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Actress Marion Ross became one of America's favorite television moms in the 1970s for playing Mrs. C on the sitcom Happy Days.
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Born in Minnesota in 1928, actress Marion Ross made her film debut in 1953's Forever Female. She later became famous for playing Mrs. C on the sitcom Happy Days, which aired from 1974-84. Afterward, Ross worked on such series as Brooklyn Bridge and The Drew Carey Show. More recently, she appeared on Nurse Jackie and The Middle.
"Happy Days was such a joyous time for all of us. We were like kids at play."
Beloved television actress Marion Ross was born on October 25, 1928, in Albert Lea, Minnesota, and dreamed of becoming an actress at an early age. When Ross was just 13 years old, she changed the spelling of her name from "Marian" to "Marion" because she thought it would look better on a marquee. She started taking drama lessons as a high school student at Minneapolis' MacPhail Center for the Arts.
As a teenager, Ross and her family moved to San Diego, California, where she enrolled at San Diego State College. There, she continued to pursue her passion for performing. Ross's talent became apparent early on—she earned the title of "most outstanding actress" during her first year.
After graduating from college in 1950, Ross worked at the La Jolla Playhouse. She made her film debut in Forever Female (1953) with Ginger Rogers and William Holden. Other film work followed, including Sabrina (1954) with Audrey Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart. She later appeared in the popular comedy Operation Petticoat (1959) with Carey Grant and Tony Curtis.
In addition to film, Ross worked steadily on the small screen as well. She made guest appearances on such shows as The Lone Ranger and Perry Mason. In the early 1960s, Ross landed her first television series. She appeared on the short-lived The Gertrude Berg Show.
In the mid-'70s, Ross took on the role for which she is now best known: starring as Marion Cunningham on the sitcom Happy Days, set in the 1950s and '60s. Her character quickly became one of the beloved TV moms of all time. Her character, also known as Mrs. C, supported and guided her two youngest children Richie, played by Ron Howard, and Joanie, played by Erin Moran, through the perils of the teen years. She also doted on her husband Howard (Tom Bosley). Mrs. C looked after Richie's friends, too, including Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli, played by Henry Winkler.
This nostalgic sitcom proved to be a big hit with TV viewers, and ran from 1974-84. Several years after Happy Days went off the air, the show remained popular in syndication. Ross received two Emmy Award nominations for her work on the series.
After Happy Days ended, Ross went on to appear in a number of different TV shows. She played a grandmother on the early 1990s sitcom Brooklyn Bridge. Later in the decade, Ross landed a recurring role as Drew Carey's mother on The Drew Carey Show. She also appeared on several episodes of That '70s Show as well.
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As women were developing roles outside the home for the first time, TV moms also began playing characters that were relatable to real-life moms. Mary Tyler Moore became America's favorite working woman—30, single and living on her own—on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. As laws changed the racial dynamics of the country, Esther Rolle portrayed the hard-working matriarch of an urban black family on Good Times. Some even chose to remarry like Bea Arthur in Maude...who was on her fourth husband.
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