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"Happy Days:" Why Richie and the Fonz aren't suing

Clockwise from left, "Happy Days" co-stars Ron Howard, Anson Williams, Henry Winkler Al Molinari and Tom Bosley are shown in an undated photo. TV Dad Tom Bosley Dies at 83
AP Photo
Clockwise from left, "Happy Days" co-stars Ron Howard, Anson Williams, Henry Winkler as The Fonz, Al Molinari and Tom Bosley.
AP Photo

LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) The two biggest stars of the TV series "Happy Days,'' Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, are not part of the suit cast members brought against CBS Corp. on Tuesday. Why not?

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The plaintiffs named in the lawsuit filed in Los Angeles Superior Court include Anson Williams, Marion Ross, Don Most, Erin Moran and Patricia Bosley, wife of the late Tom Bosley. They allege they're not getting a cut of the money made in sales of DVDs, lunch boxes, board games and other merchandises related to the television show, which ran from 1974 to 1984.

Howard played the central character, Richie Cunningham, and Winkler was the iconic Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli.

Neither actor has spoken about the suit but Jon Pfeiffer, a Santa Monica attorney representing the five plaintiffs, told the Los Angeles Times that Winkler's character had so many commercial opportunities that the actor has probably been compensated for them over the years.

He also theorized that the suit was "not on the radar" of Howard, who has since become an award-winning movie director.

The suit alleged that CBS cheated the plaintiffs of out of more than $10 million in revenue from the sale of products featuring their images, including gambling machines, T-shirts, board games, greeting cards and drinking glasses.

The actors claimed their contracts with the show's producer, Paramount Television, which has been folded into CBS, guaranteed 5 percent of 100 percent of net proceeds from merchandises that use their name, voice or likeness. However, they said CBS has not shown them revenue reports and even told Moran that no money was owed to her.

"Despite this ongoing obligation, defendants adopted a 'don't ask, don't pay' policy," the suit said. "If you don't ask, then we don't pay."

CBS said it intends to honor its obligation.

"We agree that funds are owed to the actors and have been working with them for quite some time to resolve the issue," the company said in a statement Tuesday.