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A Couple of Great Garry Marshall Stories

July 20, 2016

Marshall died this week at age 81. As one of the most prolific and successful TV producers and creators of all time, his presence looms large in television history.
Joanie Loves Chachi

Garry Loves Chachi

In 1982, Marshall’s show Happy Days spun off Erin Moran and Scott Baio’s newlywed characters into a new sitcom, Joanie Loves Chachi. Ever since, a “fact” has circulated that although the show wasn’t terribly popular in the U.S., it was a huge hit in South Korea—and among the most popular American TV shows ever broadcast in the country. The reason: “Chachi” is the Korean word for a certain part of the male anatomy. In other words, the show scored huge ratings because Korean viewers thought it was going to be a very salacious program. In reality, “chachi” has no meaning in Korean (dirty or otherwise) and Joanie Loves Chachi never actually aired on South Korean broadcast TV. So what really happened? Garry Marshall made up the whole thing. He wasn’t lying, per say—it was a joke he told interviews while promoting the show after it had premiered.

Mork & Garry

Two of the biggest things in pop culture in the late ‘70s: ‘50s nostalgia (thanks to Happy Days and Grease) and Star Wars. In 1978, Marshall’s eight-year-old son was so into Star Wars that he suggested to his father that he combine the two, and introduce an alien into the 1950s-set sitcom. Marshall thought it was a weird idea, but he thought it might be good for a single episode. So, Happy Days writers cooked up a script where an alien named Mork shows up in Milwaukee and tries to kidnap Fonzie. Marshall’s son had his finger on the pulse of America—the episode got very high ratings, in part due to Robin Williams’ star-making turn as Mork. Favor to son complete? As far as Marshall was concerned, yes—but ABC was so pleased with the response to Mork that it rushed a spinoff called Mork & Mindy into production.

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