‘Happy Days’ actor Al Molinaro dies at 96, played diner owner Big Al Delvecchio

Posted at 6:54 PM, Oct 31, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-31 18:57:34-04

Actor Al Molinaro died Friday in Glendale, California, his son, Michael Molinaro, said. He was 96.

Al Molinaro, best known for his role as Big Al Delvecchio in the long-running sitcom “Happy Days,” suffered from complications of a gallstone ailment and was at Verdugo Hills Hospital when he died. Due to his age, he could not have his gallbladder removed.

“Happy Days” chronicled teenagers in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in the 1950s. The ABC series ran from 1974 to 1984, and Molinaro appeared in more than 140 episodes as Delvecchio, who bought the diner Arnold’s in the show’s fourth season.

When Delvecchio wasn’t cooking, he’d launch into stories with a wistful, “Yep, yep, yep, yep.”

The character later married Chachi Arcola’s mother and appeared on the spinoff “Joanie Loves Chachi” for 17 episodes.

Molinaro is survived by his second wife, Betty Molinaro; his son, Michael, from his first marriage; and three grandchildren.

Molinaro also appeared in Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” music video from 1994. “That was a surprise and joy to see how that succeeded,” Michael Molinaro said. The video has had more than 20 million views on YouTube.

Al Molinaro’s other acting credits include “The Odd Couple” and “Freaky Friday.”

He was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin.