Happy Days (1974–1984)
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Hollywood: Part 3 

Richie must choose either a 5-year Hollywood contract or college in Milwaukee while the Fonz accepts the California Kid's challenge to perform a dangerous water ski jump...over a shark!


Jerry Paris


Garry Marshall (created by) (as Garry K. Marshall), Fred Fox Jr.




Episode cast overview:
Ron Howard ... Richie Cunningham
Henry Winkler ... Arthur 'Fonzie' Fonzarelli
Marion Ross ... Marion Cunningham
Anson Williams ... Potsie Weber
Don Most ... Ralph Malph (as Donny Most)
Erin Moran ... Joanie Cunningham
Tom Bosley ... Howard Cunningham
Al Molinaro ... Al Delvecchio
Scott Baio ... Chachi Arcola
Talia Balsam ... Nancy Croft
James Daughton ... California Kid / Harold Croft
Laurette Spang ... Wendy
James Van Patten ... Sandy (as Jimmy Van Patten)
Dave Agress Dave Agress ... Georgie (as David Agress)


Richie must choose either a 5-year Hollywood contract or college in Milwaukee while the Fonz accepts the California Kid's challenge to perform a dangerous water ski jump...over a shark!

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Family | Music


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Release Date:

20 September 1977 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The origin of the phrase "jump the shark" was created by Ms. Jan Hein in response to this episode. See more »


Referenced in Game Night (2018) See more »

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User Reviews

The eventual birth of "Jumping The Shark"
1 October 2013 | by RougeRogueSee all my reviews

This somewhat mediocre episode has become much more famous for one plot element, "Jumping The Shark" which, 20 years later in 1997 (due to Jon Hein's website describing each moment about 200 television shows "jumped the shark"), became an idiom synonymous with the moment a TV show's quality begins its decline. Despite this episode having some 30 million viewers, Happy Days began its decline with this conclusion of the 3-part season opener.

In the episode, Fonzie is challenged by his water skiing rival, Harold Croft, aka, the "California Kid" (played by James Daughton), to break their contest tie by jumping a net-walled area of water that contains a shark -- Croft loses his nerve and backs off attempting the jump, but Fonzie successfully completes the jump.

Whether or not this idiomatic "jumping the shark" assessment is a fair one is up to Happy Days' fans -- as episode writer, Fred Fox Jr., points out in his 2010 Los Angeles Times interview, "Was the (shark jump) episode of Happy Days deserving of its fate? No, it wasn't. All successful shows eventually start to decline, but this was not Happy Days' time." Fox also points to not only the success of that episode ("a huge hit" with over 30 million viewers), but also to the continued popularity of the series. However, critics point to this as the moment the show stopped being regularly relatable to the audience, as the increasingly super-human Fonzie character became more and more central to the plot of the show.

Being one of those 30 million who watched the show during its original airing, I'm sorry to say I come down on the side of the critics -- the episode's storyline seemed so over-the-top that it began to erode good feeling surrounding the show. While I continued to watch the show to its conclusion in my teenage years, the show (with only a few episodic exceptions) never held the same nostalgia that marked the first four seasons.

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