Monday, November 2, 2015

Al Molinaro R.I.P.

Al Molinaro, who played Murray the Cop on The Odd Couple and Al on Happy Days, died on October 30 2015 at the age of 96.

Al Molinaro was born Umberto Molinaro on June 24 1919 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was the youngest of ten siblings. One of his older brothers became a long-time Kenosha County District Attorney. Another became a Wisconsin Assembly Speaker. It was in 1940 that young Mr. Molinaro boarded a bus for Hollywood to pursue a career as an actor.

He made his film debut in 1954 in Love Me Madly (1954). In the Sixties he appeared as Agent 44 in a few episodes of Get Smart. He guest starred on the TV shows The Name of the Game and Green Acres. It was in 1970 that he was cast in the role of Murray the Cop, the none too bright policeman on The Odd Couple. He played Murray for the entirety of the show's run. It was in 1976 that he was cast in the role of Al Delvecchio, who ran Arnold's Diner on Happy Days. He played the role until the show went off the air in 1984. Al Molinaro also guest starred on the shows That Girl; Bewitched; Love, American Style; Doc; Laverne & Shirley; Rosetti and Ryan; and The Love Boat.

In the Eighties Al Molinaro had a recurring role as Al Delvecchio in the ill-fated spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi. He was a regular on the short lived series The Family Man. It was in 1994 that he reprised his role as Al Delvecchio in the Weezer video "Buddy Holly".

Al Molinaro had a knack for playing lovable, if somewhat bumbling characters. Both Murray the Cop and Al Develcchio were bumbling and none too bright, but at the same time kind hearted. Despite his knack for playing such characters, Al Molinaro was in reality a very bright man. After moving to Los Angeles he started his own collection agency and sold that business only to go into real estate speculation. Even as he was looking for jobs as a fledgeling actor, then, he was financially independent. While Murray and "Big Al" might not have been particularly bright, Al Molinaro was very intelligent. The fact that he played the two characters so well only shows how talented he was as well.

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