Pop Culture

Writer who nicknamed Fonzie, wrote 'Jump the Shark' episode, dies at 78

ABC via Getty Images / Today
Bob Brunner reportedly suggested the plot for the infamous "Happy Days" episode where Fonzie jumps a shark on waterskis.
ABC / Today
Brunner reportedly was the one who nicknamed Henry Winkler's character "Fonzie."

In a September 2010 article for the Los Angeles Times, "Happy Days" writer-producer Fred Fox Jr.wrote about who came up with the shark idea.

Q&A: Garry Marshall on earning laughs in TV and why Fonzie jumped that shark

"Amazingly, I can't remember — which is frustrating, as I can usually watch a 'Happy Days' episode from any season, hear a joke and recall who wrote it," he wrote. "My friend Brian Levant, then a talented new member of the writing staff, believes that Garry Marshall, the show's co-creator and executive producer, and Bob Brunner, the showrunner at the time, made the suggestion. But what I definitely remember is that no one protested vehemently; not one of us said, 'Fonzie, jump a shark? Are you out of your mind?'"

Fox wrote that the Sept. 20, 1977, episode attracted 30 million viewers and was the No. 3-rated show on TV that week. "Happy Days" remained on the air for another six seasons.

Later, Brunner co-created and executive produced the series "Brothers and Sisters" and "Working Stiffs," co-developed "The Bad News Bears" for television and executive produced "Diff’rent Strokes," "Webster" and "Love, Sydney." For the latter, he shared an Emmy nomination in 1982 in the outstanding comedy series category.

For the big screen, Brunner co-wrote with Marshall the critically acclaimed film "The Other Sister" (1999), starring Juliette Lewis as a mentally challenged girl, and co-wrote Marshall's erotic comedy "Exit to Eden" (1994). He also had a bit part in Marshall's "Frankie and Johnny" (1991).

Brunner's survivors include children Robert Jr., Elizabeth and Jennifer and grandchildren Ashley, Mikayla, Anna, Aaron, Matthew and Robert III. A private service was held Tuesday for the family at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, where Bob’s wife Ann was laid to rest in 1987.

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