Oct 31, 2015

Remembering Murray the Cop (Al Molinaro)

(A break from baseball) as a huge fan of the Odd Couple original TV series, as well as Happy Days it is with sadness we learn of the passing of one of TV's greatest all time character actors: the Great Al Moliaro............

Umberto Francesa Molinaro was born on June 24th 1919 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. In English his name translates to Francis Albert Molinaro which he became known as Al. He was one of ten children born to Italian immigrants, who were prominent in the Italian Community of Kenosha. His father owned a restaurant / tavern & helped fund hundreds of Italian immigrants in coming legally over to America.

After getting married he moved to California & worked as a collection agent as well as a realtor. A real estate investment that became a large retail shopping mall made him wealthy enough to peruse his dream as an actor.

In the sixties he had minor roles on Bewitched (1971 episode- Bewitched, Bothered & Baldoni. where he plays a guide in Rome), Green Acres (1969-1970 / three episodes), Get Smart (1969 as agent 44 / two episodes) That Girl (1971 as Marv in Chef's Night Out) Love American Style (1972-1974 three episodes) & in the short lived series Name of the Game (1969 where he played the owner of a head shop).

In 1970 he met Penny Marshall at an improv class which led him to her brother Gary Marshall who was producer of the TV show the Odd Couple. Al landed the part as the classic dim witted but loveable NYPD officer; Murray Greshler, aka- Murray the Cop.

He played Murray for all five seasons of the Odd Couple (1970-1975). He was one of Felix & Oscar's best friends, always the butt of nose jokes usually from Oscar. (Nose' Feliciano, Nosenstien, when "Greshler looks up it looks like a two car garage"

He always had the patrol car double parked outside the Cental Park Apartment building & was certainly New Yorks most dim witted bumbling officers. But with that puppy dog face, Al was a loveable character especially when he used his classic line " Oscar I'm a police man...." usually followed by something that made no sense.

Who could forget when he went undercover as a woman in Central Park to catch muggers & Oscar said "And YOUR THE BAIT".  Or when he told Oscar to trick Felix into saving his life by choking on a chicken bone.

When Oscar says he used boneless chicken he replies "wont work without a bone Oscar". In his spare time Murray plays poker,  the ukulele & likes female roller derby. He was married to his wife Mimi.

In 1976 Garry Marshall had another big hit with Happy Days & he hired Molinaro to replace Pat Morita, as Al owner of Arnold's Malt Shop (later renamed Big Al's). Al played on Happy Days for seven more seasons (1976-1982) where his classic lines were "yup yup yup" & "did I ever tell you about Rosa Colleti?"

Everyone liked Al, the Fonz & Ritchie would confide in him as well as the teens who hung at Arnolds. Al was always welcome into the Cunningham Family & was an extended member.

Quote's: Molinaro once said: "Molinaro said, "I spent twenty years here before I got anything going, and from that I got lucky. It takes a lot of luck in show business. You've just got to be lucky and in the right place at the right time."

He would also play roles in Laverne & Shirley (1976) as Father Delvecchio, a role he also played on Happy Days when he Baptized the Fonz.

He also appeared on Love Boat (1977) Fantasy Island (1979 & 1982) Freaky Friday (1976) Gridlock (1980)  Joanie Loves Chachi (1982) Punky Brewster (1985) Family Man (1990-1991 a regular role in the short lived series) Step by Step (1992) & the Weezer video Buddy Holly (1994).

Molinaro also did a series of commercials from the late eighties to the early 2000's for Mr. Big, Cortaid  & On Cor products.

Passing: He retired from the business in the nineties & passed up roles offered to him by Marshall because he didn't want to be in anything with curse words in it.

He passed away in Glendale, California at age 96 in October 2015.

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