Tom Bosley, most-famously known as Howard Cunningham on Happy Days, died Tuesday morning while battling a staph infection while also struggling with a brief battle with lung cancer.
Bosley took up acting after serving in the Navy during World War II and in 1974 was cast as the wise patriarch of Happy Days. He also played a prominent role in Murder, She Wrote as Sheriff Amos Tupper and from 1987 to 1991, he played the title character in Father Downing Mysteries.
After learning of Bosley’s death, Ron Howard, who played Bosley’s on-screen screen Richie Cunningham in Happy Days told PEOPLE, “Tom’s insight, talent, strength of character and comic timing made him a vital central finger in the Happy Days experience. A great father and husband, and a wonderful artist, Tom led by example, and made us all laugh while he was doing it. My last conversations with Tom reflected the love of life and peace of mind that he always maintained throughout his full and rewarding life. I miss him already.”
Henry Winkler told TMZ, “I saw him before I ever got to Hollywood on Broadway and he was great. And then I got to act with him for 10 years and he was great. Tom Bosley was our mentor, he was a true artist … a great husband, and a fabulous father and grandfather. He will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.”