‘Happy Days’ actor Gavan O’Herlihy dies at 70

Gavan O’Herlihy, who famously played Richie and Joanie Cunningham’s disappearing big brother, Chuck Cunningham, in “Happy Days,” has died, according to multiple reports. He was 70.

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O’Herlihy’s brother, Cormac O’Herlihy, confirmed Friday to Variety and The Hollywood Reporter that the Irish actor died Sept. 15 in Bath, England. He declined to share a cause of death with the magazines, though he said it was not related to COVID-19.

“He was a wonderful actor with a long and distinguished career in film, television and theatre,” O’Herlihy’s agent, Michael Emptage, told People in a statement. “Gavan was admired and respected for his directness, his sincerity and his honesty – he is greatly missed by all who knew him and most particularly by his adoring wife and family.”

In 1974, during the first season of the ABC sitcom “Happy Days,” O’Herlihy became the second actor to play Chuck Cunningham, the eldest of the Cunningham siblings, after Ric Carrott played the role in the show’s pilot, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Randolph Roberts took over the role for two episodes in the second season of “Happy Days” before his character disappeared from the show without explanation, Variety reported. The character gave rise to the term “Chuck Cunningham syndrome,” used to describe characters written off TV shows as though they had never existed, according to the entertainment news magazine.

On Twitter, Ron Howard, who played O’Herlihy’s on-screen brother in “Happy Days,” remembered him as “a talented actor with a big free spirit.”

O’Herlihy was born in Dublin on July 29, 1951, and raised in Dublin and Malibu, California, according to The Hollywood Reporter. As a teenager, he was a champion tennis player, the magazine reported.

After his time on “Happy Days,” O’Herlihy went on to appear in a number of movies and television shows, including a role as a villain opposite Sean Connery in the 1983 James Bond film “Never Say Never Again.” He also appeared in the 1998 fantasy film “Willow,” directed by Howard, and in the 2009 horror film “The Descent: Part 2,” among several others. His most recent film, a tragic romance titled “Queen of the Redwood Mountains,” is currently in post-production.

O’Herlihy is survived by his wife, Juliette, and his children, Rogan, Lonan, David and Daniel, People reported.