The series began as an unsold pilot starring Howard, Ross and Anson Williams, which aired in 1972 as a segment entitled "Love and the Television Set" (later retitled "Love and the Happy Days" for syndication) on ABC's anthology show Love, American Style. Based on the pilot, director George Lucas cast Howard as the lead in his 1973 hit film American Graffiti, causing ABC to take a renewed interest in the pilot. The first two seasons of Happy Days focused on the experiences and dilemmas of "innocent teenager" Richie Cunningham, his family, and his high school friends, attempting to "honestly depict a wistful look back at adolescence". Initially a moderate hit, the series' ratings began to fall during its second season, causing Marshall to retool it emphasizing broad comedy and spotlighting the previously minor character of Fonzie, a "cool" biker and high school dropout. Following these changes, Happy Days became the number-one program in television in 1976–1977, Fonzie became one of the most merchandised characters of the 1970s, and Henry Winkler became a major star. The series also spawned a number of spin-offs, including the hit shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy.
Another popular recording of the song was Barbra Streisand's , made 33 years after its first recording. While the song is traditionally sung at a brisk pace, her recording is notable for how slowly and expressively she sings it.