Irish actor Gavan O’Herlihy has died at the age of 70.
His brother, Cormac O’Herlihy, confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter that he died on Sept. 15 in Bath, England. No cause of death was given, however, it was not from COVID-19.
O’Herlihy famously appeared on the ABC sitcom “Happy Days” as the Richie Cunningham’s older, missing brother, Chuck Cunningham, for seven episodes.
Ron Howard paid tribute to his late castmate on Twitter, writing, “RIP Gavan. I knew him as the 1st of 2 Chucks on #HappyDays & then as Airk in #Willow where I had the pleasure of directing him. A talented actor with a big free spirit.”
In a past interview, O’Herlihy explained he was happy to leave the comedy show after just seven episodes.
“I pulled out of it, I didn’t want to do it,” he said. “They had me at college, I was going to grunt and bounce a basketball once every couple of weeks for probably three or four years. And at 20 years old, that’s not the gig you want to be doing. But that was my big break; that got me established around town as a kid who got hot in a hurry.”
The character of Chuck was also played by two other actors. Randolph Roberts replaced O’Herlihy for two episodes of season two and Ric Carrott played him in the pilot episode.
Chuck seemed to not be a memorable character because, in a later “Happy Days” episode, dad Howard Cunningham (Tom Bosley) makes a reference to his “two kids,” Richie (Howard) and Joanie (Erin Moran). A popular TV trope was named after Chuck, aptly named “Chuck Cunningham Syndrome,” describing characters who vanish from shows without a trace or explanation.
After leaving “Happy Days,” Gavin appeared in many other film and TV roles including “Willow” in 1988 and the 1989 miniseries “Lonesome Dove.” “Willow” was directed by Howard, 67.
He also played the villain Jack Petachi in the James Bond film “Never Say Never Again” in 1983 and gang leader in 1985’s “Death Wish 3.”
Born in Dublin in July 1951, O’Herlihy was raised in Malibu and Dublin. He is survived by his wife, Juliette and his children, Rogan, Lonan, David and Daniel.
In a 2013 profile with The Independent, he reflected on his youth. “To give a child another perspective from L.A. is a great thing. There the sun is powerful, the sea is powerful, the money is powerful. But Dublin in those days held its own power. It was dirty and poor and smelly, and for a young man from California, it had its own magical pull,” he said at the time.