling lung cancer. He was survived by his wife, former actress Patricia Carr, and daughter Amy Bosley Baer. He was interred at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Hollywood Hills Cemetery.
- The World of David the Gnome (1985-1986) - David
- Jason and the Heroes of Mount Olympus (2001) - Jupiter
- The Gnomes' Great Adventure (1987) - David (Miramax Dub)
- The Stingiest Man in Town (1978) - B.A.H Humbug