LOS ANGELES _ Tom Bosley, the patient, understanding father on television's long-running "Happy Days," has died. He was 83.
Bosley died of heart failure early Tuesday at a hospital near his Palm Springs home. Bosley's agent, Sheryl Abrams, said he was also battling lung cancer.
TV Guide ranked Bosley's Happy Days character No. 9 on its list of the "50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time" in 2004.
The show debuted in 1974 and ran for 11 seasons.
When he was first offered the costarring role in "Happy Days," a series about teenage life in the 1950s, he turned it down.
"After rereading the pilot script," he recalled in a 1986 interview, "I changed my mind because of a scene between Howard Cunningham and Richie. The father/son situation was written so movingly, I fell in love with the project."
Propelled by the nation's nostalgia for the simple pleasures of the 1950s, "Happy Days," which debuted in 1974, slowly built to hit status, becoming television's top-rated series by its third season.
It made a star of Henry Winkler, who played hip-talking, motorcycle-riding hoodlum Arthur "Fonzi" Fonzarelli. His image initially clashed with that of Richie and his "straight" friends. But over the show's 11-season run Fonzarelli would transform himself from high school dropout to successful businessman.