'Happy Days' star Anson Williams recalls 45-year friendship with late Cindy Williams: 'Just had this spark'

"Happy Days" star Anson Williams shared some of his favorite memories with his former co-star and friend of over 45 years, Cindy Williams, following her death on Jan. 25. The 73-year-old actor starred as Warren "Potsie" Weber in the hit 1970s sitcom while Cindy originated the role of Shirley Feeney during a cameo appearance on the show, leading to the successful spinoff series "Laverne & Shirley." Anson told Fox News Digital that he was stunned when he learned that his longtime friend had died at the age of 75 following a brief illness.  "I've never felt like that," the Golden Globe nominee said. "It was so sudden." He continued, "People ask me what memory came to mind. I said, ‘Everything.’ I said, ‘Just everything.’ CINDY WILLIAMS REMEMBERED BY ‘HAPPY DAYS’ STARS RON HOWARD, HENRY WINKLER: HOLLYWOOD MOURNS AN ICON "Hundreds of moments. And I just started crying. I just started bawling. And at the same time, I couldn't process it. It's like not being able to breathe. And it took me a good 10 minutes just to settle down." Anson said that he immediately called Don Most, who played Ralph Malph on "Happy Days," and the two actors consoled each other. "And he's bawling, just crying," Anson shared. "We were so close. You have to understand, we've been friends for over 45 years and gone through so many highs together, so many experiences, much more than your average friend." He went on to say, "It also brought you way down to earth, way down, And I told Don, 'I love you, bro. We can't waste time here. We've got to keep going. We got to keep doing. Cindy would want that.'" Anson recalled the first time he ever met Cindy in 1975 after she was cast as the brewery bottle capper Shirley alongside Penny Marshall, who played her best friend and roommate Laverne De Fazio. Anson remembered that he was nervous to meet Cindy, who was already an established actress at the time. She received a BAFTA nomination for best supporting actress after playing fellow "Happy Days" alum Ron Howard's high school girlfriend Laurie Henderson in George Lucas' classic 1973 movie "American Graffiti." Cindy had also starred in George Cukor's 1972 comedy "Travels with My Aunt" and Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 mystery thriller "The Conversation." "I was incredibly nervous," Anson admitted. "Because I had seen ‘The Conversation’ with Coppola. I had seen ‘American Graffiti.’ She was a very respected actress, on so many movies of the week, episodes on TV. I was completely intimidated. And she comes on the set and we're rehearsing and she just had this spark, this light. And Cindy truly in life was a giver, not a taker." Anson explained that the actress completely put him at ease during one of their first conversations in which she offered make him a cup of coffee while she was getting one for herself. He was surprised by the offer and by how she made sure to learn how he liked to take his coffee. "Comes back with a perfect cup of coffee," he remembered. "That was the beginning of a relationship. And Cindy Williams never changed. She was such a giver. The only thing larger than her talent was her heart. And that's not a cliche." Cindy and Marshall's characters were such a hit with the "Happy Days" audience during their first appearance that ABC executives quickly greenlit a spinoff series. Penny's brother Garry Marshall was tapped to develop a show around the duo, which became "Laverne & Shirley," The series was a huge success and ran for eight seasons between 1976 and 1982. ‘HAPPY DAYS’ STAR ANSON WILLIAMS TALKS RUNNING FOR MAYOR OF OJAI, CALIFORNIA: ‘THE COMMUNITY COMES FIRST’ Anson said that his friendship with Cindy grew during the filming of crossover episodes of "Happy Days" and "Laverne & Shirley."  "But where we really spent time were two places," he added. "One was at personal appearances at autograph events. We also had a softball team on "Happy Days," and many times Penny and Cindy would join in. So we'd go all over the country playing softball." However, Anson jokingly noted that Cindy's softball skills were merely "doable." "Let's put it this way, she brought a lot of spirit to the team," he said while laughing. "And hit once in a while even."  The former "Melrose Place" director shared an anecdote about a time in which Cindy became "the coat lady" during an autograph signing event in Minnesota. He remembered that hundreds of fans attended the event to meet himself, Cindy and other members of the "Happy Days" cast including Howard, Most and Henry Winkler. As the event was taking place during the winter, Anson said that the cast were "trying to stay away from the door." "And Cindy, she stands up and people are coming in freezing," he recalled. "She goes, 'Look, wait. We're taking pictures together. Wait, let me take your coat. This picture has got to look nice.'" "And she became like the coatroom checker. She took their coats. She put them down. 'Now it's a nice picture.'" Anson added that Cindy also offered her own seat to elderly fans who came to the signing. "She would stand up while she helped all these people," he said. "That was Cindy. That. I mean, I'm not exaggerating." "Plus, so much fun, so spontaneous and always a joke. Always, always making someone feel better. After they met her, they would walk away with smiles. And, you know, Henry, Ron and I, we were just going, ‘I wish we had some of that. Leave some with us!’" "But I felt better," he said with a laugh. 'HAPPY DAYS' STAR MARION ROSS SAYS SOFTBALL KEPT THE CAST TOGETHER OVER THE YEARS Anson told Fox News Digital that the cast mainly focused on work while on the sets of "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley," but there were "hundreds and hundreds" of fun memories that they shared during their times together off set. He recounted an instance that occurred at an autograph signing in Michigan. During a two-hour break, Cindy insisted that they visit the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, where the classic 1980 romance film "Somewhere in Time" was set. "I go, ‘What’s the Grand Hotel?'" he recalled. "'[And she said,] Are you kidding me? ‘Somewhere in Time.’ Come on, let's go.'" "We're 10 minutes away, we get on the boat, you know, gets us over to the island. We get off on the island. There's no cars on that island. It's just horses." "And what comes out of horses," he noted with a laugh. "That was it. I look at Cindy. ‘Thank you. Thanks. Thanks a lot.’ She goes, 'Wait, just wait. We walk around, all of a sudden there's the Grand Hotel. And I go, ‘Oh, that was in the movie.’ She goes, 'Yeah, now let's go to that spot.' I go, ‘What spot?’ 'Let's go to that spot.' ‘All right.’ We go up and there's this huge outdoor patio thing overlooking the grass down on the water." At that moment, Anson said he remembered the famous scene in the movie during which the leads, played by Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour , share a romantic moment in a gazebo. "She goes, 'Now you remember. We're having a glass of wine. We're toasting this place,'" he recalled. "Don Most was with us. We sat there, and we had 20 minutes to order wine, drink it, toast the island, get back in the boat and get back to the event. And we made it. But that's Cindy. Constant surprises. Fun jokes. Just lit up a room and lit up your life. That was Cindy." Anson said that one of the last times he saw Cindy was when they surprised Howard at a Q & A event for his and his brother Cliff's memoir "The Boys." The Howards were panelists at Desert Town Hall in Palm Springs last March. He explained that Cindy and Howard, who co-starred together many times over the years, were "very, very close."  "Ron's first screen kiss was in ‘American Graffiti’ with Cindy Williams, and she had to teach him how to do it," Anson remembered. "And he was 18. She was 24. So, you know, he said she was like a sister." He continued, "Anyway, we all met there at the event to surprise Ron. We had a wonderful conversation in the green room." The California native recalled that he also saw Cindy recently at the Las Vegas premiere of her play "Middletown," in which she starred opposite Most. Anson said that Cindy convinced him to fill in for Most for two weeks, despite his reluctance. "You know, I hadn't acted in years and years," he said. "Why intimidate myself? And she goes, 'No, you'll be good! You're good. Stop it. Challenge yourself. You're going to have a good time. It's a good group. Do it'. So I did it." Though he said that Cindy will always be remembered for her iconic film and TV roles , he told Fox News Digital that he believes "the biggest part of her legacy is going to be her heart." "I saw her reach out to thousands of people. A moment in time in their lives. And they took her home with them. And they talked about the kindness and to their kids, to their grandparents, to their neighbors, to them. And it just echoed down the line. So I think her true legacy is going to be the heart of Cindy Williams with the thousands of people she touched. And those stories will go on and on and on of how what a wonderful moment of time in their life." Anson shared that he was "still processing" and coming to terms with the sudden loss of his longtime friend. CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT NEWSLETTER "I'm still trying to get to a middle ground of this whole situation," he admitted. "It's so unexpected. She's a trooper. Always energy, always there, always giving, never sick. You know, she's going to live forever." He continued, "Just constant energy and creativity. She wrote her own one woman show. She was doing that all over the country. She was in "Menopause The Musical" for three years as a resident. Two and a half weeks ago, she was on it. She did a personal appearance in Pittsburgh with some friends. And then, bam, it's over." "But then I settle down and the memories start coming back and she becomes more alive now," he said. "And I start appreciating the sweet times, the good times, the forever. And I will go back to those moments and get out of somewhat depression and get back to the moments with Cindy."

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