Episode 11

Because She’s There

Potsie’s date for Ralph’s costume party has a cousin named Phyllis. She is from out of town and so has no one to attend the party with. Potsie approaches Richie and asks would he be her date for the party. Richie asks to see a picture of Phyllis first. Richie remarks, “She seems pretty enough”, and the plan is set to go ahead.

When Richie meets Phyllis, dressed as the statue of liberty for the costume party, he is immediately struck by how tall she is. Ralph jokes, “She seems nice enough but somehow I get the feeling you don’t see eye to eye.”

Howard, who is playing cards with Ralph’s parents upstairs while the costume gathering is being held in the basement, pops into the party. Richie introduces her to Phyllis and confesses it feels strange looking up at his date all night.

HOWARD: “Richard, there never was a law that said a man had to be taller than a woman. If there was I wouldn’t be married to your mother.”

RICHIE: “But somehow it just seems more natural for the guy to be taller than the girl.”

HOWARD: “Size doesn’t mean anything. people are as big as they feel on the inside, believe me. Do I seem short to you?

RICHIE: (after thinking for a moment) Yeah Dad, you do.

After the party Richie and Ralph head in their cars to the lake with their dates so they can ‘run out of gas’. Richie has something a little more platonic in mind and takes Phyliss on a ‘historical tour’ (with commentary) of the local neighborhood. During the sightseeing, Richie’s car legitimately runs out of gas.

After a series of misadventures that ends when they are rescued by Fonzie who donates some petrol from his motorcycle, Richie and Phyliss end up on the doorstep at Phyliss’s house saying good night to each other.

They agree that after everything that happened it turned out to be a nice date afterall. They exchange a tender kiss and agree to see each other again next time Phyliss comes to town.

The actress that played Richie’s taller date was Diana Canova. This episode of HAPPY DAYS was her television acting debut. In reality, both she and Ron Howard (Richie Cunningham) were the same height at 5’9″ (178 cm). In 1980 she landed her own tv series I’M A BIG GIRL NOW starring alongside Danny Thomas and a young Martin Short.

Since 2015, Canova has been an adjunct professor of voice at Manhattanville College in New York.