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Marion Ross of Happy Days

Updated on April 5, 2013

Remembering Old Hollywood Stars : Marion Ross

Nominated for five Emmys and one Golden Globe award, Marion Ross’s professional career in show business has been nothing short of memorable and stellar. Born in Minnesota in 1928, Marion along with her family moved to California while she was attending Southwest High School and MacPhail Center for the Arts where Ross was exposed and studied drama as a mere form of interest. In San Diego, California, Marion Ross attended and graduated from Point Loma High School, her mind set on becoming an actress and at the age of thirteen, legally changed her named from Marian to Marion because she thought that Marion would look better on a marquee. With such high hopes at a tender age, Marion looked set to be an accomplished actress and upon graduating high school, enrolled into San Diego State University.

Marion Ross

Marion Ross of Happy Days
Marion Ross of Happy Days

Marion Ross spent her years in San Diego State University brushing up her acting skills and further enhancing her talent by participating in school plays and theater productions. Ross’s efforts paid off since she was named the most outstanding actress in the school and upon graduating from university in 1950, while appearing in a local theater production, she managed to impress directors who urged her to try her hand at feature films.

Throughout 1950s, after her first appearance in television series in Life With Father and film in Forever Female, Marion Ross mostly landed uncredited and supporting roles in various films and television series, never really landing a recurring role. As her resume and experience grew, Ross started landing roles with more screen time in the 1960s, landing recurring roles in Route 66, The Great Adventure, Felony Squad and Insight. Ross also tried her luck in Broadway performing in the drama Edwin Booth but instead of pursuing other Broadway features, she decided to stick to television and films.


Marion Ross’s big break and breakthrough role came in 1974 in the form of Marion Cunningham in Happy Days, playing a mother to three charming children. Happy Days became a network hit sitcom, with production lasting over ten years and Ross taping over 250 episodes. Her role as Marion Cunningham became a household name and despite her little success prior to Happy Days, her popularity shot through the roof.

Her accomplishments in Happy Days led her to landing roles in the critically acclaimed Love Boat as a recurring 10-episode character and guest roles in You Are The Jury, Night Court and MacGyver. Ross’s next big role only came in 1991, where she played a major role in Brooklyn Bridge. Even though the show ran aground after poor viewership, her performance in the show was well-received by the public and her fans.

Despite her increasing age, Marion Ross remained largely active throughout and beyond the year 2000. She guest starred as the lead role’s grandmother in the hugely popular That 70’s Show and had a recurring role in the final episodes of Touched By An Angel. Ross landed more roles in high profile shows such as The Drew Carey Show and Gilmore Girls and even had a role in Spongebob Squarepants, voicing Spongebob’s grandmother. Her most recent appearance was in a largely supporting role in the spoof film, Superhero Movie and in the television movie, Flower Girl. Best known during her ten year tenure in Happy Days, Marion Ross now lives in a country-style home she calls “Happy Days farm” in San Fernando Valley, California where she lives with her family.


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