Writer who nicknamed 'Fonzie' for Happy Days has died

Published On: Nov 08 2012 11:32:47 AM EST
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. -

A writer-producer for the classic sitcom Happy Days has died of a heart attack near his California home.

Bob Brunner was responsible for giving "Fonzie" his nickname for the sitcom. As legend has it Bruner was also the brainchild behind the infamous "Jump the Shark" episode of Happy Days.

IMAGES: Behind the scenes with Henry Winkler

Brunner also wrote several episodes for The Odd Couple as well as Laverne and Shirley before penning 15 episodes of Happy Days. Brunner invented the nickname "Fonzie" for Winkler's suave biker character, whose birth name was Arthur Fonzarelli. He also came up Fonzie's insulting comeback catch phase "Sit on It!" which wildly caught on in America as the show became a huge ratings hit.

In 1977 the show decided to set the season-opening three-part episode in Hollywood, where Fonzie is invited to take a screen test. In one storyline, he engages in a water-skiing challenge with a local kid and, as a tiebreaker, has to jump a shark in a netted area in the ocean.

The phrase "jump the shark" has since come to signify the precise moment when a popular TV show begins its inevitable decline.

Bob Brunner was 78-years-old.

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