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Actor Tom Bosley of ‘Happy Days,’ ‘Fiorello’ Dies

Actor Tom Bosley of ‘Happy Days,’ ‘Fiorello’ Dies

(JTA) — Actor Tom Bosley, best known as the "Happy Days" dad Howard Cunningham, has died.

Bosley died Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs from heart failure due to lung cancer. He was 83.

Bosley, who was Jewish, was a Tony Award winner, but he gained his greatest fame as the patriarchal father of the Cunningham clan on "Happy Days," the 1970s ABC sitcom about life in 1950s and early 1960s Milwaukee. Bosley was nominated for an Emmy Award in 1978. The show, which ran from 1974 to 1984 on the ABC network, was No. 1 in the Nielsen ratings during the 1976-77 season.

Bosley also was known for his portrayal of the crime-solving priest on "Father Dowling Mysteries" and Sheriff Amos Tupper in Angela Lansbury’s "Murder She Wrote."

He played himself in the 2004 movie "Paper Clips," about the efforts of middle-school students in Whitwell, Tenn., to collect 6 million paper clips in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The effort and the paper clip he contributed was meaningful to him, Bosley told the Philadelphia Jewish Exponent.

“It was important for me as a Jew to do it," he told the newspaper. "I had lost a great uncle, whom I never met, in the Holocaust.”

Bosley reportedly found it amusing that he played numerous priests during his acting career even though he was Jewish.

He won the Tony Award in 1960 for his role in "Fiorello!" In 1994 he returned to Broadway as Belle’s father in the original cast of the Disney musical “Beauty and the Beast.” His most recent role was in the Jennifer Lopez movie "The Backup Plan."

A native of Chicago, he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

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