Al Molinaro, who played the role of the chef at the drive-in on “Happy Days” died Friday in California, TMZ reported. He was 96. His son, Michael, said that Molinaro died due to an infected gall bladder and chose not to undergo surgery given his age.
He was admitted at Verdugo Hills Hospital in Glendale, California, TMZ reported. Molinaro, who was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1919, played the role of owner and chef Al Delvecchio in “Happy Days” and was known for his catchphrase on the show “yep-yep-yep-yep,” the Independent reported. The series ran from 1974 to 1984 and Molinaro appeared in over 140 episodes. He is survived by his second wife Betty, Michael, who was born to his first wife Jacquelin, and his three grandchildren.
Molinaro later appeared in the short-lived “Happy Days” spinoff, “Joanie Loves Chachi,” which ran from 1982-1983, the New York Times reported. He was also seen playing the role of a policeman, Murray Greshler, on “The Odd Couple,” which ran on ABC from 1970 to 1975. He had appeared in guest roles in series like “Get Smart,” “Green Acres,” “That Girl” and “Bewitched,” in the 1960s and 1970s.
After “Happy Days” ended, Molinaro and Anson Williams, who played the role of Potsie on show, opened a chain of diners in the Midwest, basing them on the one in the show. Molinaro also appeared in the 1990-1991 season of “The Family Man,” which ran on CBS, the Times reported.