As reported in the Kenosha News on Saturday, October 31, 2015 in an article authored by Joe Potente: Al Molinaro, actor from Kenosha, dead at 96 Many remember warm-heated, Italian-American man who loved hometown
One of Kenosha’s most recognizable native sons, Al Molinaro, died Friday at 96.
Molinaro’s son, Michael Molinaro, said his father died at a California hospital, ending a decline that stemmed from a gallbladder infection a few months ago.
Known for his TV roles as drive-in owner Al Delvecchio on “Happy Days” and Murray the Cop on “The Odd Couple,” Molinaro also appeared in 42 national commercials, according to a 2004 Kenosha News profile.
While his face was familiar to TV viewers nationwide throughout the 1970s and ’80s, Molinaro remained fond and proud of his hometown, according to his his son and a longtime friend on Friday.
“I know he absolutely loved Kenosha,” said Michael Molinaro, an attorney in southern California. “When he created a corporation, he named it ‘Kenosha West.’”
Born in Kenosha June 24, 1919, Albert Francis Molinaro was the youngest of 10 siblings — a set that included two notable older brothers, former Wisconsin Assembly Speaker George Molinaro and longtime Kenosha County District Attorney Joseph Molinaro.
The sons of Raffaele, an immigrant from the Italian province of Cozensa, and Teresa Molinaro, they grew up in the Italian enclave in Kenosha’s Columbus Park neighborhood, a few doors away from Frank Misureli, who came to know Al Molinaro as a child in the 1930s.
Misureli recalls Molinaro working at the Vincent McCall factory at 22nd Avenue and 56th Street, years before Molinaro would find stardom in Hollywood. In the years since, Misureli and Molinaro kept in frequent contact, with Molinaro always wanting to talk Old Kenosha.
“He loved Kenosha,” said Misureli, a longtime Kenosha News advertising director and current publisher of the Zion-Benton News. “He just loved this town.”
Move to hollywood
But Hollywood was the town where Molinaro became a star, in a move that Molinaro described in simple terms. “(A friend) said, ‘You should be an actor,’ and I said, ‘I’ll do that,’” Molinaro said in 2004. “I get on the Greyhound bus and I’m in Hollywood.”
After landing his role in “The Odd Couple” in 1970, Molinaro’s star grew brighter yet after he was introduced as the excitable owner of Arnold’s Drive-In in the fourth season of the 10-year run of “Happy Days.”
Molinaro followed his most prominent television roles with short-lived roles in the “Happy Days” spin-off “Joanie Loves Chachi” and the 1990 series “The Family Man,” and frequent appearances as the TV pitch person for On-Cor Frozen Foods.
Retirement followed in southern California, where he is survived by his wife, Betty, his son, his stepchildren and a brother, Oliver Molinaro.