SUZI + LEATHER = happy... rock & roll

In the summer of 1977 SUZI QUATRO was approached to appear in the American TV situation comedy "Happy days". For some months the makers of the show had been looking for an actress to play the part of a rock singer called "Leather Tuscadero". Actually with a name like that it's a bit hard to believe that the part wasn't especially written for Suzi. Anyway they apprently tested a lot of actresses but none of them could carry off the singing part convincingly. Then one of the casting girls saw a picture of Suzi from the cover of the American music paper "Rolling Stone". So Suzi was called in for an audition at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. Legend has it that Joan Jett and Debbie Harry also auditioned.There is a photo in the Blondie book "Making tracks the rise of Blondie" of Suzi, Joan and Debbie sitting together which some say was taken at the auditions. Anyway the producers decided on Suzi because they considered Joan "too tough" and Debbie "too old". Joan actually seemed quite chuffed saying :"Imagine I out toughed Suzi Quatro!". Presumably Debbie wasn't so chuffed. In an interview for "TV Times" Suzi talked about the auditions: "It was a little nerve racking walking into the casting office and being handed a script to read. I imagined all the really famous stars who must have had that feeling and I swallowed and thought: this is it. It's now or never". On August 16th (on the same day as her idol Elvis Presley died) Suzi heard that she's got the part. Originally the character was supposed to appear in one two part story but it was such a success that Suzi was asked back to make five more episodes of the show. Suzi took part in these seven episodes despite widely varying reports that she appeared in anything up to eighteen episodes , it's a popular myths ! From the beginning of her career Suzi had always said that when the right part came along she would like to branch out into acting. In an interview for "Look In" about "Happy Days" she said: "I wanted to act for a long time because it's entertainment. Any kind of entertaining is acting to a certain degree, because I'm performing for all those people. So all I did for the series was learn the tricks of the saying-the-lines trade. Because I wanted so much to act I tried that much harder". For the same "Look In" interview Suzi described an incident during the filming of her first episode: "The funniest thing was the first show that I did in front of the live audience. I was waiting backstage and feeling a little nervous, because it was a new thing to me. Henry (Winkler) was telling me to relax and I was reading my script. Then I walked out and stood on the set doing my whole moody black leather bit. I walked over the table in Arnold's, thinking that I was doing it very well, when the director suddenly said :" Excuse me , Miss Quatro, what are you doing out here ?" I said:"What ?!" out loud in the front of the audience and he said:"We've got another page yet". Anyway everybody applauded and laughed so I thought the hell with it, who cares!". The fawn jump suit Suzi wore in the series was made by the designers "Nudie" who had made clothes for Elvis Presley and it cost $ 2,000. When she had to wear a dress in the episode where Leather goes to the ball with Ralph she talked about having to wear a dress the way another actress might talk about stripping naked:"I almost said no but relented because it was an essential part of the plot". During the course of the episodes Suzi sang several songs which she has never released on record. There was Chuck Berry's "Jonny B. Goode". There was one song Suzi wrote, a ballad called "Believe". In another episode there were another two songs especially written for Suzi to sing in the show, the Presleyesque "Mooblight Love" and a dance song called "Do the Fonzie". Suzi was offered her own series as a spin-off from "Happy days". It was planned that this would feature the Leather Tuscadero charactor but would be set a few years later in the Sixties. In the end however the spin! -off featuring Suzi wasn't to be. Suzi decided against it because she didn't want to be type cast forever as Leather Tuscadero. Henry Winkler who played "The Fonz" in "Happy days" used to talk to her about how he was forever type cast as a leather jacketed hoodlum type. In an interview for "Record Mirror" in April 1978 Suzi explained why she didn't think it would be a good idea to take acting lessons: "No , I wouldn't like to take lessons for the same reason that I wouldn't take singing lessons. I think that what people like about me is my naturalness and if I had lessons they might take that away". However Suzi had nothing but good to say about all the rest of the cast of "Happy days" and how helpful they were regarding her acting.

Faren Short

Suzi's episode of "Happy days":

-# 96- Fonzie: rock entrepreneur, part 1- 1977
Leather Tuscadero and the Suedes audition at Arnold's. Suzi plays "Cat size" and "All shook up"
-# 97- Fonzie: rock entrepreneur, part 2- 1977
Joanie wants to go on tour with the rock band. Suzi plays "Heartbreak hotel" and "Devilgate drive"
-# 105- Marion's misgivings - 1978
After a family friend leaves his wife for a younger woman, Marion thinks Howard might do the same thing. Suzi plays "I maybe too young"
-# 106- Richie almost dies - 1978
Richie is involved in a very serious accident with his new motorcycle. Suzi plays "Believe" (written by S.Quatro - L.Tuckey)
-# 114- Rules to date by - 1978
When Lori Beth is friendly to other guys, Richie becomes upset. Suzi plays "Johnny B goode"
-# 134- Stolen melodies - 1979
Richie and company and Leather Tuscadero audition for a musical talent show, and have their songs stolen from them by another band. Suzi plays "Moonlight love" and "Do the Fonzie"
-# 136- Marion fairy Godmother - 1979
Ralph Malph and Leather Tuscadero go to a military ball.
-# 139- Mork returns - 1979
Mork returns to Milwaukee to learn about relationships in the 1960s.A short clip of Leather kissing Ralph from #136 episode was shown in this one.

some link about Suzi:

  • Suzi Quatro Official web Page
  • Our exclusive interview with Suzi Quatro
  • Suzi Quatro Biography

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