TV & Happy Days: Donny Most Biography

The tv family on Happy Days brought laughter for families over the world. Donny Most made as laugh for years playing the loveable cutup Ralph Malph on TV's Happy Days. Learn more about this talented actor and producer here.

Donny Most is perhaps best known for playing class clown, Ralph Malph, on ABC television's "Happy Days" during the late 1970s. With an infectious laugh, flaming red hair, and a portfolio of corny jokes, Donny Most played his character for all it was worth. But whatever happened to the freckle-faced Donny Most? Believe it or not, he's still acting and has been since his departure from the much loved series. You'll have to look hard though to recognize the new Don Most.

Donny Most was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 8, 1953, to an accountant and his wife, a homemaker. A "ham" from the very beginning, Most loved to make people smile, and he did it well. At 9 years of age, Most watched "The Jolson Story" for the first time and was so impressed, he decided right there and then to become an actor. He would later admit to watching the movie more than 50 times and memorizing each and every line.

Upon entering Brooklyn's Erasmus Hall High School in New York, Most began taking professional acting lessons and classes, eager to refine his talent. He also joined a teenage drama club and began performing at resorts in and around the Catskill Mountain area of New York. Most appeared in his first television commercial at the age of 15.

Donny Most graduated from high school in 1970 and promptly enrolled in Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. While continuing his education, Most made regular trips to Los Angeles, California, where he took on minor character roles and bit parts on such popular series as "Room 222" and "Emergency." Deciding to pursue acting full-time, Most dropped out of Lehigh University before the start of his senior year, moved to California, and began auditioning for parts daily.

In 1973, ABC television producers began putting together a group of young actors for a 1950s styled show called, "Happy Days." Most jumped on the opportunity, reading for the part of an idiotic football player. Producers were thrilled with Most's acting ability and impecible comedic timing, but not with his hair color or body size. Because Ron Howard, also a redhead, had been cast first in the series, producers were leery to add another bright-red-haired boy to the cast. Gary Marshall ultimately decided that Most was far too talented to leave behind, however, and writers went back to work, reworking and rewriting scripts to include a new character: "Ralph Malph," class comedian. This would be the big break Most had been looking for. From 1974-1980, Donny Most would help capture a nation's heart and help create television history, alongside Henry Winkler, Ron Howard, and Anson Williams. "Happy Days" aired for the first time on ABC TV January 15, 1974. The show would hang on as the "most popular" television series in America for the next 3 years.

As his contract came to an end in 1980, Most decided to leave the popular show and venture out on his own. "Happy Days" phased his character (along with Ron Howard's) out by having "Ralph Malph" and "Richie Cunningham" graduate from college, join the Army, and be shipped off to Greenland, where communication was impossible. Meanwhile, "Happy Days" continued to film in California for an additional 4 years, while Most began to audition for more challenging roles. His first would come in the comedy-drama "Leo & Loree" just months after leaving "Happy Days." For the next two years, Most acted anywhere he could, often finding himself on the theatre stage.

Donny Most married Morgan Hard in 1982 and continued to find work as an actor. In 1983, he toiled away behind the scenes, doing voice-overs for the animated "Dungeons & Dragons" series. During the early 1980s, Donny Most made guest appearances on "CHiPs," "Murder She Wrote," "Baywatch," "Fantasy Island," "The Love Boat," and "Charles in Charge." He also returned to the "Happy Days" set in 1984 for a reunion episode, which would mark the end of the well-received series. In 1987, Most made a jump to the big screen, where he made an appearance in the movie, "Stewardess School."

The early 1990s found Donny Most auditioning for and earning critical roles in movies like "Sliders," "Acting On Impulse," and "Dark Skies." In 1995, Most began touring with the musical "Grease," taking on the part of a disc jockey named "Vince Fontaine."

Today, 47-year old Most and his wife live in California, where they are raising two children. He continues to work behind the camera, on the stage, and in major motion pictures. He most recently made his feature directing debut with the independent film, "The Last Best Sunday," which starred former Happy Days cast member, Marion Ross. "The Last Best Sunday" picked up a feature film award at the Telluride Indiefest, and was also shown at the San Francisco Indiefest, the Sarasota Film Festival, the Marco Island Film Festival and The Seattle International Film Festival.

Donny Most has also spent some time in front of the camera in the last few years, as well. In 1999, under the direction of former "Happy Days" castmate, Ron Howard, Most starred in the highly acclaimed "ED TV." In 2000, Don Most appeared in "The Thundering 8th." He also had a regular role on the short-lived television series, "The Crow, Stairway to Heaven."

Donny Most still gets together with former cast mates on both a professional and personal level. He can often be found on talk shows discussing life as a child actor or working closely with one of his "Happy Days" cohorts.

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