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Classic Hollywood: 'Happy Days' turns 42. Ayyy!

This is Susan King, a veteran movie writer at the Los Angeles Times and guardian of the Golden Age of Hollywood galaxy. Every Friday I get to share my passion for vintage movies, TV, radio, music and theater in my Classic Hollywood newsletter.

And speaking of TV, it may be hard to believe, but ABC’s “Happy Days,” starring Ron HowardHenry Winkler (as the Fonz), Tom Bosley and Marion Ross began its 11-year run on the network 42 years ago today.

When I came to Los Angeles to attend USC film school in 1976, a group of us decided to go to a "Happy Days" taping. But the series was so popular that there were no tickets available for months. We were told that, if we wanted, we could stand in line for a few hours and try to get in to the dress rehearsal. So we decided to take a chance and stand in line at Paramount with what seemed to be hundreds of fans.

We eventually did make it into the rehearsal, but I have no memory of what the episode was about. Truth be told, I don’t think I even heard what the actors were saying because of the screams of delight from the mostly female audience members whenever their dreamboats -- Winkler, Howard as Richie, Anson Williams as Potsie and Donny Most as Ralph -- appeared on stage.

All I can say about the experience is, “Ah, youth!”

Don’t Touch That Dial

Everything’s coming up Myrna Loy Wednesday on TCM  in a seven-film retrospective beginning at 3 a.m. Pacific time with the 1940 comedy “Third Finger, Left Hand” followed by one of the funniest films she made with William Powell, “I Love You Again,” also from 1940. She and Powell team up for 1941’s “Love Crazy,” and she co-stars with Don Ameche in the rarely seen 1946 comedy “So Goes My Love.”

Loy goes dramatic with terrific results in William Wyler’s multi-Oscar-winning 1946 drama “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which follows three servicemen returning from World War II. Rounding out the Loy-fest are two enjoyable comedies she made with Cary Grant: 1947’s “The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer” and 1948’s “Mr. Blanding’s Builds His Dream House.”

Around Town

The latest classic to hit the big screen thanks to Fathom and TCM is one of my all-time faves, 1969’s “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” penned by William Goldman, directed by George Roy Hill and starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford. The western, which won four Academy Awards, will screen at select theaters around the country on Sunday and Wednesday with an introduction by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz.

From the Hollywood Star Walk

Notable births this week include Lloyd Bridges (Jan. 15); Debbie Allen (Jan. 16); Katy Jurado (Jan 16); Ethel Merman (Jan. 16); Eartha Kitt (Jan. 16); Shari Lewis (Jan. 17); Donna Reed (Jan. 17); Mack Sennett (Jan. 17); Betty White (Jan. 17); Kevin Costner (Jan. 18); Cary Grant (Jan. 18); Oliver Hardy (Jan. 18); Danny Kaye (Jan. 18); Tippi Hedren (Jan. 19); Janis Joplin (Jan. 19); Dolly Parton (Jan. 19); John Raitt  (Jan. 19); George Burns (Jan. 20); and Patricia Neal (Jan. 20)

The Screwball Genius

This Saturday marks the 74th anniversary of the death of the legendary Carole Lombard, who was one of the best, if not the best, of the screwball film comedians.

She earned an Oscar nomination for 1936's "My Man Godfrey," opposite ex-husband William Powell, and starred in such comedies as 1937's "Nothing Sacred" and "True Confession." She married Clark Gable in 1939, and the two were one of Hollywood's most golden of couples.

Lombard was returning home to Los Angeles on Jan. 16, 1942, after selling some $2 million in war bonds in Indiana when the plane she was traveling in veered off course and crashed into a cliff near the top of Potosi Mountain in Nevada.

Lombard, her mother, Gable's press agent, 15 soldiers and the crew were killed. She was just 33. Lombard's final film, "To Be or Not to Be," was released posthumously. Here is the L.A. Times obituary/appreciation that appeared in the paper on Jan. 18, 1942.

For more vintage Hollywood, go to the Classic Hollywood Los Angeles Times Facebook page and follow me on Twitter at @mymackie.

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