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However, as the series progressed, Fonzie proved to be a favorite with viewers and soon more story lines were written to reflect his growing popularity, and Winkler was eventually credited with top billing in the opening credits alongside Howard as a result.
Fonzie befriended Richie and the Cunningham family, and when Richie left the series for military service, Fonzie became the central figure of the show, with Winkler receiving sole top billing in the opening credits.
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The series began as an unsold pilot starring Howard, Ross and Anson Williams, which aired in 1972 as a segment entitled "Love and the Television Set" (later retitled "Love and the Happy Days" for syndication) on ABC's anthology show Love, American Style.Initially a moderate hit, the series' ratings began to fall during its second season, causing Marshall to retool it emphasizing broad comedy and spotlighting the previously minor character of Fonzie, a "cool" biker and high school dropout.Following these changes, Happy Days became the number-one program in television in 1976–1977, Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s, and Henry Winkler became a major star.The show is the basis for the Happy Days musical touring the United States since 2008.The leather jacket worn by Winkler during the series was acquired by the Smithsonian Institution for the permanent collection at the National Museum of American History.