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When John Lennon showed up on the set of 'Happy Days'


I like to imagine that thousands of years from now, when some post-human lifeforms have taken custody of our shattered, desolate planet, the only evidence of humanity will be a scuffed VHS copy of Happy Day and a fossilised bottle of blue Lucozade (surely a drink designed to survive a nuclear fallout). The tape would probably give them a fairly warped view of humanity, but all that warm-hearted cheese didn’t stop the hit American sitcom from garnering a huge fanbase throughout the 1970s and ’80s, or from bringing new and innovative linguistic devices into common usage, including The Fonze’s immortal “ayyyyyy”.

The show, which followed the lives of the Cunningham family along with their friends Arthur Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), Ralph Malph (Donny Most), Potsie Weber (Anson Williams), Al DelVecchio (Al Molinaro), and Chachi Arcola (Scott Baio), was a mainstay for countless families, including that of John Lennon, who bought his son, Julian, to the set where they watched filming, chatted with the cast and signed the obligatory autographs.

Henry Winkler remembered the day Lennon arrived on the Happy Days set when he was interviewed on Jimmy Kimmel Live back in 2018. But, according to Winkler, the Beatles star was not at all what he’d been expecting: “All of a sudden, John Lennon just came to visit. And he brought with him, Julian,” he began. “He was so, um, he was so shy. And I didn’t know how to get into a conversation with John Lennon. Then I just started talking about his Imagine album that he made, the solo album.”

“There was a cut on it called ‘Mother,’ which was like a primal scream,” Winkler continued. “So I started talking to him about that. He opened like a flower. It was amazing. And then, 10 years later, Julian had a hit. And on the Paramount lot, they did Solid Gold. I had my offices there, I got a knock on the door, and he asked, ‘I don’t know if you remember me?’ to which I replied, ‘yeah, I do.’”

Anson Williams, who starred as ‘Potsie’, also recalled meeting Lennon that day: “It was the first year of the show,” he explained. “It was early morning, and we were filming some scenes. Henry Winkler was there, Ron Howard, myself and Donny Most. I go to get a cup of coffee, and I see this guy with a ten-year-old kid. I think he looks familiar. It was John Lennon. Julian was a fan of the ’50s and Happy Days, and they spent the entire day on the set.”

According to Williams, The Beatles singer and guitarist was “genuine and kind, and truly shy,” concluding that the whole experience was absolutely “surreal”.

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